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
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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: http://www.gaynorsflora.com . 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.

The day after the night before (RHS botanical art exhibition)

Last night I slept like a log. I stayed in bed this morning and even had breakfast there. Lazy! My face is a little less swollen, but more purple!

Today has obviously been used to clear up a bit. I tried to stay out of the shed but had to prepare a couple of paintings to be exhibited at the Oxmarket Centre of Arts in Chichester for the next couple of weeks. This is a sort of preview to the Chichester Art trail at the beginning of May in which I am taking part. If you are able do visit the Oxmarket, do. But even better if you are able to come to my Open studios the first two weekends in May.

But, there is no peace for the wicked and I will be having a workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. I went to the garden centre to pick up some plants in preparation for this. What an incredible assortment at the moment. I am sure everyone will find something that they will be thrilled to paint.

Anyway, I am going to show you one or two of the RHS exhibits over the next few blogs – except for when I send pictures of the workshop. I won’t be able to show you something of every exhibit as not everyone gave permission for me to show their picture on the blog.

I expect that you are wondering whose exhibit I am going to show now. It is Bee orchids by Louise Lane. Louise got a Gold for her exhibit. In addition to her final pictures she also included her initial sketches showing exactly where they were done.

!

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16 days until the RHS botanical art exhibition set up.

I have spent the day Photoshopping the Crab apple pictures and there is another glimpse at the end of this blog.

But this evening I was at a meeting with my Bosham artist colleagues. The Chichester open Studios art trail is during the first two weekends in May, this will include the bank holiday Monday.

In the beautiful village of Bosham lives a whole enclave of artists using different media. We are going to start the art trail a little early on Friday 2 May with a preview at each of the artist’s studios. This will be between. 17:00 to 20:00.

Hopefully, people living in the vicinity will get the opportunity to see what is on display in a relaxing environment. More about this soon.

Tomorrow and for a further two days, I will be teaching the workshop ‘From sketch to drawing – learn to draw botanical images’.

So many have problems with their initial drawings and plans for their botanical paintings. Unfortunately, it is often the case that one finds out by having experienced it, that the final painting will only be as good as the line drawing. Those on the workshop have already understood this and hope to improve their drawing skills.

But, this is another part of Malus Evereste.

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Successful first Open Studios weekend

Well, we had a lovely weekend weather-wise. Warm and sunny, inviting people to go out and enjoy it. It felt as though the warmer weather was at last arriving. I believe it is due to change tonight!

This first weekend, we had open studios on Saturday, Sunday and Monday as it was a bank holiday. This coming weekend it will be only the Saturday and Sunday. We had more visitors than ever during Sunday although the numbers were a little disappointing on the Saturday and Monday. However, the huge interest of those who came certainly outweighed the lack of numbers.

The Chichester Open Studios – of which I am a part – sadly had to compete with Open Studios in Emsworth and a fairly local food fair. However, we have no such competition during the coming weekend.

My husband manned the conservatory where my pictures are hung and I continued working in my shed at the bottom of the garden. I say working, but in fact I did spend a lot of time talking to people, describing and showing them what I am doing. I think that the main surprise for them was the huge amount of preparation needed before even commencing a picture.

I had my crab apple paintings (work in progress) laid out. Four of them have much of the apple composition on them, but little more. A fifth one I am considering re-doing in a different way and the sixth one is not started. I was able to show people my sketch book and additional sketches preparing for the paintings. This included a couple of pages of apples on the branch, dissections of all but one apple, the flowers as seem on the tree (for each apple variety and done during a ten-day window a year ago), and the preparation I am presently doing – dissections of each flower. As you can imagine, there was surprise at use of the microscope. In fact one person came down to the shed to see me working and felt I wasn’t doing so by using the microscope! They more than appreciated its use by the time they eventually left!

It was a very useful weekend for me, in that in talking people through what I am doing, I was also able to think through a little more clearly about what I might include or exclude in the final pictures.

Thank you to all those who have shown interest in the project so far – and of course my work in general. Please do take the opportunity to come and see me this coming weekend. The address is on my website.

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