Botanical Art workshop

Now I am back into the swing of things with a two- day botanical art workshop. The title was based on pictures I took at this time last year; spring bulbs! Bad mistake. Most spring bulbs are finished now.

I trawled through the local garden centre and found some worn out tulips, fading well in their pots, and some Fritillary. I therefore bought the latter, and some Osteospermum. One student found some Lily of the Valley and another brought some more Fritillary from the garden. Challenges galore.

I think that the greatest challenge was the pattern on the Fritillary and this was tried both in watercolour and coloured pencil. Thank goodness for a little knowledge about Fibonacci. It certainly helps in knowing about the spiral when planning the pattern.

For those who might not know, Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician and he worked out the mathematical process behind the spiral which we basically find in nature and in good design. For example, the spiral of segments in a pineapple and it’s leaves, a pine cone, the centre of a sunflower – and of course the pattern on a Fritillary petal.

Hopefully I will be back with some pictures from the workshop tomorrow. Things look promising, but I have students who have not painted since they were at school, and those who are very experienced. Believe it or not, it is those with experience who feel most challenged as it is generally very specific problems that they want to overcome.

I think it fitting that I show you Diane Sutherland’s exhibit for the RHS. She painted these Fritillary on vellum. In fact, the largest piece of vellum in this series is from Rory McEwen’s vellum left to the Hunt Institute of Botanical Art in Pittsburgh.


Teaching with Fieldbreaks at Goodnestone Park Gardens

On Monday of this week I went to Kent to teach at Goodnestone Park Gardens. What a beautiful area. It is so peaceful and they are so welcoming there.

This is the second year that I have had classes at Goodnestone Park with Fieldbreaks and the workshops are seemingly more popular each time.

I had a lovely group of people with half of them using coloured pencil, one eventually chose to use graphite and the remainder watercolour.

I think that things were about a week behind in comparison to where I live. In some places you could almost see the green tips begin to appear on the hedging, there were loads of daffodils, no tulips, the Magnolia x soulangeana was still closed but nearly ready to burst although the Magnolia x stillata was fully open and the Camelias were glorious. There was in fact a lot to choose from if only you looked and were able to see. The flowers eventually chosen to paint were the above, plus Primroses, Periwinkle, Hellebore and Fritillary. The results were very good and as far as I can tell, all those taking part were pleased with their results.

I get quite chuffed when students achieve what they set out to do – and in some instances even exceed that.

The only thing I hadn’t been prepared for was the summer warmth. I had layers to keep me warm, but even so I hadn’t expected it to be as warm and lovely as it was.

I will be having another workshop at Goodnestone Park with Field Breaks in June. Come and join us in this peaceful environment.