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

Tomorrow is the set-up day with the RHS

Tomorrow my husband and I will be driving up to London with the Crab apple botanical art pictures due to be exhibited at the RHS, Lindley Hall from Thursday 10 April until Saturday 12 April.  We will set up the exhibition tomorrow afternoon and evening and then my husband will disappear until the next evening. I will be all on my own (sniff), but with other exhibitors of course,  when we get the results of the judging on Thursday lunchtime.

We have found a hotel not too distant from the RHS halls so I might even get a slight lie-in on Thursday morning. The exhibition will be open for the preview between 18:00 – 21:00 on Thursday evening. I think that this is meant to be for RHS members. By this time I hope that my husband has returned to either commiserate or enjoy. Either way, I think we will have a nice – but late meal in the evening. Everything is planned so far, but you know what happens to plans!

The RHS Botanical Art Exhibition and Orchid show will be open to the public on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 between 10:00 – 17:00. I understand that they are doing something new this year in that several well-known botanical artists (previous Gold medal winners) will be demonstrating their techniques.  I will be very interested in that.

So what am I doing now? Have you noticed that I am now looking ahead? This means that I think I have done as much as I can before we set off tomorrow morning – except to pack. Someone is going to look after the cats, so they will probably get spoiled to death.

Malus x zumi 'Golden Hornet' crab apples in coloured pencil
Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’ crab apples in coloured pencil
Malus x zumi 'Golden Hornet' blossom in coloured pencil
Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’ blossom in coloured pencil
Malus x zumi 'Golden Hornet' sections in coloured pencil
Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’ sections in coloured pencil

I have got everything together – I think. Pictures painted, framed and labelled. Some prints made – in case. Picture hooks, rope to hang the pictures….., a level to make sure they hang straight. Scissors. Oh I must take something to clean the glass! Visiting cards. Have I forgotten anything?

I am trying to make the house habitable again – but that doesn’t extend to the shed – I will do that on Sunday. Imagine, I can start painting again on Sunday – if I am allowed.

There is one picture remaining. I am attaching the elements from it as I have done with the other five. Bear in mind, I have grouped things to make it easier for the blog, but the whole picture does not have the same arrangement. Once I get back, I will put the pictures on my website: http://www.gaynorsflora.com. That means I might not get to paint on Sunday! We will see.

This is Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’ in coloured pencil.

 

 

3 days until the set-up for the RHS botanical art exhibition

Before I say anything else, I am so grateful to the support I am getting from you out there. I have had some lovely messages of support. Thank you. It helps.

I don’t know whether it is the messages that I have been getting, but today seemed easier somehow. I decided not to go to church this morning, so I had all morning to organise things before my husband returned. I wrote lists – in detail and have been ticking off every small element as I go along. I can actually see that I have managed some things and I know what I have left to do.

I have finished the information sheets and have printed them out. But I still have to mount them on board ready to go.

All my labelling is designed and printed. That too is ready to be mounted on board. But it is a very fiddly job as I found out last time – better to use double-sided tape than glue.

I will be taking some limited edition prints with me. They are printed and just waiting to have mounts put on them. I also did a combi-sheet of the different blooms from each Malus variety. I tried it out with the apples and also one for the dissections – but they didn’t look so nice. Too much information on one sheet. I will take some ‘Blossom’ sheets with me, but they aren’t limited edition and won’t be mounted. I have been going on about how different the blossom is on each tree and you can really see it with this page.

Guess who’s doing the ironing? And making supper? I am lucky aren’t I?

Another thing that has helped today is that I haven’t looked at the pictures at all.

This time I am going to show you the Malus x atrosanguinea ‘Gorgeous’ apples. They are of course in coloured pencil. If you don’t know their actual size, you would think they are just ordinary apples. In actual fact, they don’t taste as sour as the other crab apples and there are usually loads on the tiny tree.

Malus x atrosanguinea 'Gorgeous' crab apples in coloured pencil
Malus x atrosanguinea ‘Gorgeous’ crab apples in coloured pencil

 

6 days until the set-up for the RHS exhibition

As a botanical artist I would much prefer to paint or draw, than anything else. But my husband reminded me that in whatever you choose to do, there are always some aspects of it you would prefer not to spend too much time on.

I enjoyed getting all the information together for the six crabapple pictures in preparation for the RHS exhibition; I enjoyed the sketching, the planning, the study and drawing using a microscope and then getting down to the actual painting.  But, I haven’t enjoyed the last couple of weeks quite so much. I feel as though I am stuck behind the computer with no way to turn.

The colour matching of the pictures is now completely finished and I am satisfied with the results. What am I doing now?

I am going through all the information that I have on the crabapples – individually and generically. I realise that in some areas I might need slightly more information as some aspects of what I have found out can be confusing. I need to put it into a simple format so that people can cast their eyes over it quickly and learn something new. I have started writing a bit about the crabapples in general. All that I have gleaned is interesting, but hopefully people will want to spend more time on the artwork than the writing. I suppose this means me spending ages on this to sift out unnecessary stuff.

A week from now and I will know how I have done. I have asked before if you will either keep your fingers crossed for me or, preferably pray. I just hope that I have enough time to get all that I want to do – done.

Now a glimpse of the ‘John Downey’ crabapples.

Malus x sylvestris 'John Downey', in Coloured pencil
Malus x sylvestris ‘John Downey’, in Coloured pencil

8 days to the RHS exhibition set-up

Time is going very quickly at the moment. The sun is shining beautifully again today and it is warm. The cats have taken shelter in the shed with me.

I am searching for any morphological information about crabapples to use in my signage. But I am finding little. Perhaps because I’m not looking in the right place with the right keywords. Any help would be gratefully received!

 

This is a very short blog, but it includes a little taster of the Malus Red Sentinel picture. The dissections. I noticed that the Crab apples looked rather brown on the blog yesterday, although in reality they are a beautiful red with some pink glimpses and some orangey colours.

Malus Red Sentinel dissections in Coloured pencil
Malus Red Sentinel dissections in Coloured pencil

9 days until set-up of RHS exhibition

We have had a lovely weekend in relation to the weather. The sun has been shining and it has been a lovely temperature. I have been in the shed except for during Sunday lunch yesterday – which was Mothering Sunday.

My neck and shoulders are getting to me and I am a day later than I planned. I have actually finished doing the colour matching except for one or two tweaks.

The garden is beginning to look quite spring-like. Although we had some mild weather when the Magnolia started flowering, we had a cold blast which turned it off white. It is still going strong, but there are a lot of tepals lying on the ground now.

The Camellia have been flowering, but the cold blast sent the white ones brown and the red ones brown-tinged. The tulips are fantastic and you already know that we have plenty of Daffodils and a few Jonquil.

The Malus Evereste has now got tight flower buds on it. Can you imagine that the season is starting all over again?

I showed you the flower of the Malus Red Sentinel last time. Now I will show you the apples.

As with all the crab apple pictures, this too is in coloured pencil.

Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’ blossom

 

 

RHS exhibition results 3 weeks today!

In three weeks time, on April 10 about midday I will know if my six botanical art paintings in coloured pencil have passed muster and if they have won a medal.

I’m still hard at working up the colours in Photoshop and In between teaching classes, workshops or marking botanical art assignments for the London Art College. The days are long, but it sounds as though it is going to get colder again and the weeds in the garden might grow slowly for a short while.

The Magnolia is in full and splendid bloom; several weeks early according to pictures taken other years. Each of the crabapple trees have started sprouting. I now have seven different ones.

Would you like another glimpse from the Malus. Red Jade picture? This time it’s the apples. The full picture with dissections is quite interesting, but you will have to come to the RHS exhibition to see it.

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Glimpse from a finished crabapple painting

I am on the last steps towards finishing the RHS crabapple paintings. Except for additional research for the Malus Red Jade information labelling, I have finished the actual painting and colour matching for prints. I will give you a glimpse at the end of this blog.

Unfortunately I won’t get much work done on the next painting tomorrow as I am teaching my weekly class in the morning. But as much time as possible is now spent on these botanical paintings.

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Three weeks until the RHS botanical art exhibition

How am I doing? Will I be finished in time?

These of course are the questions I am asking myself and I imagine are the same questions for those who follow the blog.

Preparing for the RHS botanical art show which will happen in London 11 – 12 April, with preview on the evening of the 10th, has taken three years. The work is almost finished. Believe it or not.

I have finished painting each of the six pictures. I have only painted the necessary six and I haven’t painted a 7th as a reserve in case one wasn’t up to scratch ( I was advised to do this – in case). The frames are made and all that remains is working up the digital images for printing plus writing the information to hang with the pictures.

Matching the colours exactly is a hugely time consuming exercise. I prefer to do this myself unless the picture is too big for the equipment I have. As having the correct colours to reflect my subject is important for my painting, I am a perfectionist in matching the colours in Photoshop.

The last bit of work will be to research further the six Malus plants I have painted and write some information about each of them.

Three weeks is not long. The sun is shining, the garden and gardening await and May this year will be very busy with exhibitions. But, the RHS exhibition is the most important having taken three years to prepare.

Breath!

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