Institute of Analytical Plants Illustration (IAPI)

I have mentioned this organisation before. It is a very good group to get involved in, particularly for botanical artists and botanists. But have a look at the website and see for yourself

Yesterday, Robin and I drove up to Northampton for one of the regular meetings. They meet once every two months in different parts of the country and generally decide on a topic, get specialists in to talk to us, or as yesterday, use the very experienced members.

Last year we went to one of the meetings where Grasses was the topic. Yesterday, winter twigs was the subject. I have already described my feelings prior to and after the ‘grasses meeting’ and this time, prior to the day, I also thought winter twigs might be boring. If you have followed my blog you might remember that I was thrilled about what I learnt about grasses and yesterday was exactly the same. How could I even imagine that the subject could be boring!

I have found that when I am doing botanical painting, the result is usually better if I have studied the subject properly and not just painted it. For each of my RHS exhibits I did an awful lot of research and actually got quite hooked on finding out more about the subjects. I am also convinced that the research helped me get medals.

I am meant to be writing up notes on the meeting to get into the minutes, but I am doing this instead!

When we arrived at the meeting place, we were confronted with a table of twigs with numbers on and a sheet of paper with numbers on. The intention was to name the plants from which the twigs came and possibly include the scientific names as well. That was throwing me in at the deep end, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. We were there to learn. But I have to say that I didn’t identify many. Everyone was discussing and helping everyone else with this or that twig they thought they recognised, but couldn’t quite place. I was really amazed at some people with their wealth of knowledge whilst others were similar to me – although not quite as bad.

Roger Reynolds had put together the collection and created the list. Peter Mitchell talked to us about what we should be looking for to identify a twig.  He described the different types of tree shapes and growth habits; how the branches grew; the bark on the tree and the twigs; colour; texture; marks on the bark (also describing what they were there for); length of internodes; appearance of the terminal bud; how the buds repeated themselves round a branch; bud size and shape and a multitude of other things. So much made sense – but should I be surprised?

I think that one of the things I found most useful were the questions you need to ask yourself when faced with a unidentified twig.

Of course all the twigs in the selection were discussed in detail and we discovered what distinguished one from the other and why.

In the afternoon we had an opportunity to draw from the twig selection. I bought a couple of simple new microscopes which I intend to encourage my students to use. We used these to start some drawings and I tried to take one or two pictures of the detail from the hazel twigs, with male catkins and female buds. Unfortunately the pictures of the catkins through the microscope didn’t turn out too well, but I can vouch that the detail was very beautiful. I will be drawing or painting something from them at some point – although perhaps not just right at the minute.

Isn’t it funny how in botanical art and illustration, there is always something that is challenging you to do its portrait?

Hazel. The female bud seen through the microsope.
Hazel. The female bud seen through the microsope.
Hazel female bud from a different tree.
Hazel female bud from a different tree.
Hazel female bud. Notice the bud scales. The number can help determine species.
Hazel female bud. Notice the bud scales. The number can help determine species.
Hazel female buds in situ on the twig. Photo taken without the microscope.
Hazel female buds in situ on the twig. Photo taken without the microscope.
Hazel catkins
Hazel catkins
Enlarged section of a Hazel catkin.
Enlarged section of a Hazel catkin. Hugely intricate

The Pineapple and a new workshop

I was reminded today by a friend that I have been remiss in my blogging. I am sorry for that. Therefore to catch up-

Last Saturday Robin and I were at the Society of Floral Painters(SFP), AGM and lunch. It was a very good meeting and lunch finishing off with an interesting talk by Roy Lancaster. It is the first such meeting I have been to and I gained a lot from it – as well as meeting lots of other botanical and floral painters.

The SFP have their next exhibition in Chichester Oxmarket arts Centre 20 May – 7 June. Look at my website for details.

But since Saturday I have been continuing with the Pineapple picture – when time has allowed. I am adding a few more pictures at the end of this blog.

Tomorrow I am having a new two-day workshop here in Bosham. The topic is ‘Twigs and things’. It will be very interesting to see what people bring with them. I hope to be able to post some pictures after the workshop.

The next workshop is Friday 27 February – Sunday 1 March and the topic is Hellebores – floating. This means one has the opportunity to paint the flowers face up, showing their beautiful and colourful detail. There are a very few vacant places, so do contact me or look at my website (details above) for more information.

The pineapple-







Palmengarten – Tuesday week 2

It has apparently been a good day at the botanical art exhibition in the botanical gardens of Frankfurt, Palmengarten. They have had quite a few visitors there, interested in both the beautiful gardens and the exhibition.

But tomorrow Sue Henon who is manning the exhibition there will have her life made even more complicated.

Apparently there is to be a week long strike of the railways, starting in the evening. This means that she is now in search of somewhere to stay for the rest of the week as there is no other way in which she can get home tomorrow night and back again to the exhibition. But as she quite rightly says, her problem is no different to everyone else’s who travels into the city by train.

As a fellow member of the SBA I am hugely grateful to her for what she is doing for the society and for me as an individual; I too have some paintings in the exhibition.

Today I have been putting together some designs for new cards and downloading assignments ready to start marking after I have finished teaching my weekly class tomorrow (today actually!). Unfortunately the trip to Germany has left me a little behind with that work. As botanical art tutor for the London College of Art (LAC) I am really pleased to see that there seems to be an increase in interest for learning to paint botanically.

More pictures from the exhibition. Some of the artwork looks as though it isn’t hanging straight in the photos. But unfortunately it was me not hanging straight when I took the pictures!

Artwork by Guy William Eves, Gaynor Dickeson and Rachel Munn
Artwork by Guy William Eves, Gaynor Dickeson and Rachel Munn
Artwork by Rachel Munn and Eiko Takano
Artwork by Rachel Munn and Eiko Takano
Artwork by Penny Brown
Artwork by Penny Brown
Artwork by Tina Bone
Artwork by Tina Bone
Artwork by Tina Bone
Artwork by Tina Bone
The long wall in the Palm house and vitrines down the centre containing the prizes mentioned on the SBA facebook page, jewellary  by Lesley Hall and Glassware by Jacqueline Allwood.
The long wall in the Palm house and vitrines down the centre containing the prizes mentioned on the SBA facebook page, jewellary by Lesley Hall and Glassware by Jacqueline Allwood.

A total of 26 pictures now have red dots on them.

Palmengarten – Monday week 2

Very little to write about the Palmengarten botanical art exhibition today. This is Sue Henon’s one day off in the week, but she has been catching up on her admin work that has accumulated over the previous week. In the meantime the exhibition has continued, attracting a lot of interest.

I too have been busy at home also trying to catch up on accumulated work. I haven’t been back to the easel since I returned from Frankfurt and as I still get a lot of queries regarding Palmengarten, I can’t see me getting on top of things to carry on with my own work, for a few days yet.

But more pictures, I here you say.

Artwork by Susan Christopher Coulson
Artwork by Susan Christopher Coulson
Artwork by Sheila Etchingham, Kath Baker and Eiko Takano,
Artwork by Sheila Etchingham, Kath Baker and Eiko Takano,
Artwork by Marion Perkins
Artwork by Marion Perkins
Artwork by Linda Pitt & Kath Baker
Artwork by Linda Pitt & Kath Baker
Artwork by Gill Jelley, Jenny Jowett, Charlotte Linder and Maggie Fitzpatrick
Artwork by Gill Jelley, Jenny Jowett, Charlotte Linder and Maggie Fitzpatrick
The Palm house botanical art sales desk .
The Palm house botanical art sales desk .

Society of Botanical Artists (SBA) at Westminster

First the RHS exhibition, then Chichester Open Studios – which is on again this coming weekend, and the SBA exhibition at Westminster Central Hall. Next week I will be talking about the Society of Floral Painters (SFP) annual exhibition being held in Chichester.

Normally the SBA exhibition is in April and it is a little easier for a Botanical artists to plan things. But this year, the SBA were only able to book their normal annual exhibition space in Westminster from tomorrow onwards. The private preview and opening of the exhibition is to be tomorrow between 11:00 and 19:00.

The official opening and prize-giving will be by Dr Nigel Dunnett, Professor of Planting Design at the University of Sheffield at 15:30. Although this is a little late, if you would like a formal digital invitation, please contact me  this evening through this blog and I will send one immediately.

The annual exhibition in Westminster is an open exhibition and is also to encourage those who paint botanical art to take part with a view to becoming members. Membership is dependent upon having a full quota of pictures being accepted for the exhibition, three years running. But, far from being a mountain to climb, seeing the pictures at the exhibition motivates many artists and helps to concentrate their minds on this particular challenge.

The exhibition usually has a lot of very beautiful botanical art. I remember the first time I went to the exhibition, I was enthralled! I don’t know how better to express what I felt. It is worth a visit if you are in London or want to take a trip up to the capital. I am going to the opening tomorrow.

I have four pictures that will be exhibited this year. Two are in pen ink and two in coloured pencil. I will be interested to see how the pen & ink pictures will be accepted as I have not exhibited anything similar previously. Additionally I will be demonstrating coloured pencil all day on Tuesday 13th May next week. Do come and see and hopefully get a feel for how I use the medium. Maybe I can tempt you to want to try using coloured pencil in your botanical art.


The SBA Annual Open Exhibition
The SBA Annual Open Exhibition

Chichester Art Trail

The Chichester Art Trail happens every May and generally includes Bank holiday Monday in the first weekend. That is what has happened this year too and we are again open to the public.

Essentially the criteria for this art trail is that you open your studio to the public so that everyone can see you at work. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen. And, in fact I am told that very few people are actually working at their art. Therefore , it seems that people are very pleased when they arrive at our ‘venue’ (sounds a pretentious word doesn’t it?). That’s why I call the shed the shed – because it is and was a shed. Actually, it was a loose box, so a shed is an upgrade. But as ever I am off on a tangent.

We have had a steady trickle of people since Friday evening. We, and the other artists in Bosham, had a Pimms preview evening for people who live in Bosham.  It was quite tough getting everything ready in time, but it was fun once we got there. The people of Bosham did as requested and either turned up on their bikes or ‘Shank’s pony’. For those who are not English, this means ones own two legs.

The first day – Saturday- went well enough once everyone had got their weekend shopping out of the way. The weather has been absolutely supper. The sun has been shining and it is very pleasant. This means I have been able to sit working in the shed with the door open ready for visitors. Yesterday went very well. In fact the first Sunday is usually the best day of the two weekends. With any luck, in writing this the statement will prove me wrong.

In Bosham there are 15 artists in 11 locations – which tells you that those who share are not able to show their own working environment. As one can’t go any further than the sea when getting to see us (we are about 200 metres from the inlet), we are the last one on the Bosham part of the trail.  This means that many drop off the trail before getting to us as there is so much of interest on the way – that is unless they have specifically chosen our place.  However, we still get a few who want to see as many artists as they can and that gives me a real opportunity to get people interested in botanical art.

Our set-up is that we have a gallery of my pictures in the conservatory (where I normally have workshops). My husband mans this area as he loves talking to the people that come. I am working in the shed so that people can see what I do and ask as many questions as they want to. Mulling over the questions I have had, perhaps I have chosen the wrong medium that I am using in the shed. I chose to do some purple irises in watercolour as I haven’t used that medium in a whole painting for some time.

The conservatory (Gallery for the day)contains the RHS Silver Gilt medal Crab apple series, which is in coloured pencil and attracts a lot of attention, but also some of the Magnolia x soulangeana series in watercolour that I did as an RHS exhibit in 2011. Visitors are astounded when my husband tells them that the crab apple series is in coloured pencil and therefore they are asking about the coloured pencils all the time. There seems to be less of a thrill about watercolour, although a fair amount of interest as to how I achieved the iridescent purple of the Irises.

Visitors do love to see the artists working environment and ask questions about how they do things. That is why it is a shame to hear that very few make themselves available to do this.

Before I finish this blog, there are two things I must mention. The open studios art trail is open next Saturday and Sunday between 10:30 and 17:30. You can find my address on my website: . Additionally, I have places on my next workshop ‘A page of flower heads from the garden’ – May 29th – 31st. Now I am going to show one or two pictures of my working environment and on another occasion I will show you what I have been working on this weekend and the ‘gallery’ in the conservatory where

My workspace - in the 'shed'
My workspace – in the ‘shed’
The shed!
The shed!
At work.
At work.

I have the workshops.

A website that works and some amazing students!

I absolutely love what I do. I can’t believe that I am doing what I have always wanted to do.

After several days work and a terrible broadband reception after 15:00 each day during Easter, my website: now works properly. Thank goodness. I suppose that because the people who sold the ‘take-away-site’ to me, made such a mistake and cut me off, they probably did me a favour. I went through everything on the website and hopefully now everything functions as it should.

So, I am still catching up. I have had a class today, sorted out some paperwork, wrote feedback for an assignment for London Art College where I am the botanical art tutor and took some new assignments off the website in preparation for marking at the weekend. It is these assignments that I am so exhilarated about. The one I did today was really good and with a short glimpse of the new ones, I can’t believe my luck. They too are very good. People who are so interested in botanical art, are learning so much and who I am sure you will know about before too long. Obviously I can’t mention names but I wish I could. One day…..

Tomorrow I am going to put aside all paperwork and paint for the first time in a while. At least I will during the afternoon and evening while my husband is at his art class.

My face is healing. The blue-black colour that it has been from eye to under my chin is now a mauvish-grey with a little jaundiced yellow in between. The high cheekbone is still a solid lump, but I am sure that will reduce eventually. My pulled muscles and tendons prevents strenuous exercise just yet, but then I can paint. Tomorrow is the day! I will show you some of it at the end of the day – I hope.

But, I still have some pictures that I got permission to put on this blog. This time its Sharon Tingey. She was on the other side of the stand to me at the RHS. Sharon’s work was Helianthus – Sunflowers and it won a Gold. It was really beautiful work and she had actively used her knowledge of the Fibonacci sequence to paint it.

By the way, I had a student today with whom I was discussing the spiral and she referred to it as the ‘Liberace spiral’! Luckily she really understood the funny side of this and has allowed me to mention it.

Do enjoy Sharon’s work and let her know that you have done so.

Sharon Tingey - Helianthus exhibit
Sharon Tingey – Helianthus exhibit
Sharon Tingey - Helianthus exhibit part 3
Sharon Tingey – Helianthus exhibit part 3
Sharon Tingey - Helianthus exhibit part 2
Sharon Tingey – Helianthus exhibit part 2
Sharon Tingey - Helianthus exhibit part 1
Sharon Tingey – Helianthus exhibit part 1

Catching up!

How many things to catch up on. Made much worse by problems on my website.

Yesterday, I spent as much time as I could preparing the Crab apple series for getting some notelets printed. But everything always takes much longer than you think. I took time out In the evening to go to the Maundy Thursday service as it is an important preparation for this coming weekend. On my return I sorted my to-do list ready for today.

Just before the RHS exhibition, I had said that i would post each picture properly on my website. I had done most of the preparation for it with only some minor adjustments to be made. So I thought!

I went into the back of the website only to find that most of what I had done, was no longer there. I looked on other pages and all my pictures were gone. I expect one or two of you may already be aware of this, but when I went into the front of the website, there was none. It told the world that I hadn’t paid my dues!

I was very upset as anyone can imagine. I had actually paid my subscription a month ago to avoid any problems in this very busy period. Eventually I was able to do an online chat with the company who sells the services for this website package. They sorted it out, but said I had to wait a few hours for it to go live. But there was absolutely no apology – even when I suggested it was appropriate.

I didn’t have to wait a few hours, but all of this did take a rather long time. Since then I have been even further behind and I’m still trying to catch my tail. The Crab apple explored page is now on the website – but I’m not a happy bunny.

Just so there is no confusion, the website package is not WordPress. WordPress seems to work remarkably well and might be worth considering for the main website.

My next workshop is 29 – 31 May, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The topic is flowers from the garden. Have you seen flower heads floating upturned in a bowl of water? Well this is the suggestion.

Have you also noticed that all flowers, no matter what their colour – go together? Nature is so fantastic that there are no colour clashes in our gardens. Don’t you find that amazing? Hopefully those who come to the workshop can replicate this.

This time you should be able to look at my website page to get the details. You know how to get in touch with me if you are interested.

Looking ahead as the days have been getting a little warmer and brighter, I have been reminded of the summer workshop holiday 29 June to 6 July in Norway. Luckily the cost of taking a flight to the small airport not far from where the hotel is, is in fact very reasonable. I daren’t say cheap In case they put the prices up. – but ………

Norway is an absolutely beautiful country, so if you love botanical art. – or want to learn how to do it and, you want to visit Norway during their warm summer season, then join us. The places have been filling and I have but a few left.

In the meantime, another botanical artist from the RHS exhibition. Nikki Marks who was awarded a Gold medal for her work on the Arisaema Genus.


Congratulations Nikki!

Completion of a good workshop

For the last two days I have been running a workshop with the title of Spring Bulbs. I have already commented how out of place that title was. However, it was still a good group who found suitable botanical subjects to paint.

The coloured pencil artists outnumbered the watercolour ones, but I was very grateful for being able to use my brushes having concentrated so much on coloured pencils recently.

As a group we had great fun. Everyone got on well together and were encouraging to each other. We had plenty of lovely weather, warm and sunny. But, the sun moves and the warmth affects the plants!!

Aren’t we hopeless, we want the sun – to stand still and in the right place; we want the warmth – at just the right time and the right temperature; we want to paint living plants – that act dead, but look alive!! We are impossible beings.

This is the lovely group.



Now the results. These came from people who hadn’t before, through to those with good experience. I am very pleased with the results . Thank you to everyone who allowed me to show their work. By the way. Notice that one of the pictures is actually done twice. The artist did it first, then decided to do it again incorporating what she had learnt. She (and I) were well pleased.









The next workshop will be Thursday 29 – Saturday 31 May. Have a look on, on the Tuition page. I hope to see you here in Bosham then.