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.

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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.

 

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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

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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

 

Ménagerie à trois plus botanical art workshop

Please note the difference in spelling!

We have four cats, a pond with visiting ducks, a pair of Crows, Chaffinches, Wrens, Robins (as well as my husband and sister)Blackbirds, Goldfinches, Bearded Tits, Blue tits and Great Tits, two sorts of Woodpeckers, squirrels, rats and the normal rodents etc.

Although we have the cats, birds seem to feel very happy i the garden and seem to be left alone. In fact, one day there was a pheasant in the garden and the ginger one  – Fudge decided he wanted to join him, so walked towards the bird with his tail in the air. They seemed to spend a happy time following each other gently round the garden! The only things that seem to come to grief are the rats – 22 in 18 months!

During the workshop one of the students had her dog with her. She was a little worried at first as she thought her dog might chase the cats. The black & white cat – Allsorts (as in liquorice), brother of Fudge, knows how to deal with dogs. He just sits and stares them down. It always works. I think he took five minutes to train the dog!

These were some of the views from the conservatory during the workshop at the weekend!

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There was a botanical art class between Friday and Sunday. The title was May blossom and Irises. Irises are usually the topic of choice, but there was a whole garden to choose from. In the end there were 1 1/2 Iris pictures, two Canary Rose pictures, one crab apple blossom, a very pregnant Hellebore  and none of the yellow Irises from the pond. Three people used coloured pencil and two watercolour.

From my perspective the workshop was enjoyable and the feedback I have got is that those taking part also enjoyed it and learnt something too.

I am now taking on people who want to start the online botanical art course in June. To see what it is all about, have a look at my webpage on the subject. I restrict the number of people I take on board each month so that it is best to reserve your place as soon as possible. https://gaynorsflora.com/tuition-2/online-botanical-art-course/

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And the results of the weekend so far. As I forgot to take it before packing up, there is one picture missing, but hopefully we will see the finished result in due course.

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Botanical art Autumn colour workshop had Autumn colours

Isn’t it amazing what several people can do to make a botanical art workshop happen! I was worried as to whether the workshop would live up to its title as just about everything had fallen off the trees. Winter had come further than I thought it would.

But, everyone kept their eyes peeled and the majority came with subjects to paint themselves, or share with others. Wonderful.

About half of the students had been to one of my workshops before and the other half were new to me. I’m glad to say that the new students had been tempted to try by others recommendations. It was a lovely group of people and we kept the bitter cold out.

Firstly the group:

Searching for subjects?
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Hunting for subjects?
Hunting for subjects?

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You have to agree that although it was cold outside, the inside was full of warmth.

Don’t forget the Bosham Christmas Craft Trail next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You will be very welcome.

Chichester Open Studio event

I spent a lovely day last Friday painting bugs and beasties with Sarah Morrish. For once I was on the receiving end and sitting down trying to get a good result from painting. Sarah showed us what to look out for when painting bugs and we concentrated mostly on Butterflies and Moths. She also gave us some good tips in an effort to get a good result. I started a Spurge Hawkmoth, but I was so busy enjoying myself I didn’t get it finished!

Spurge Hawkmoth

Since Friday I have been working hard to catch up (of course). I had quite a few assignments to look at for the London Art College where I am the botanical art tutor. But now it is preparation for the Chichester Open Studio event that is taking place over the next two weekends, including the bank holiday Monday. I was preparing some of the pictures a couple of weeks ago and now it is time for preparing the house and garden.

Everything is growing so quickly in the garden already. The Magnolia feels as though it is long gone. The lilac tree standing next to it is just about to open its buds. The Wisteria flower buds have been swelling gently over a few weeks and now it looks as though they are about to burst.

But Robin thought that we should change the name of our house to Crab apples. Because I painted crab apples for the last series I exhibited at the RHS, we now have quite a few crab apple trees. We have four in the front garden and three in the back garden. They are an absolutely amazing display this year. But in addition to those we also have some eating apple trees in full bloom (something ate round the base of the Bramley apple tree last year, so it is struggling), a cherry tree and the Canary Rose has started to bloom. That will be an incredible sight too.

But for everything to look good, the weeds need to be removed. I have spent a long time digging up three-cornered garlic in the front garden. It looks really lovely but it seems to kill off everything else. In removing it one needs to be very careful and lift it gently so that all the new tiny bulbs don’t break off into the soil. One day I will get on top of it! Robin has been removing the same from his Fern patch before they become taken over.

A couple of days ago I removed the weeds from one of the kitchen garden beds, but today I have been weeding around the shed at the bottom of the garden. For those who haven’t already heard this, the shed is where I paint. This will be the place that hopefully you will come and visit sometime over the next two weekends.

In the house, we will move the table that I use for my classes and workshops, and hang botanical art pictures. This will include those that I have been dealing with the last few weeks. Robin looks after this side of things as I am much better at showing and telling people how I do it. With any luck we might interest more people to take up botanical art.

Do come and join us. Bosham is a lovely place to come and see at anytime of year, but during the Chichester Open studios art trail there are a lot of artists who are inviting people in to look at their artwork and to watch how they make it. Our address is in the trail catalogue which can be picked up almost anywhere, but it is also in the ‘exhibitions’ page of this website. In particular the little enclave where I live – Critchfield Rd and Windmill Field, there are several artists. But as I am the last one you get to, please don’t wear yourself out before you Reach me. You can always come for a sit-down and a cup of tea, have a wander in the garden, visit the shed (and me) at the bottom of the garden and my husband in the house. The trail is open 10:30-17:30 each day.

These pictures are all from the front garden.

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Botanical art workshop at Goodnestone Park Gardens, Kent

On Monday and Tuesday this week I lead a workshop at Goodnestone Park Gardens in Kent. I have a couple of workshops there per year for Fieldbreaks.

The subject was Hedgerow produce and most of the students were using coloured pencil. One of them had neither used coloured pencil nor watercolour previously, so this was an experience. She did very well, although it felt a bit scary for her.

They are very good at Goodnestone and allow us to pick what we want from the gardens to use as botanical subjects. Some of the subjects we can find there can be quite exciting. But funnily enough, at a workshop I often find that other than new students who have not yet grasped that the ‘prettiest’ is not always the easiest to do, people generally choose very simple subjects. I think that this is because they are more intent on improving technique or learning something new to add to their repertoire of techniques.

Here are the results. I am very pleased with them and I am sure you will think them very good too.

Tree Peoni seed capsule. Coloured pencil.
Tree Peoni seed capsule. Coloured pencil.
Tree Peoni seed capsule pair. Coloured pencil.
Tree Peoni seed capsule pair. Coloured pencil.
Portugese Laurel berries. Coloured pencil
Portugese Laurel berries.
Coloured pencil
Lily seed capsule - Coloured pencil
Lily seed capsule – Coloured pencil
Rose hips - Watercolour
Rose hips – Watercolour
Rose leaf - watercolour
Rose leaf – watercolour

This morning I had an ordinary weekly class and since then I have been working on the pen & ink Bears Britches.

Bear britches in pen& ink
Bear britches in pen& ink

I have only done a small portion of it so far and this is only establishing the flowers and fruits. Once I have established all the elements in the picture I will create tone and then…….. But you will have to wait for that.

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.

Last day of RHS botanical art exhibition in London

This is a very short blog as I am finished. I intend to write a little more tomorrow.

Normally at the end of an exhibition you are tired but exhilarated. I am exhausted and although it is a happy culmination of three years work, as you who have read my recent blogs will know, it has been eventful for me.

I met so many people today. Many who were so immersed in the paintings that they didn’t notice my face, others who were embarrassed and didn’t know what to say, and a few who either asked outright or commented that I had Been clever at matching my jacket to the colour of my face. It didn’t look good. In fact the bruising is now even under my chin. But my face only looks bad unless I touch it. My arm feels bad.

It was so good to meet so many interested people today at the RHS exhibition. It really helped to take my mind off things for a while. Quite a few people were very surprised to find out that my Crab apple pictures were in coloured pencil and not watercolour. Hopefully I can encourage more people to start using it as a serious medium.

It was lovely having the opportunity to meet so many other botanical artists from all over the world. The whole botanical art environment seems like one big family. People I met at the RHS when I exhibited in 2011, I met up with again in Pittsburgh at the opening of the Hunt Institute exhibition; who in turn introduced me to new faces (British and American) that I met again here at the RHS in the last few days. I had been introduced to the idea of the Hunt(Pittsburgh, USA) by an Italian artist when I exhibited in Lucca, Italy.

It is a very small world and I am very lucky – and happy.

This picture was sent to me by Alena Lang Phillips, who I met for the first time today – but have corresponded with via this blog. Thank you Alena. You have done a good job of making me look almost normal!

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