Phew! I have just managed to post the list of botanical art workshops for 2016. Do have a look at them and make your reservations for next year. The schedule and the booking form can be found under Tuition – Workshops. My UK based workshops are limited to 8 people so that I can concentrate on each person and give them advice to improve their skills.
I’m afraid that I haven’t got quite so far with the Norwegian botanical art workshop holiday. The hotel is booked for Friday 24 June to Friday 1 July 2016 and I have posted this in the relevant section under Tuition. However, all the details and booking form have yet to be completed. Do start saving. Fantastic weather has been booked yet again and the hotel is looking forward to looking after us. This year, everyone was amazed by all the flora that was out. Norway is now very careful about using sprays on roadsides etc, so now everywhere is fantastically beautiful as wild flowers are encouraged.
As well as working on botanical art painting and improvement, we will be taking trips out to collect subjects to paint, and hopefully organise an afternoon trip a little further afield too. I intend to offer a two-day focus on pen & ink in addition to the mediums you normally use (watercolour, coloured pencil or graphite). I will be providing the materials for the pen & ink, so that no-one needs to worry about sourcing that equipment prior to the week’s holiday workshop.
I’m afraid that in looking through the pictures from the Norwegian workshop holiday this year, I got rather involved in them and as well as posting a few on the page about the holiday, I have included some more here. Please do enjoy. If you like the photos, imagine what it is like to see it all in real life!
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
This exhibition was very unusual as it was held in the Mine Directer’s barn. Torvald Moseid had embroidered a long frieze depicting Orfeus & Euridike. He had done it between 1978 and 1985 – apparently working on nothing else. Each section depicted beautifully the feelings throughout this story.
You need to bear in mind that Mølen is Norway’s largest beach of rolling stones, but apart from being an area of scientific interest, it is outstandingly beautiful.
2015 is not over yet; we still have the rest of October, November and December. So much happens in the garden during this time as things switch off to rest and reconstitute themselves ready to spring open in all their glory next year.
Personally, I find that there is still so much out there that I want to paint. I used to think that it would be a time of rest for me too – not true. I still don’t have enough time to paint or draw the living three-dimensional plants onto my two-dimensional paper (or whatever it is I paint on).
I am in the process of putting together a botanical art workshop schedule for next year. I have just heard back from the hotel in Åsgårdstrand (where Edvard Munch had his studio), that they would love to have us again at the end of June 2016, so I can now get the rest of the schedule together and hopefully post it on my website during this coming week.
In the meantime, information about the two remaining Bosham botanical art workshops for 2015. There are only two vacant places for the ‘Stunning Pen & Ink’ workshop, Friday and Saturday 30-31 October. That is not this coming week, but the one after. If you are interested, do get in touch as soon as possible if you don’t want to be disappointed.
For the last 2015 botanical art workshop there is one vacant place; ‘All those stunning Autumn colours’, Friday to Sunday, 20-22 November. Again do get in touch.
Obviously the Pen & Ink workshop will just be pen & ink and I can supply you with the necessary equipment. The Autumn colour workshop can be in either watercolour or coloured pencil. The classes are kept small so that I can give appropriate help where necessary – as well as demonstrate both mediums.
One week ago today I said goodbye to those lovely people who joined me in Åsgårdstrand for a botanical art workshop holiday. Since then I have been relaxing with my family and some of the friends I made during my life in Norway. Today was our last day of relaxation and tomorrow we pack for an early start on Tuesday.
I’m not too good at relaxing fully and need to be doing something. My first day after the workshop was enforced relaxation with a book, whilst a knee problem was given a short chance to recover a little. It did a little, but I also enjoyed having an excuse to sit and read.
One of the things I wanted to do during this holiday week, was to introduce Robin to some of the Norwegian cuisine I enjoyed whilst living here. My daughter thinks I am trying to glorify the past in relation to some of the simple meals we used to eat. But I enjoyed them and I thought Robin might enjoy them too.
On Tuesday we drove up into the mountains to a village in the valley of Sigdal. I spent some happy years there when the children were small and made some very good friends. When we arrived, they pulled out all the stops and made us very welcome, serving us one of the meals on my list; Rømmegrøt. This is a porridge made of sour cream. It is normally eaten with a variety of salted meats, scrambled egg, flat bread (unleavened bread) and Rømme. Delicious. Luckily, Robin also enjoyed this.
Later on in the week, I bought some ‘fiskepudding’. This is a very uninspiring looking meal in that it looks very pale and simple. In the old days, fish scraps were blended with milk and flour into something like a fish loaf. It is served with boiled potatoes, carrots and white sauce (with of course parsley). I know that this is a meal for which many tourists will turn up their noses, but I like it. If there is any of the fiskepudding left, this can be eaten on a piece of bread with a slice of beetroot, the next day – for breakfast or lunch. I’m not trying to put you off Norwegian food – it sounds strange, but it is good.
Another meal is ‘kjøtt kaker’; This is meat cakes. Many might mistakenly assume this is like Ikea’s meat balls, but there is absolutely no similarity. Think of the size of fish cakes, meat cakes are a similar size and made of good ground beef.
Later in the week we visited a friend who I met within the first six months of my 25 year stay in Norway. She and her husband live east of the capital Oslo in a lovely house looking out over a valley cut out by the Glomma river. The river is the longest in Norway and runs almost the whole length of southern Norway from the mountains south of Trondheim nearly down to the border with Sweden at Fredrikstad. But as the river covers such a huge area, there have also been some very significant floods during snow melting – particularly if it rains as well. Of course the areas almost worst affected are towards the end of its course towards the sea; Lillestrøm near where this house is situated, and Fredrikstad.
This visit was hugely interesting, because we were taken to the Fetsund Timber booms. This is where the wood was floated down the Glomma and collected. Additionally, our hosts were hugely knowledgeable about Norwegian History and able to impart it in a very interesting way. To cap the day, we were surprisingly treated to Meat cakes. I know that they had no idea of the list I had in my head, but they helped tick off one more delicious meal that I had wanted to introduce to Robin.
Yesterday we took the ferry over the Oslo Fjord from Horton to Moss. This shortened the journey from my daughter’s home in Tønsberg, just south of Åsgårdstrand, to another friend’s home in Sarpsborg; neighbour to Fredrikstad and also on the Glomma river. She also helped to tick another box in relation to Gravet Laks.
I am very lucky to have so many good friends living in Norway, and fortunate to catch up with many of them in such beautiful weather and surroundings.
What was left? There is so much to do and see in Norway. My daughter thought we should visit the Rolling Stones at Mølen, near Larvik. This has been chosen as one of 37 areas in Norway with special historical and cultural value and therefore protected. The area in itself was completely fascinating. It was amazing to think that we were walking on rocks and stones carbon dated as far back as over 200 million years!
But for me as a botanical artist, there were even more wonderful sights to be seen. The range of wild flowers was huge. Something was clinging in to every knock and cranny; plants you wouldn’t expect to see there. The colours were beautiful.
I know some of the plants in the following pictures, but not all of them. If I haven’t given them a title, I would be very grateful if you know what they are, to let me know. I have used a Norwegian Flora book, found out the scientific name and the English version in many cases.
One thing I nearly forgot. Have you seen and wandered through a Peony field?
2015’s botanical art course in Norway came to an end on Sunday after breakfast, although our last supper was when we sadly said our goodbyes.
The week had been just right. Lovely students, good food and perfect weather. We had long bright, sunny and warm days. The nights were just a little too bright and sunny for some, but I think that most quickly got used to this. The temperature was just perfect, a mid twenty. We were also hugely lucky in that it meant we could do what we wanted, when we wanted, without having to worry about the weather.
I’m writing this on my iPad aided by my daughter’s cat. It’s funny but it seems that Norwegian cats have the same instinct as British ones – to sit on what you are trying to do! They must have the correct amount of attention.
Åsgårdstrand Hotel, which is just 15 minutes north of where I am now – Tønsberg, also on the Banks of the Oslo Fjord- did us proud this year too. We had a lovely room with a view overlooking the fjord, so that we had a first class view of the activity on the water. Sailing boats coming and going and even the big ferries taking their travellers to local and foreign destinations. I’m afraid that there is one sad point though – we didn’t do the refreshment breaks justice! Healthy and unhealthy snacks, the choice was ours. The trouble was that when we were working – we were working.
However, although everyone was there to learn and practice their botanical art, they were also there to have a holiday and relax. I think there was success In that too.
I had managed to get a variety of plants from up in the mountains and also from garden centres. However, I think that everyone was really impressed with the variety of wild flowers everywhere. They are fantastic.
This is some of the work done:
Our last meal together was a huge success thanks to Elizabeth, one of the students, and the hotel. We met in our glad rags in the separate room which Elizabeth had organised for us, and we were really well behaved for five minutes.
I had hoped to keep the blog updated in relation to the botanical art workshop holiday in Norway, but life got in the way.
Before our departure from the UK last week and our perilous journey up into the wilds of Scandinavia, our family arrived from Ghana for the start of their furlough, holiday and part house sitting exercise ( someone to water the cats and feed the plants). You can now take a breath. We had a little lovely journey over the channel and north (getting up at 03:00 to beat the queues instigated by our channel friends across the river). No-one to contact, no-one who could contact us, no undone jobs to be done – I could relax and sleep. Poor Robin drove most of the way. But I did knit a bit in periods.
We arrived in Norway two days later and got a lovely welcome. First job on the agenda was to meet a lovely lady from the Norwegian Botany Society who had collected some plants for us from the mountains in southern Norway. Then, we stocked up on plants from a local garden centre. Student tastes vary, so we were now prepared with Cloudberries, Blueberries, lignognberry, lace cap hydrangea, House leeks, Siberian Iris. But we didn’t have dog roses, wild strawberries, white campion, clover, Scabious, Vetch, these were brought in later by one of the students. The last species to be added to our plant table were some lovely Peonies, thanks to a grass-cutting-husband!
The workshop holiday started with a lovely meal at the Åsgårdstrand Hotel on the Southeast coast Of Norway, looking out across the beautiful views of the Oslo Fjord. This was Sunday evening with the course itself starting on the Monday morning. Everyone started out bright eyed and bushy tailed early on Monday morning, and as usual we started off with the most important aspects of the botanical painting, choice of subject, studying it, designing a composition and making the initial drawing, A painting is never better than its original drawing, therefore one needs to spend time on this phase.
The third day has been completed and it seems to me that the enthusiasm hasn’t wained. But a break was needed.
This afternoon a trip was planned and some of the students chose to come with us. We travelled a little way up into the mountains to a Cobalt Mine – once the largest in the world, called Blaafargeværket. The literal translation is Blue Colour Works. We had a lovely wander round the old buildings, but felt that to spend time in the actual mines, was rather a waste of a beautiful day. But we did learn a whole load about the mines’ and area history.
Apart from seeing old, restored buildings and fantastic scenery, we also learnt a bit about local history and saw two art exhibitions – all as the temperature was steadily climbing to 30 degrees. Eventually, it was almost a relief to head back to slightly cooler climbs along the coast. We felt our tasty supper this evening was very much well deserved.
It is now the Thursday following the Stansted Park Garden Show. I can’t understand it, but everytime I write Stansted, it auto corrects to ‘stagnated’. That just is not what I want to say and definitely not what the show was like!
There was a lot of preparation for the show, in addition to everything else going on. Soon I am going to start having to say ‘no’. But it is difficult when you get asked; 1) Because others want you to take part and 2), because they like your work or your teaching.
The weather forecast for the weekend was mixed. We expected thunderstorms and rain. In actual fact, it was sunny but windy for most of the time and the rain came at night or early in the morning. Anyway, the car got packed up – thanks to Robin. But he wasn’t happy with all that had to go into it.
Luckily we don’t live too far away from Stansted and a few hours later we made our way home leaving the stand covered in case of storms (but not floods).
The rest of the pictures tell a tale of three lovely days spent at the show, meeting lots of new people visiting the show and, of course reuniting with the stand holders who returned from last year.
We got home fairly late in the evening of Sunday having packed everything up again. But, although we unpacked the car, the sorting waited until Monday.
Now I am catching up with London Art College assignments and the next important event on the Calendar – Norway.
And the work during the Show? I have to be honest, I started the Indian Corn a long time ago and pick it up now and again. The corn doesn’t change you see, although I will need new leaves when I get that far.
This has been a very eventful day. As a result of the visit to Kew Gardens today, and a serious discussion there inspired by exhibits in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, we decided to found the Norwegian Society of Botanical Artists – Den Norske Foreningen for Botaniske Kunstnere.
My friend Tone Minde from Norway lives on the south coast in a town called Arendal. She is a garden designer with a special interest in botanical art. She like me, has tried to find other botanical artists or even an organisation that has some interest in this subject in Norway. The only thing that either of us found, were organisations in relation to gardens, mountains, botany and the environment, but nothing in relation to botanical art or illustration. So we decided to try and do something to plug this obvious gap.
I am aware that there are a couple of illustrators living in Norway and attached to botanical gardens in the country.
I know that botanical art has been neglected for many years in some countries. In the UK it has become very popular, as it has in North America, South Africa and Australia, and parts of mainland Europe. It was brought home to us today at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery that Norway is being left behind.
There were three different exhibitions today at the gallery, including one from the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists formed within the last ten years. It was interesting to note that their aims included:
To provide information about botanical art and to bring it to the attention of as wide a public as possible.
To bring together botanical artists, illustrators and anyone interested in botanical art.
To improve the quality of botanical art in the Netherlands.
We would like to promote botanical art in Norway in the same way as has happened in other countries so that our children can learn to look and see and portray the beauty and the detail in the Norwegian landscape.
We are looking for like-minded people to join the group with the intention of developing an interest in studying and painting Norway’s beautiful flora. Do get in touch so that we can tell you more.
Last year I made a start on bringing more botanical art to Norway. I ran a successful workshop on painting Norwegian plants, in Åsgårdstrand in south-eastern Norway. This attracted two Norwegians, one American, one German and four British people. Following the popularity of last year’s event, I will run another workshop in Norway this June. Full details are on my website http://www.gaynorsflora.com.
In case anyone thinks I have forgotten all about the important subject of Botanical Art – I haven’t!
But, for the last few days Robin and I have been in Norway preparing for the botanical art course there 28 June until 5 July. But at the moment it is deliciously cold there.
We have been checking a few things out, buying more wool for yet another Norwegian jumper and stripping some beautiful old stairs.
My daughter has a house in Tønsberg, a few kilometers down the coast from Åsgårdstrand. Her stairs have a very lovely shape to them which is identical to ones in the house where she grew up. In those days I stripped, sanded and varnished those stairs to bring forth their natural beauty. She wanted to do the same thing with her own stairs and we agreed to help her. We got as far as stripping!
Yesterday we took the day off and went for a drive to The End of the World. Verdens Ende. This is a beautiful NAtional Park area on the southern tip of an island called Tjøme. If you want to look at a map, find Tønsberg, follow a few kilometres south onto an island called Nøtterøy, And the main road leads to Tjøme and the Verdens Ende.
The pictures are from that area before the snow came. That arrived as we left Norway today.
To finish off that lovely day, cards on a soft surface!
The SBA botanical art exhibition in Palmengarten, Frankfurt, has almost left my to-do list for this year! Our SBA member Sue Henon and Palmengarten have already started having meetings about the next exhibition in 2016, but I will now have nearly a year free to decide about any involvement I might or might not have.
The pictures that came back are nearly all out of the house and there is only one last collection due. The house almost looks empty – so much so, that I can now see all the dust that quickly collected when so many people were in and out of the house collecting pictures. We will have exactly six days to clear up before our Christmas guests arrive!
As so many people were coming and going, I decided it was best to leave the Acanthus work in the house so that I could do a little of it whilst waiting for people to arrive. This is where I have got to with the picture. It is taking its time.
More importantly for me – and hopefully for a few of you out there, I now have all the details for the next Botanical Art workshop holiday in Norway. By clicking on the image below you will be linked to my website to download further information including the booking forms.