Haven’t had time to update my own website – so here goes!

I have been really bad at keeping on top of my own website because of all the work in relation to ABBA (Association of British Botanical Artists). Therefore this information about my participation in the RHS exhibition next week is not on the right page! Sorry about that, but I am telling you a little more about it now and hope that you will be able to make it.

Following on from the exhibition ‘In Ruskin’s Footsteps’ at Lancaster University, we (ABBA) have a stand this coming week at the RHS Plant and Art Fair, which for Botanical artists is a very important event. It is on 11th & 12th July at the RHS Halls in London. ABBA have a stand with the majority of Botanical artists, in the Lindley Hall. As I said in my last blog, Follow the Banner!

We are exhibiting five of the original pictures from the juried exhibition in Lancaster, giving everyone a further opportunity to study them. One of them is mine – Sea Thrift, painted on vellum. I mentioned that I would be demonstrating at the exhibition and now it is clear which medium I will be using, also which plant I will be painting.

I had intended getting my own exhibit finished for the RHS exhibition next year, but because of the amount of work that has gone into ABBA, I have decided to put this off until 2020.  My topic is ‘Foraging plants of the Norwegian Mountains’.

It became very clear whilst going through the various phases of the Worldwide exhibition preparation, that although the UK is a distinct island it is still part of the European Continent. At one point in our history we were connected without needing to use a tunnel, boat or plane. Our plants bear witness to this in that many of the plants that are native in Northern Europe, are also native in the UK. However, some may not be so common these days.

Image being drawn on vellum

One of my series of plants is the Arctostaphylos  uva—ursi, Common bearberry in English and Melbær in Norwegian. It looks similar to a Crowberry, but is white inside (floury), giving its Norwegian name. When picking Crowberries it is not popular to mix Bearberries in by mistake as they don’t taste quite as nice, although edible. Also it is a stone-fruit and not a berry!

ABBA wants to encourage botanical art in relation to our native flora. As I intend to paint the series on vellum, I will be using this medium on the ABBA stand at the RHS. I have a nice little plant of the Bearberry with the beginnings of small flowers. The image is already transferred to a small piece of vellum which will be ideal to practice on and make decisions about which colours to use.

From my sketchbook.

You might be just able to see that in my sketchbook I have quickly done a rough tonal drawing, indicating where the light is coming from. I have also put in a little blue to indicate where the light of the sky has reflected on the leaves and started indicating the difference between the colour on the front and back of the leaves: but that is in my sketchbook. Which colours I will actually choose to use on the vellum, remembering that colours appear far more intense on vellum as it reflects the colour of the pigment better than on paper, will be the result of this trial piece.

In addition to my demonstrations we will be talking with people to find out what they want from ABBA in the future and whether they – you, want to be part of it. Our focus will be to help anyone, anywhere, interested in botanical art to learn more.

But there is a little icing on the cake: The RHS have agreed to show the Botanical Art Worldwide exhibition slideshow from 25 countries. This will happen in the talks area of the Lindley Hall, between and after the talks. But just in case you want to see it otherwise, we will be showing it on the ABBA stand.

This is the last opportunity to see the Worldwide Slideshow!

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Does anyone know what this is and is it native?

I hope you now have an idea as to why I have been focusing on native plants recently?

For those who are still not aware, we have formed a new organisation for all UK botanical artists whether they belong to an organisation or not. It is called ABBA, the Association of British Botanical Artists, although slightly a misnomer as this also includes Norther Ireland.

Why was this started? Well, the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) initiated a worldwide botanical art day for May 2018, inviting all nations to to join them in organising a botanical art exhibition in each country. Some of us felt it particularly important that the UK was represented because we have some brilliant botanical artists here. Some of them remain independent and have no allegiance to any organisation. Therefore having an association inviting everyone, was the answer.

For more information about the exhibition, please look on the ABBA website:

abba2018.wordpress.com

But, today during my latest workshop, I was looking through my sketchbook and found the following drawing. I know that I did it through a microscope at an Institute of Analytical Plant Illustrators (IAPI) meeting, about mosses and liverworts. The problem is I was stupid enough not to write what it was. Can anyone help me, and is it native to the UK?

? Bryophyte capsule
? Bryophyte capsule

I have a strong suspicion that this is a Bryophyte capsule, but of course it doesn’t tell me which one and therefore I don’t know if it native.

My next sketch is native and is Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna). I think this is a really beautiful plant, although, if walking past it the colours of the flowers are rather dull. But of course the plant is often seen with flowers and large, shiny black berries at the same time. One day I hope to paint it, but I will have to be careful with it.

Atropa Belladonna - Deadly Nightshade.
Atropa Belladonna – Deadly Nightshade.

Next week, 24 and 25 February, ABBA will have a table at the RHS botanical art exhibition in the Lindley Hall, Vincent Square, London. We are there to tell you about the exhibition in May 2018 and how you can take part. Additionally, over the two days, Sarah Morrish will be demonstrating on Vellum, Lucy Smith in pen and ink, and I will be doing a graphite and watercolour worksheet.

Please make yourself known when you visit us.

Liriope & Open Studio

What a busy life, but who would have it any other way! This is both a progress report on the Liriope picture. Two days worth again, although I didn’t get anything done yesterday as we were preparing to welcome all those wise people who have decided to come and visit our home this weekend.

We are now ready and waiting for your visit during the Open Studio event – or at any time. Welcome!

Robin and I welcome you!
Robin and I welcome you!

But what you are really wanting to see is the Liriope muscari. Come and see me working on it this weekend.

Day 3
Day 3
Day 4
Day 4

Third Gaynor’s Flora update

Earlier in the year I was contacted by the ASBA and asked if I would teach at the next Annual conference in Pittsburgh. I of course said yes. I was then contacted once again and asked if they could publish one of my botanical art pieces on the front page of their quarterly magazine, with an article about me on the inside. This edition coincided with the program for the annual conference in October where, of course, I was due to teach. How could I say no!

ASBA Botanical Artist quarterly magazine

Registration for the conference was opened 23 July. But more about this later.

In my blog of May 17th (Norway’s National day), I was conducting a workshop in Bosham and showed pictures of a pair of ducks in the pond. They became regular visitors for a while, but luckily they decided that our pond was not actually the safest bet for a couple of birds to make their home. We have cats, although the ducks were left alone, they were wary.

Ducks are apparently notorious at damaging garden ponds. But towards the end of May, beginning of June, we still had a lot of yellow Irises in the pond – Iris pseudacorus. I was busy trying out different papers to be able to give advice to coloured pencil artists, so decided to start painting one of the Irises.  We have had problems with Fabriano hot pressed papers – my paper of choice, therefore finding an alternative paper until they make a new batch in 18 months time, is a priority.

This coloured pencil drawing is done on Strathmore 500, Bristol plate. What do you think?

© 09.Iris pseudacorus

 

Second Gaynor’s Flora update

Whilst I was away, I was filling in forms, writing CVs etc for the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) conference in Pittsburgh and the exhibition in New York in November. I didn’t have access to all my paperwork to fill everything in, but thought I could rely on the information in my website. Not so! For some reason or other a couple of pages were empty, such as the one for awards, and several others were not updated. Why, I don’t know. But as my husband says it is because I’m human. That might be a surprise to some!

Have a look at my website, because some of the factual things were updated yesterday.

What has this got to do with botanical art? Find out in the botanical art course.
What has this got to do with botanical art? Find out in the botanical art course.

Whilst doing this vital function, I was reminded that I needed to mention that I have some places on the online botanical art course Online botanical art course .   I keep the number low for new people starting each month so that I don’t become overloaded with teaching, leaving no room for my own painting.

The feedback that students get back from me for each assignment is comprehensive – as those who are already doing the course can vouch for. Each assignment I receive often takes several hours to mark, so that as you embrace the tutorials and struggle with practicing for the work you send to me, you know that your efforts will be treated seriously.

The course is suitable for people starting out in botanical art and for those who want to improve. Generally speaking, the ‘wanting’ to improve in our botanical art practices applies to all of us and it sometimes helps to have someone else to guide us further along this path. Do sign up and give it a go.

Going back to the beginning of June and the Cedric Morris collection of Irises; these are the pictures of the second Iris. This time it is the Benton Apollo. In the garden in Hadleigh, Suffolk, the Irises were at various stages of flowering. The Benton Farewell that I showed you yesterday had only just started flowering and there was only the one fully opened. However, the Benton Apollo Irises were very much in full bloom.

Iris Benton Apollo
Iris Benton Apollo

In this picture you can see some of the other Iris colours in background. And I believe that this part of the garden was secondary!! Anyway, again I was smitten. But who in their right mind would choose a yellow flower to paint?

Both white flowers and yellow flowers are considered very difficult to paint, but it all depends on whether you have leaves backing the flowers, and the way you do your shadows. In actual fact the Benton Farewell had a lot of subtle mauve tints in the white and the yellow iris has also some beautiful and interesting shades, particularly in the fall petals.

On Saturday evening I made my way home in the car. It was hot. For the first part of the journey, Julia accompanied me, sitting in the front seat holding her Iris cutting with all the windows wide open. My Iris was safely supported in the boot of the car – or so I thought! Julia’s Iris didn’t even flutter in the wind and mine was safely in the boot being torn to shreds.

I was lucky enough to have some buds left on the cuttings and during the following week I did demonstrations on four days. What did I use for my subjects? The Irises of course.

Benton Apollo sketch done in situ.
Benton Apollo sketch done in situ.

 

Benton Apollo sketch from cutting
Benton Apollo sketch from cutting

Both sketches are watercolour in a Stillman & Bern Zeta sketchbook.

A new Youtube video – painting Shallots in watercolour

I have just this minute finished downloading two videos to YouTube. The first one is fully accessible and the second is only accessible at the moment through the online botanical art course.

Obviously doing these videos is the best way of actually seeing how a technique is done and, they are easy to film. What is not easy is all the work that needs to go into refining the video so that people both learn something from it and don’t get bored.

Botanical art is painstaking and can take quite a long time. Each stroke has to be thought about before it is applied. It therefore takes time. But with a video, people aren’t interested in seeing you spend time thinking! They want to see you apply that stroke and if there is anything special about it, they want to see what you need to do before you apply the stroke – how you fill your brush as an example. Unfortunately that bit is in the second video!

Another thing that is a source of interest, is seeing the painting develop, layer for layer – but in a reasonable time span.

The two videos are based on the same picture. The first one is a demonstration of the first washes on the three shallots, showing how the under-layer can also start creating form. It then goes on to show the painting of two of the shallots using time lapse photography. A short sequence in the middle is done in real time. Here is the link: How to paint Shallots in watercolour – part 1

The second video demonstrates the painting of the third shallot in detail. I have shown short sections in real time, to guide through the techniques I use. The rest is the real-time video speeded up a little. But at the moment this one is only available to those signed up for the online course.

Before I forget to mention it~the botanical art workshop in April is Friday & Saturday 8-9 April and is called ‘Botanical drawing and shading in graphite’. You will find the details and booking form under the section on Workshops. I look forward to hearing from you.

Shallots

New botanical art YouTube video – Pen & ink technique

I am developing an online botanical art course using written guidelines, links to good support subjects, diagrams, photos and videos showing techniques. I will also discuss the materials you might wish to use. But have a look on this website under Tuition and you can read a little more about it.

In the process of writing the course I have been filming work as I do it and making videos from the material. The course will include several detailed videos with accompanying written information to make sure that the techniques are understood.

The videos posted already have been done ‘quick time’ so that you can see the effect of the process as the subject is developed. But in the course the videos are broken down into smaller bites so that each technique can be clearly seen. Although the ‘quick time’ videos are available on YouTube,  you will need to sign up for the course to see the full material.

Christmas will soon be upon us and no doubt there will be less time to do painting, drawing or writing for a couple of weeks. But I think you may hear from me at least one ore time before Christmas.

Before you go, do have a look at the latest YouTube video on the pen and ink technique that I use. How to draw a Himalayan seedpod with pen / ink

DCIM106GOPROGOPR1245.

Another successful botanical art pen & ink workshop in Bosham

The last workshop was a week ago – pen and ink. I’m afraid I got carried away and forgot to get a few of the photo shots before people left. I now have all of them and can display them on the blog.

When you look at them, you must admit that they are good. All of the students were using this technique for the first time, therefore, not one of them was comfortable with it. It will be interesting to see if they enjoy the technique as much as I do, long term. I know I will be keeping my eyes open to what is produced in the future.

Do enjoy the photos.

By the way, I will be giving everyone who attends the summer workshop holiday in Norway, the option to learn the technique over a couple of days during that week. I will be taking the additional equipment necessary, with me. But just one more reason why you might decide to join the group for this holiday! Do sign up.

Of course the class working. They concentrated  hard on this workshop, but it was worth it.

image

A new botanical art video: How to draw a Poppy seedcase in graphite

In actual fact, I ought to make a correction to the above title straight away; its How I draw a poppy seedcase in graphite.

Since we came back from Italy, I have been chasing my tail as usual. But there is a result, so the time wasn’t wasted.

I’m in the process of writing a new, online botanical art course starting off with graphite, moving to pen & ink and then either watercolour or coloured pencil (one or the other – the choice being the student’s). I have put a lot of work into the sections I have done so far and knowing that different people learn in different ways, I have thought a lot about this quite a bit.

My husband has been a beautiful model in some sections so that I have been able to explain in words and show in photographs, different techniques. That is the reading and seeing bit. But then we have audio input too, and that is where videos come in.

Some of the videos I have done so far are very short and will not be available unless through the course, but today I have actually finished one that shows how I do a botanical graphite drawing from line drawing to finished piece.

This is the finished artwork – only small and as yet I haven’t really found a title for it other than Poppy seedcase. But if you have some imaginative titles, please give me a prod. At the moment I am a little brain dead!

 

Poppy seedcase in graphite
Here is the link to the YouTube video. Comments are welcome: How to draw a Poppy seedcase in graphite. By the way, does anyone know the name of the species? It is rather unusual in that it doesn’t have the typical pepper-pot top. Apparently, the seeds remain within the capsule and it is a species that is collected as a source for poppy seed in cooking. I was told its name, but I didn’t make a note of it.