Workshop schedule and booking forms now available

I had to work hard to finish the Liriope muscari ‘Moneymaker’ in time for handing it in at the beginning of this month. Including the sketches when I first got the plant in 2015, sketchbook drawings, colour matching and composing the picture to my satisfaction, it took 211 hrs.

I remember a comment that someone made not too long ago; when they started painting they thought that as they got better they would be quicker, but it didn’t work out that way. They too were a botanical artist.

I have to say that when I took up painting plants a few years ago, having painted birds in great detail previously, I too thought that I would get quicker as I got more experienced. The trouble is that as one becomes more experienced one knows what to look for and that getting the detail right is imperative. I suppose that this is affected too by my style of painting which is not wet-in-wet. I use a fairly dry technique generally, which allows for the finer detail. Added to which I am my own worst critic!

The finished painting can now be seen in my website portfolio. Follow this link: Liriope muscari ‘Moneymaker’

At last my schedule of botanical art workshops in 2017 is complete and you will find the detail and booking form here: Workshops for 2017

The booking form for the botanical art workshop holiday at Le Manoir in the Dordogne region of France is also ready. You can find this here: Le Manoir 2017. There has been a lot of interest for this workshop holiday, so grab your place as soon as you can. There is a lot packed into the holiday and if you want to take your partner, there will be plenty for them to do too – that is if they want to do anything outside the planned trips! You will be painting at least in the mornings and can choose to do the excursions if you wish.

As a reminder, all levels of experience in botanical art will be welcome because the class sizes are small. Life is about continually developing your skills, therefore to join a workshop, experience is not necessary, just the desire to learn.

You can use coloured pencil, graphite or watercolour on all of the workshops and the holiday – except for the workshop with vellum.

Botanical art workshop booking form for 2017
Botanical art workshop booking form for 2017
Le Manoir; Exclusive botanical art workshop holiday
Le Manoir; Exclusive botanical art workshop holiday

Do get in touch if you have any queries.

Last two Bosham botanical art workshops for 2016

I have been remiss in showing some of the pictures from my last two 2016 workshops in Bosham. One was about autumn colours where all the students chose to use coloured pencil, and the other was pen & ink.

As usually happens there was a lovely group of students, all wanting to learn and enjoy the workshop. On both occasions the members in the group jelled very quickly and there was a lovely atmosphere. I don’t know what it is about botanical art, but it does seem to have a very positive effect on the people doing it.

Rather than rattle on, I will just show the pictures. As soon as I have the workshop schedule for 2017 finished, I will post this. However, so that you can put this in your diary, the first botanical art workshop in Bosham next year, will be Friday 27 – Saturday 28 Jan. The topic will be Textures: bark and moss as examples.

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Pittsburgh and ASBA 2016

What a wonderful event!

I was in Pittsburgh for the ASBA conference, three years ago when I had a picture included in the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. Robin, felt that as the ASBA was again in Pittsburgh for the opening of the new Hunt exhibition (it is every three years), that it was time we came again.

When we arrived on Tuesday afternoon it was really good to meet up with old friends from the last time we were here, and new friends made on Facebook. It was quite strange meeting up with some of the latter, as they had become ‘friends’ on the net and we never met in person. But now we had the opportunity to get to know these familiar faces.

The Facebook phenomenon is a really interesting as it has opened up connections in the botanical art world allowing us to communicate worldwide across borders. We are now learning from each other without restriction – something we never could have imagined only a few years ago.

What have we done since being in Pittsburgh?

The first morning started off with a Portfolio sharing session. Anyone who wanted to could take part in this and I too had a table. The response for me was brilliant and was quite a surprise.

Version 2

There were several workshops and during one of them a cry went up that Barack Obama was leaving the building next door to us. We had been told that he was due to give a talk in the University and we knew that many of the streets had been closed off round our hotel. But we had no idea that he was so close.

I get the impression that in America, Obama is a president much loved and respected.

Obama leaving
Obama leaving

Last night, after the opening of the new Hunt exhibition, we met an ‘old’ friend from my nurses training days in Birmingham, fifty one years ago! It was a treat we thoroughly enjoyed.

Today has been particularly busy for me, starting at 09:00 doing a coloured pencil demonstration. Apparently the ASBA hasn’t done ongoing demonstrations from the tutors before this. As far as I can judge it was received extremely well. A lot of people turned up early to watch the demonstrations and once I had finished I was able to watch John Pastoriza-Pinol from Australia take over from me, followed by another highly regarded American botanical artist Robin Jess.

Interestingly enough, I was able to use a couple of comments I heard during these two demonstrations, in my own workshop also held today. Yes, it has been an extremely busy day.

These are some of the pictures from my own workshop.

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I was amazed at how quickly people started picking up the technique. It was a thorough enjoyable class with a lot of very nice people.

I think I have commented before about how much pleasure I get from working with such lovely people. Botanical artists seem to have a lot of joy in what they do.

 

Its apples in the air!

Each workshop that I have done recently has been about apples. Shape, form and colour.

You have seen the pictures from the last SFP workshop that it was almost all apples. The small workshop that I had this last weekend also focused on apples.

One of the students was working in watercolour and as she was neither very familiar with watercolour, nor botanical art. I think she did an amazing job. The other student first came on one of my workshops a couple of years ago with the wish to learn coloured pencil. She hadn’t done any art either, so she too had a steep learning curve. But she comes to my classes and workshops on a regular basis and is now a very good artist.

It was a lovely balance to have in the workshop as the more experienced student had a very good idea how the other felt and was able to give encouragement.

The two pictures shown here are very good and I think both were very happy with the results so far. Obviously the coloured pencil picture is quite a challenge. Apart from the form of the apples (four different ones) with their respective shrivelling leaves, she had to contend with different textures too. I know that she went home with a determination to complete the picture.

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Normally, when one has flowers and leaves in a botanical art picture, one does the flowers first as they die first. But in this instance the issue was the shrivelling leaves as they were moving constantly. Therefore these were started first to capture the initial shape and the colour that attracted her to them in the first place. She intends to go back to them after getting the apples finished.

The next workshop in Bosham will be ‘Autumn colours. Wow!’ Friday 28 October to Sunday 30th. I still have some places available so do get in touch soon so that you can secure yours. Please use the contact form at the end to contact me if you would like to come as I will be at the ASBA conference in Pittsburgh. I will be able to pick up emails and confirm if there is still room for you.

Now, to continue with more about the botanical art holiday planned for next year. Here is a bit more about it on this page of my website: Gaynor’s Flora exclusive botanical art holiday at Le Manoir

nightpool-website

 

Workshop last weekend and this weekend

Last weekend started off pretty laid back in comparison to how it developed. I had a botanical art workshop on pen and ink with IAPI (Institute of Analytical Plant Illustrators)at Leicester Botanical Gardens. Apart from getting there slightly later than planned, we had a lovely day and again with a lovely group of people. The group is composed of Botanical artists and Botanists. The aim is to work together to document botanical subjects. We learn from each other to produce the documentation needed to identify plants.

IAPI at Leicester Botanical gardens
Well into the subject in pen and ink

After the workshop, we took a plane directly to Amsterdam to watch my son and daughter do the Dam to Dam 16 km run.

It was a great privilege to see them take off. They are the ones with their arms in the air. Believe it or not, Robin and I cycled to meet them at the finish line, but they arrived there 15 minutes before we did! By the time we got there, worn out, they were full of beans and raring to go. It really put us to shame.
3-dsc03425

I don’t normally talk about things we do, keeping the blog mostly to botanical art. But I was very proud of them.

The trouble is, after the run, they got transport back to Amsterdam and we had to cycle – getting lost on the way! At 20:00 in the evening, they were about to send out a search party when we eventually got back.

Age is apparently taking its toll.

Now I am in the process of preparing for the last workshop with the SFP (Society of Floral painters). Unfortunately, it is now folding due to lack of offers to take on some of the committee roles. The Society has been spoilt for years with the same people doing the work. But after all this time they too need to take a breather.

I want to use this small opportunity to thank the SFP for all that they have done over the years.

A new YouTube video – tomatoes in coloured pencil

I mentioned previously that I had been trying out various papers to use with coloured pencil, rather than my favourite, Fabriano Classico. The trouble is that I kept on having to start my tomato picture again and the ultimate goal was to film the process to use with my online botanical art course.

In the end I gave up and the video is based on my fourth attempt, but with my favourite paper! I hope that this will make some people happier about their numerous attempts with whatever media they might be using.

Having read the above, you will think that I didn’t find any suitable replacements for the Fabriano, but that isn’t quite true. The problem was that I chose what seems to be a simple subject, which in reality wasn’t all that simple to do. The tomatoes are very red, smooth and shiny. The red was the problem.

For those who work with coloured pencil, they will know that the colours are translucent and therefore the colour or colours that you are aiming for are in fact a layered mix of different colours. The tomatoes were a yellowy red – simple; but they also had areas of deeper red, areas of pinky-red, colder areas and warmer areas.

I have also been painting a Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ recently, and I encountered similar problems with that, because of the red.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that if is difficult, try and try again; it will be worth it. Particularly with coloured pencils it is worth trying out different mixes before you start and sometimes simpler is best.

I finished the series of videos for the course, starting off with tracing the line drawing, a separate short video for each of the tomatoes and then one for the sepals and truss. But unless you are signed up for the course you will only see this video which concentrates on the second tomato. It is speeded up considerably, therefore not going into huge detail about techniques. But you do see how the tomato develops and the list of colours I used for the whole picture is in the information section underneath the video.

Three tomatoes-2nd tomato

This is the Youtube video linkThe second of three tomatoes in coloured pencil.
This coming weekend is the ever popular Fruit and veg botanical art workshop. It looks as though it won’t be such glorious weather as has been for the last couple of days, so everyone will be able to concentrate on their painting, but be rewarded with strawberries and cream at the end of it!

Bad news and good news.

A few days ago we were walking round the garden and noticed that one of the Fuchsias seemed to have real problems with flowering. On closer examination the growing tips were curled up with the new flower buds curled into them. We then checked out another fuchsia in the front garden which had flowered. It was the only one we had with variegated leaves. But that too seemed to be infected. We had no idea what this was, so Robin had a look on the net.

Distorted growing tip of a Fuchsia plant
Distorted growing tip of a Fuchsia plant

Apparently it is the Fuchsia gall mite and has been written about by the RHS. It had first been seen in Brazil in the late 1970’s and has since spread to areas with warm climates, reaching Fareham on the south coast of England only a short time ago.

The only thing to do with it is remove it completely as removing the distortions doesn’t get rid of the mite and neither do pesticides – which we wouldn’t want to use unless there was no other way. When removing the plant, it either has to be burnt or got rid of safely – not on the compost heap. The mode of transportation is you and I, birds and the wind. Therefore we have to be careful that we clean tools, change clothes and wash hands after handling it.

I have just found it in the back garden too, but so far it has only affected one of the fuchsias (all hardy). Therefore we have to get rid of it as soon as possible. However, before doing so I thought I would take some pictures. The mite is 0.25 mm long, therefore too small to be seen with the naked eye. But I have one or two microscopes and have taken some stills and a short video.

First, two stills so that you know what to look for:

Fuchsia gall mite still_1 copy

 

The same gall mites taken within seconds of the first picture.
The same gall mites taken within seconds of the first picture.

I had hoped to show you a short video I took of a mite moving along a stem, but unfortunately I haven’t found a way to include it on a WordPress page. But needless to say, the mite is very bad news for those with Fuchsias at least living in the south of the UK . But perhaps this will be a warning to have a look at your Fuchsias and remove those infected as soon as you can.  This could minimise spreading.

Now the good news. The American Society of Botanical artist (ASBA) has its annual conference in Pittsburgh in October. I know I have mentioned this before. I was asked to teach and the online registration was opened on 23 July. I booked the workshops that I wanted to attend, but also checked out my own workshop.

I couldn’t believe it and I thought there was a difference between the meaning of the American and UK English words ‘waiting list’. I picked up the courage to ask and found that they meant the same thing. Already on the first day of registration, my workshop was fully booked with a waiting list! I have to keep my fingers crossed now that I can still get crab apples as subjects for the conference. At the moment, I have loads of different ones ripening here, but how they are ‘over there’ is another matter. Perhaps someone could tell me if they are likely to have any left at the time of the conference?

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Fourth Gaynor’s Flora update

I am so glad that I have these blogs to look forward to each day. They are helping to remind me about the lovely things I have done over the last few weeks. Particularly as I am still catching up with all the undone things, including doing a coloured pencil video.

I am really struggling with the video. I expect that those who are just starting out in botanical art will be relieved to hear that someone who has been doing it for a while, continues to struggle in periods. But the reason that I am struggling is because I am trying out different papers to use with coloured pencils, so that I can advise my students. The subject is tomatoes.

I think that I am now on my third attempt. Its not that I don’t get good enough results, it’s just that I feel I have to adjust my technique for each of the different papers I use. But I suppose that is something new learnt.

First Tomato picture attempt on Strathmore 500 Bristol Plate.
Incomplete first tomato picture attempt on Strathmore 500 Bristol Plate.

Going back to catching up.

A lot had been going on over the last few months with a great deal of time spent on writing the online botanical art course, exhibitions, demonstrations and teaching. I felt I needed a break, but my head was still working ‘twenty to the dozen’. My workshop in Norway was unfortunately cancelled, therefore this time we would be taking a holiday there. I still had work to do on the botanical art course and informed family that this was the case.

I have a strong and determined family! After one day spent working, I was told that enough was enough. I was unhappy at the time as of course I still had to do the work. But since then I have every reason to be grateful to my daughter in particular. I had a holiday and had a proper rest. Maybe I was a pain to everyone else!

Whilst in Norway I didn’t get much painting done either. But we stayed with some friends at their cottage in the mountains and I think I now have a group of subjects to paint for an exhibition at the RHS. It won’t be next year, but if I get my act together, possibly the year after.

As here in the UK one is not allowed to pick certain plants. But I made a note of the plants around my friend’s cottage and I think they will make a very good subject series.

© Skinntryte page

I know that this page in my small Moleskin drawing book looks very boring. But this is how botanical art paintings start, particularly when planning a series of paintings. I’m afraid that I have written the Norwegian names, but you will also see the scientific names if you want to look them up.

Three of the plants are important for fruit picking in Norway –

  • The Vaccinum vitas-idaea is called Tyttebær in Norwegian and Lingon in Swedish (goes with your Ikea meatballs), but Cowberry in English. They are the same genus as the Cranberries we buy in the shops, but a smaller species.
  • Blåbær is Blueberry in English, but again a different and smaller species from the ones we buy in the shops.
  • Multe is Cloudberry in English. They are the most sought after and difficult to find – but generally one knows of a ‘spot’, and doesn’t tell anyone else! There are very special rules governing Cloudberries. One is not allowed to pick the flower and definitely not allowed to pick the fruit until it is fully ripe. If you are caught with red fruit you are fined.

In 1974 and long before I knew the importance of Cloudberries,  my parents visited me in Norway  and we took them into the mountains. My mother loved these delicate white flowers and picked a whole bunch of them!!

Skinntryte is also a form of blueberry. I have found several English names for it including Whortleberry and Bilberry. They grow with Blueberries and for those who don’t know the difference, they might also pick these.

Krekling is apparently becoming more interesting to harvest. It is Crowberry in English.

Of course Tettegras is the Common Butterwort, which is a carnivorous plant. When picking fruit in the mountains, I think one is very glad that there is something that digests all the buzzy, biting things!

Last of all, the Flekkmarihånd is the Marsh Orchid and just beautiful.

This is my friend’s cottage in the mountains. They have invited me back next year to continue painting the series. Thank you Eva and John.

© 1.Eva & John's hytte

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