UK native plants packed for RHS botanical art exhibition

Packed and ready to go.

Tomorrow two of us are travelling up to London to set up the ABBA table in the RHS Lindley Hall, Vincent Square near Victoria Station. It will be the RHS botanical art show with the best of International botanical artists showing their work. Neither of us are exhibiting our own work this time, but we will be demonstrating different techniques.

The main reason for having the table at the exhibition is to talk about the plans for the Worldwide Botanical art day in May 2018 and to encourage British botanical artists to take part. A new Association of British Botanical Artists (ABBA) formed to do this has put an initial ‘call for entries’ on it

On  Friday and Saturday this week, I have chosen to demonstrate a sketch book or study page in graphite and watercolour from  one of the native plants I have packed to take with me. Come along and see how I do this.

Apart from the Primrose, do you know what these plants are called?

The one on the right, with hardly any leaves just yet, is a Bilberry. This is a small wild blue berry. It doesn’ look very interesting at the moment, but if you are going to paint the portrait of a plant, including something from various stages in its life cycle, makes the resulting picture more interesting.

The plant above  the Bilberry with the small oval leaves is Cowberry and has small red berries. You might know it as Lignonberry and has smaller and sharper tasting berries than cranberries. This plant has the beginnings of tiny flower buds.

The one above the Primrose is a Crowberry and will eventually have small, almost black berries. Again the plant doesn’t seem so interesting in this stage of its life, but I think might offer some challenges whilst painting its portrait.

Common for for all three species ( not the Primrose) is that they all produce fruit that is edible.

I am lucky enough to be able to do some sketches now, while the plants are only just coming out of their winter state. This will be particularly useful for me and for future work I have planned.

Do come and see us at the RHS, Lindley Hall, Vincent Square, Friday and Saturday.

The Bearded Iris: 52 Shades of Grey.

A bearded Iris in Graphite on Bristol board

Today I have been licking my wounds and demonstrating coloured pencil in botanical art at the Society of Floral Painters Exhibition, the Oxmarket, Chichester. I had a lot of interested people looking at how ‘crayons’ can be used successfully. Hopefully we might get a few converts.

I have been working on a piece with Indian Corn as the subject. The painting has been going on and off for a long time, but hopefully with the little I did today and the work I will be doing on it at the Stansted Garden Show, I might get some more of it done. In time you might see it, as long as I don’t ruin that too. Understandably I am getting a little unsure about transporting work in progress after yesterday’s events!

After I came home today, I have been getting some more things ready for the show at the weekend. But I have also colour-matched and printed yesterday’s damaged original. Here it is.

The Bearded Iris: 52 shades of grey.
The Bearded Iris: 52 shades of grey.

Stunning Irises workshop in Bosham

I haven’t been very good at keeping up with my blogging as there has been so much going on this month. We came back from our weekend away, back into the thick of things and preparation for the three-day workshop that has just happened.

A few weeks ago I held a workshop for Fieldbreaks at Goodnestone Park in Kent. That was a great success (according to the students) and it was time to do the same thing here in Bosham. Irises is really the thing at the moment. Unfortunately they are so short lived. Stately and elegant in their glorious drapery; some with beards, some without; some very slim and sylph-like, others plump and very ‘Reuben-ish’. If you remember, he liked to paint women with something to them – buxom and a bit more.

We had something of everything here. The simplest in appearance were the ones you get in the supermarkets – we had a lot of them! Others brought beautiful bearded Irises and some, very beautiful slim yellow irises or blue irises with highly patterned falls (the name of one of the petals). Common for all was the way God has assembled them for us.

So that we would have a better idea of how an Iris really looks and how it is assembled, we actually took a few of them to pieces and there was a queue for the three microscopes. Initially, no-one on the workshop was interested in botanical illustration. After they had looked through the microscopes I actually saw some of them drawing what they had seen! It is exciting.

We were a little late in starting to paint the irises as a fair amount of time went into examining them and drawing them ready to paint. In fact unusually, no-one started painting until the next day. But it seems that the knowledge of what they were doing (i.e. careful observation of the plant), actually seemed to help them both in the drawing of their subjects and painting them.

The sun actually shone on the second day – but it did cast some strong shadows for some of these photos.

IMG_0916 IMG_0915


Work in Watercolour and Coloured pencil on the second day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And the paintings at the end of the three days. All took Irises home with them to complete their work.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So what now? Tomorrow, all day,  I will be demonstrating Coloured pencil in botanical art at the Society of Floral Painters Exhibition at the Oxmarket in Chichester.  The exhibition is open until Sunday midday, when it will be taken down. Do try and take the opportunity to go there to have a look.

I will be having my penultimate botanical weekly art class for this school year, on Wednesday, and Thursday we will be setting up for the Stansted Garden Show due to happen from Friday until Sunday. There will be a lot to see there and I will be continuing my demonstration in coloured pencil. I understand that the weather is to improve for the occasion. I hope to see you.

Stansted Park Garden Show – stand AD25

You are all invited to come to Stansted Park Garden Show. This a yearly show situated near Chichester. For those who love their gardens, this is the place.

I have a stand in the Art and Design Marquee – and I’m terrified! Not that there is anything to be terrified about.

I believe that I am the only botanical artist there although there will be a plenty of general art and design. But there will be plants and lots of them.

Summer still does not seem to have reached us yet. Chilly and cloudy with the occasional sun burst. But I am told from several sources in Norway that they have summer proper! I can’t wait for the workshop there in four weeks time.

In the meantime, I have again spent most of the day on the organisation, information, form design etc. for the SBA exhibition at Palmengarten. I think that so far I must have spent a week solid on this. The emails come in fast and furious following sending out an email to all members asking if they intend to submit. The response so far has been really good and today I got the instructions and forms finished off and sent to those thinking about exhibiting.

I managed to start painting at 17:00. Not much of the day left. My husband had got some more Irises for me to work on the Coloured pencil picture, so I did a little on that. By the way, I intend to work on the irises in coloured pencil and the Mandeville in watercolour, at the Stansted show. But it will be different days spent on each. I haven’t decided which days yet.

This is how far I have got with the Irises. I’m afraid the lighting was not very good for the photo, but it’s better than nothing.


Tomorrow will be the last weekly botanical art class until September. After which I will be packing things together to take to Stansted for setting up on Thursday.

Botanical art workshop today – demo tomorrow.

The last day of this workshop was today. The sun shone for most of the say and obviously affected positively everyone in the room.

The workshop went well. The students seemed to be satisfied with both some of the things they had learnt, as well as what they achieved. To top it all we had a lot of fun. There seemed to be longish periods of almost silence, interspersed with hilarity.

A good workshop from the point of view of the tutor (me), but in the end everything depends on what the students got out of it.

Have a look at some of the results.




The next workshop is Tuesday 17th until Thursday 19th June and is all about beautiful roses. How difficult can they be? Not so difficult once you are given tips in what to look for in your subject; and how to translate this onto your paper. Do get in touch if you can join me.

But tomorrow I will be demonstrating at the Oxmarket Art Centre, for the Society of Floral Painters (SFP). This time I will be demonstrating watercolour.

Over the last three days whilst discussing composition and drawing, I started off my composition as an example for the students today and for the demo tomorrow. My next picture has taken three evenings to draw. It is a Mandeville plant. It is quite a complex composition because of the growing habit of the plant – which needs to be shown.

My students from the last few days all wanted to come back to Chichester to see the demo, but unfortunately live too far away to be able to drop in. I promised that I would use the blog to show them how the picture develops.

These are the the first two photos, but I am not sure whether you will see clearly enough the drawing in the first one. The second shot is the tonal under painting of a dying flower.

Hopefully one of the many buds will open tomorrow so that I can do one of the spectacular flowers.

Come and see the demo at the Oxmarket, Chichester 11:00 – 16:30.



Demonstrating colour pencil in botanical art at Oxmarket, Chichester, tomorrow

I have mentioned before that at the moment the Society of Floral Painters (SFP) has their annual floral painting exhibition in the Oxmarket Centre for Arts in Chichester. Tomorrow I will be there demonstrating the use of coloured pencil. I will be there from 11:00 until 16:30 – except for lunch.

Do come and see what I am doing. I will have a similar picture in Watercolour as an interesting comparison. The flower is the Iris that I have been doing for just over a week in between all the other mad things I’ve been doing. This is how it looks now.


In between botanical art demonstrations.

Following my botanical art demonstration at Westminster Central Hall during the SBA exhibition, I have hardly done any painting until today.

We had a few days good weather last week, so I did some much needed weeding in the garden. My husband and I also sorted what vegetables were to go into our new raised beds in the kitchen garden (he did the work). And I spent one day colour matching on Photoshop two pictures that I have just had framed. One is of Hellebore heads and the other was the large Hydrangea head in black and white.

I also had to mount some prints in preparation for the Society of Floral Painters (SFP) exhibition in Chichester handing in was on Monday and I was on one of the two assessment teams.

The arrangement of teams was quite impressive. The SFP is Floral and not necessarily botanical. I am strictly botanical, and as a counter balance, one artists paints very loosely and the third member is in between. In this way we got quite a good selection of paintings.

Once all the pictures had gone through the selection process, we were again divided into teams to hang the pictures. My husband had been a runner during the morning session and was also now hanging the pictures. In the end the SFP committee thought they would to adopt him!

Hanging the pictures lasted two days with the opening on Tuesday evening. Do go and visit the Oxmarket Art Centre in Chichester. It is a good exhibition and there is something there to suit all artistic tastes, as long as it is in relation to the kingdom of plants.

I am demonstrating coloured pencil and botanical art this first Sunday between 11:00 and 16:30. Do come and watch and ask questions if there is something you would like to know. I will be demonstrating again the following Sunday 1 June, but this time watercolour. Other artists will be demonstrating other techniques whilst the exhibition is on. Have a look at my website for the address, dates and times of the exhibition.

On Wednesday my husband and I drove up to London to collect pictures following the SBA exhibition at Westminster and to attend the AGM meeting. One of the topics was the exhibition that the SBA are providing pictures for at Palmengarten, Frankfurt in October. We are both heavily involved with collecting the pictures from across the UK and getting them to Frankfurt. But more about that at a later stage. But we managed to start the collection of paintings during the AGM. We are off to a good start.

Today was my usual weekly class and since then I have been painting.

Do you remember the Irises that I did in watercolour and then demonstrated in coloured pencil at Westminster? I have continued with that today and will be using the same to demonstrate on Sunday. I think I have been doing myself a disservice in trying to keep it true to the watercolour as it is quite different to the iris I am now painting from. I’m tying myself up in knots.

This is it so far. The completed watercolour one first followed by the very incomplete coloured pencil one.




Today at the SBA exhibition at Westminster

It has been a long day but a very good one.

We took the 2hour train journey up to London today in time to start demonstrating when the exhibition opened at 11:00. I had hardly time to get out my equipment – let alone sit down, before keen botanical artists arrived to watch me demonstrating.

As planned, I took out the Watercolour of the Irises to use as my subject for the coloured pencil demonstration. Luckily I had managed to get a bunch of Irises in the way through Victoria Railway Station that was exactly the same colour as the original irises. I now had both the irises as a suitable botanical subject and the completed watercolour painting,

At any one time there were quite a few people sitting or standing to take in the demo. The actual demo went very slowly as everyone had so many questions about the technique. This meant that apart from a lot of talking, I also showed people how to do several different techniques associated with coloured pencil. I am told that they found this interesting and useful.

Apart from anything else, I hope that I have encouraged those who had some interest in botanical art, to try it; or those who have only used watercolour to have a go with coloured pencil.

I met several people who had been to the RHS botanical art exhibition in April and who had seen me and/or the crab apple exhibit. In some instances the exhibit seems to have encouraged people to come to watch the demo today. I hope it was worth it. It definitely was for me as I met so many lovely people.

My husband took the following picture this afternoon when there were fewer people watching.


This second picture shows two of my pictures hung at the exhibition in the black and white section. They are of course in pen & ink. Additionally you will find two further coloured pencil pictures exhibited.

Tomorrow I will be teaching a class in the morning and marking assignments from the London Art College after this is finished. I doubt that I will have time to do any painting for myself, so the coloured pencil irises will have to wait. A shame as I have the right colour ones for the moment!

Demonstration at SBA exhibition, Westminster

Yesterday was the last day of the Chichester Open Studios art trail. We had many interested visitors and several of you who read this blog. Thank you for coming so far. It was lovely seeing all of you, and an honour.

After finishing yesterday we obviously had to clear everything up. Take the pictures and screens down and pack everything away for the next show. This will be at the Stansted Garden Show in June; more about that another time.

But, today I have been hastily finishing off the picture of Irises in Watercolour, so that I can trace off a similar image to use for the coloured pencil demo tomorrow. I have made some adjustments to the tracing I used and I will tell you why at the demonstration – if you are interested.

A hint might be in the following pictures. Yesterday you saw the start of the picture with only two Irises of the three intended. I was waiting for the third flower to open properly before I drew it.

It will be good to see you in London tomorrow.