Its all go in May and June with botanical art.

Last weekend IAPI – the Institute of Analytical Plant illustrators, had one of its meetings in the Lake District. We went both to see Beatrix Potter’s botanical illustrations at the museum in Ambleside, and to John Ruskins home, which is an absolutely stunning botanical garden on the edge of Coniston Water. I don’t think I have ever seen such a display of colour!

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Artists Glade
Artists Glade

No comments could make this more beautiful.

However, after this fantastic weekend away, we came back well prepared to take part in the hanging of the Society of Floral painters exhibition at the Oxmarket in Chichester. The exhibition opened successfully on Tuesday evening and since then there has been a steady stream of visitors to see all the wonderful Floral pictures.  They range from a strict botanical style to a much looser style. But, although very different, the quality in each genre is very good.

By the way, that isn’t just me that has commented on this as of course I do have a vested interest; but visitors to the gallery have been extremely impressed.

Do come along at some point between now and the 12th June. Except for Mondays, a different person will be demonstrating their style of work each day. I am demonstrating coloured pencil tomorrow, Saturday 28 May and watercolour 7 June. The address is the Oxmarket, St Andrews Court, East St, Chichester PO19 1YH. This weekend the Chichester Flower Festival is also happening.wpf3269d6f_05_06

First Iris workshop at Goodnestone Park

I don’t want to create any false impressions. The botanical art workshop on Irises was my first one on the subject this year. I will be having another one at the end of the month in Bosham.

As many people know there are several forms of Iris, a rough division can be bearded or non- bearded. The ones you can buy in the supermarket are frequently non-bearded, whereas bearded ( the fluffy bit at the top of the petals that hang down [describing non-botanically]), can often be bought in florists or seen in gardens at this time of year. The petals of the bearded iris often appear more papery than the other sort.

I took a few bunches of the Iris sanguinea with me to Goodnestone Park where the workshop was held. I used these to encourage the students to study the flower and pick it to pieces so that they had a better understanding of how it was formed. For those who hadn’t done botanical art before, they were a little disconcerted and afraid that I expected them to do botanical illustration. However, they soon found out that this was not my intention and by the end of the workshop understood why I had got them to study the flower so much to begin with.

Goodnestone Park has a lovely walled garden and we are given the opportunity to pick suitable specimens of flowers to paint. Several chose beautiful stately bearded irises, whilst others chose to paint from the ones I had brought with me.

As is usual in my workshops, I spend time helping the students to get a good drawing of their specimens, as the final picture will only be as good as the drawing used to start it. I am told that this was felt to be a useful exercise in itself. But firstly, here are some pictures of the workshop.

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Now the results of the two day workshop. I think that having studied the flower so well in advance, the students were surprised at how good the results were, particularly with such a complicated flower.

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Finally, tomorrow, Sunday, is the last day of the Chichester Open Studio trail. We have had many lovely visitors and we would like to say thank you to everyone who has been to see us. It was complicated going away or the last couple of days to take the workshop in Kent, but I enjoyed it. If you have the opportunity to come and see me at work in my shed tomorrow, please do come.

First day botanical art workshop by Oslo Fjord

The sun shone in my window at 05:00 this morning – bright and powerful. I went back to sleep!

After a lovely breakfast in the Thon Hotel Åsgårdstrand, we started the workshop by choosing specimens to paint.

I had been very lucky to get some Norwegian plants from the mountains in Telemark as described yesterday. I had also got some standard flowers from the local garden centre, but nothing exotic from warmer climates. In addition to this, some of the students had been out and picked some flowers (with permission) round the hotel.

The plants chosen to paint were Multe or Cloudberry, pansies, Dianthus and the lovely Hydrangea Paniculata. Some people will be using watercolour, and some coloured pencil. It already looks very promising. So far graphite drawings have been done and traced ready to start painting tomorrow. Although one person has already completed one small picture.

The first picture is from my bedroom at 07:00 this morning. The remainder are from the room we are using to paint. Please make particular note of the final picture which is a view from our painting room.










Chichester open studios art trail last weekend

Yesterday I was in London at the SBA annual exhibition opening. It is well worth seeing and there is a lot of good botanical art. You will need plenty of time, but luckily you can stop now and again and get a cup of tea – or coffee, in the cafe in Westminster Central Hall.

Tomorrow is the start of the last weekend with Open Studios art trail . I understand that the weather here will be really good tomorrow after all. We have been hearing all week that it was going to be especially bad tomorrow, but it looks as though this will happen overnight.

Luckily, if there is any rain there is no problem coming in to see me with wet clothes and shoes and it would be an opportunity to dry out. However, I can imagine that at some venues they might struggle.

I look forward to seeing you either tomorrow or Sunday. My watercolour picture is coming on leaps and bounds. I think I might use the ‘template’ for my coloured pencil demonstration on Tuesday at the SBA exhibition. It would be a good comparison between the two media.

I am showing you some pictures of my gallery this weekend. It is only a glimpse, but you will be able to see the pictures properly when you come. I’m sorry that all those of you who live abroad will not be able to make it.





Starting last picture again!

Well. I guess that any artist feels in a quandary when they feel a picture isn’t going as well as they want it to. But, starting a botanical art picture again, and at that, one in coloured pencil, needs some determination.

After starting the most recent Crab apple picture, nothing seemed straight forward with it. Each leaf was an effort and heavy going and I felt that its expression of lightness was compromised. Each one seemed to take forever and didn’t seem quite right. After I took breaks, going back with fresh eyes helped, but I still had the overall feeling that it wasn’t the best picture I had done to date.

Unfortunately I am a perfectionist and if what I am doing isn’t the best I can do, I’m not happy!

Anyway, I made the decision to start it again. This time the leaves seem to be developing much better and I am happy with the result so far. I just have to make sure I don’t mess it up over the rest of the picture. I have a long way to go, so anything can happen.

By the way, I have decided to say which crab apple I am doing at the moment. It is Malus Evereste. A beautiful stripy little apple. Some of them have double ‘bums’ underneath!

I decided on this one a couple of years ago as someone brought some branches to one of my workshops. I ended up doing sketches from the ones left behind after the workshop. Since then I have also found a source for a tree to paint in the village. But, as with the other five pictures in the series, I can only include the information I have already received.

Attached is the part of the painting completed before I ditched it!


A very busy few weeks

A busy time. I demonstrated at the Society of Floral painters exhibition at the Oxmarket in Chichester, twice. Once with coloured pencils and once with watercolour. People were interested in both and seemed to like my results. However, there is a huge fascination for the coloured pencils. There were lots of comments about how they didn’t realise what could be achieved with them. I love working with them, but also enjoy watercolour.

Since the exhibition, I have had my normal weekly classes and spent a few days in Amsterdam with my children. That of course was enjoyable. We came back on Saturday and I went off to Goodnestone Park gardens on Monday, teaching a botanical art workshop for Field Breaks. It seemed to go well, some returning students and over half using coloured pencil.

I think I will have to write a separate blog on coloured pencil and future plans.

Today I am starting another workshop over three days in Bosham. Again over half are returning students.