Back to the Easel

For a short time yesterday and a lot of today I was able to get back to my easel.

Because of all the preparation to the RHS, I haven’t done anything since the middle of March. It feels such a long time. But I returned to a picture I had already started.

I will show you a snapshot of it at the end of this blog. It is a picture in pen & ink. Initially it looks complicated, but as it’s in monochrome this simplifies. Additionally, I feel that when I am using this style of pen & ink work I can relax a little more than I normally do when painting. Although I stay true to what I have in front of me, I feel I work a little less tightly. The difference between botanical art and botanical illustration.

The flower is a Hydrangea with quite large bracts. My husband bought it for me a few months ago and it dried beautifully on the stem. I felt that it would be lovely in ink and a suitable challenge at the same time. You will be able to determine if I have been successful or not.

After the problems that I had with my website following the RHS, my daughter in Norway decided that enough was enough. She is in the process of designing me a new one, which she feels will be easier for me to maintain. It will obviously take a while before this is up and running as she is fitting it in between other projects. I just hope that she doesn’t mind me mentioning it at this early stage.

On Monday I am off to Kent to teach a workshop for two days. It is a lovely place to go. Goodnestone Gardens not far from Canterbury, is a peaceful place. There is a walled garden and we are allowed to pick whatever flowers we want – including a lot of lovely Auriculas. They always tempt me, but whether I will even have time to start one is another matter.

This year I have three different workshops at Goodnestone. If you want to join us, get in touch with Field Breaks who arrange these botanical art workshops.

My next workshop in Bosham on the south coast near Chichester, is 29 – 31 May. If you are interested in that one contact me via my website which is working at the moment, or by responding to this blog.

My Hydrangea in Black and white.


3 days until the set-up for the RHS botanical art exhibition

Before I say anything else, I am so grateful to the support I am getting from you out there. I have had some lovely messages of support. Thank you. It helps.

I don’t know whether it is the messages that I have been getting, but today seemed easier somehow. I decided not to go to church this morning, so I had all morning to organise things before my husband returned. I wrote lists – in detail and have been ticking off every small element as I go along. I can actually see that I have managed some things and I know what I have left to do.

I have finished the information sheets and have printed them out. But I still have to mount them on board ready to go.

All my labelling is designed and printed. That too is ready to be mounted on board. But it is a very fiddly job as I found out last time – better to use double-sided tape than glue.

I will be taking some limited edition prints with me. They are printed and just waiting to have mounts put on them. I also did a combi-sheet of the different blooms from each Malus variety. I tried it out with the apples and also one for the dissections – but they didn’t look so nice. Too much information on one sheet. I will take some ‘Blossom’ sheets with me, but they aren’t limited edition and won’t be mounted. I have been going on about how different the blossom is on each tree and you can really see it with this page.

Guess who’s doing the ironing? And making supper? I am lucky aren’t I?

Another thing that has helped today is that I haven’t looked at the pictures at all.

This time I am going to show you the Malus x atrosanguinea ‘Gorgeous’ apples. They are of course in coloured pencil. If you don’t know their actual size, you would think they are just ordinary apples. In actual fact, they don’t taste as sour as the other crab apples and there are usually loads on the tiny tree.

Malus x atrosanguinea 'Gorgeous' crab apples in coloured pencil
Malus x atrosanguinea ‘Gorgeous’ crab apples in coloured pencil


8 days to the RHS exhibition set-up

Time is going very quickly at the moment. The sun is shining beautifully again today and it is warm. The cats have taken shelter in the shed with me.

I am searching for any morphological information about crabapples to use in my signage. But I am finding little. Perhaps because I’m not looking in the right place with the right keywords. Any help would be gratefully received!


This is a very short blog, but it includes a little taster of the Malus Red Sentinel picture. The dissections. I noticed that the Crab apples looked rather brown on the blog yesterday, although in reality they are a beautiful red with some pink glimpses and some orangey colours.

Malus Red Sentinel dissections in Coloured pencil
Malus Red Sentinel dissections in Coloured pencil

RHS exhibition: 10 weeks to go!

The weather isn’t getting any easier yet, in fact, today whilst painting in my shed I got quite scared. That is not me! The sun had been shining, but a large cloud was beginning to darken the sky. Suddenly it started blowing so much that the shed was actually shaking. I have never experienced that before. Even the cats sat up and took notice.

I am ploughing on with the pictures for the RHS exhibition in London in April. I now have the Malus Everest picture finished – I think. I have used exactly the same type of dissections for this painting as the other one. You saw the longitudinal section of the last picture. Guess what this is. You know which crab apple this is, so try and see which part it is.

All the pictures are being done in coloured pencil. I had thought to do the dissections in graphite, in the same way as in other illustrative paintings. However, I have chosen to continue them in colour in this series of paintings.



Prep for RHS Botanical art exhibition 2014

Following on from my last exhibit in 2010 with the RHS, I am working up to another exhibit. The question is, will I get the required number of pictures done in time and will I be offered a place in the London exhibition?

Last time I painted a series of Magnolia x soulangeana pictures in watercolour. This time I am painting a series of Crab apple pictures in coloured pencil. Each of them will be a different crab apple.

I have done a certain amount of preparatory work. I have sketches of each of the apples and during the short flowering time last year I did sketches of each of this chosen plants in flower. I had my work cut out doing the sketches in time.

So far during the winter I have decided roughly what needs to be included in each picture and have started a couple of the series using the sketches I already have of the apples. I intend to keep people up to date with what I am doing.

I foresee the first significant problem arriving in April during the short blossom time as I have decided to do detailed drawings from dissections of each of the plant. Flowering lasts about two weeks!


Follow my blog to see how the process develops.