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 workshop: Dark Hellebores and White Snowdrops

I couldn’t believe it, but between us all we had enough dark Hellebores and Snowdrops to concentrate on the effects of doing something light against a dark background.

The intention of the workshop was to show how little work was really necessary on a white flower when placed against a dark background. Luckily I have some very dark Hellebores and one called ‘Slate’, that were still flowering. Additionally one of the students came with some that were a delicious ruby-red.

I was afraid that we might have to use the Leucojum that are still flowering in the garden, because the snowdrops really didn’t do too well and were almost finished – or finished off by slugs. The Leucojum normally doesn’t start flowering until after the Snowdrops, but this year started in December, before the Snowdrops. Weird!

I won’t rabbit on any more but show the progression during this weekend’s workshop. As usual it was a lovely group and they worked hard.

Painting like mad with coloured pencils.
Painting like mad with coloured pencils.


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The next botanical art workshop in Bosham will be 18-20 March when we will be doing ‘Spring is on the way: flowers & bulbs’. It would be nice if those coming to the workshop would consider doing the flower attached to the bulb. I think that botanical pictures showing what also lies beneath the surface can be as interesting as that above the ground. There are still some places available, so do get in touch.

Hellebores, snowdrops and daffodils in December!

I haven’t quite finished sending out all my Christmas wishes yet, but this is intriguing. 

I had my last botanical weekly art class of the year today. Everyone was sort of winding down and when I went down to the shed with my eye half on all of the things I still haven’t sorted in the garden, I saw all of the above flowers, plus a lot more. One of my students was looking for something to do on this last day so she chose………

 If you can’t quite make out what she is doing it is this:

   But she could have chosen any of the above, or even Primroses, daisies, geraniums, periwinkle or even snapdragons. What a strange year! I just hope that there are some Hellebores and Snowdrops left for the workshop in February.

Promised Hellebore workshop pictures

I promised to show the Hellebores following the botanical art workshop at the weekend.  Unfortunately I couldn’t do it before now as one student came back during the week for a class – taking advantage of being on holiday in the area; one went back to Norway; and one wanted to do some more at home after the workshop. However, here they are. I am really pleased with the pictures so far.  All the students decided to use coloured pencil, but painting Hellebores face exposed is not easy, whether using watercolour or coloured pencil. There is a lot of detailed work.

For those of you who do know a bit about coloured pencil and botanical art, no embossing tool was even near any of the pictures. They all decided to try doing it the hard way via controlling their pencil and carefully laying layers of colour. The results of this were really good.  Personally I feel that if you can avoid the embossing tool as much as possible, the result is more realistic and of course you don’t damage the paper. I think that In the end the students found the spots on the petals the most difficult.

It was the spot pattern on some of the Hellebores that had attracted several of them to choose these particular flowers, but they didn’t find it as easy as they had thought. The reason for this was that the spots guide the insects to the nectaries and this creates a specific pattern, but at the same time they accentuate the shape and fall of the petals – almost in the same way as the veins do. Not easy.

It was interesting listening to the conversation round the table about their individual choices of flowers. One felt she wasn’t able to get things really dark with CP, so chose the dark flower.  She found that spending time on choosing the right colours and deciding the order in which they were used, helps a lot – as does being conscious of contrast. Another person chose a pale flower as they had difficulty doing pale. One person didn’t really like Hellebores but wanted to learn how to do them.

As each of them benefitted from looking at each others work, it was quite rewarding. I think that all were surprised and pleased with their results.

Please enjoy.

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Hellebore Botanical art workshop in Bosham

I started a three- day workshop in Bosham yesterday and was surprised to see that all those attending chose to use coloured pencil. Those artists who have already been to me before, know that I teach both coloured pencil and watercolour. I think it has only happened once before that the medium of choice for everyone was coloured pencil

Some people had brought Hellebores from their own gardens to paint, but in the end they all chose from our garden. You might already know that Hellebores are rather promiscuous and therefore breed more than rabbits do and aren’t too choosey about which variety they choose to mate with either! We have Niger ones, slate ones, pale ones, dark ones, spotty ones and a really lovely one we noticed today that was pink and green, with tips of lime green. Amazing.

People have been working hard and concentrating on what they were doing, except each time the pheasant appeared in the garden. He is quite beautiful with a white head and with wattles. I’m not exactly sure what type he is, but if anyone knows, please tell me.

Yesterday a lot of time went into planning the Hellebore picture. Although they probably wouldn’t finish the whole thing over the weekend, I felt it important to focus a little on composition so that when they added to the picture later,  the composition had been planned properly.

The colour was started yesterday, mostly around the stamens. Today they have been forging ahead and these were the results by about lunchtime today. Hopefully I will be able to show some finished results by end of play tomorrow.

Painting a Pineapple – a labour of love!

I love painting, be it with watercolour, coloured pencil ink or just graphite. Many consider using some of these materials is ‘mark making’, rather than painting, but…….

Today I haven’t been painting at all. I have been getting things ready to take some work up to London tomorrow; hand-in for the annual SBA botanical art exhibition at Westminster central hall in April. I hate this aspect of painting, getting work ready for exhibitions! But tomorrow I get to meet old friends and other members of the SBA when they also hand in their work.

Then back to painting. But before I show a couple more pictures of the pineapple, a touch of Spring!




Some more pictures of the pineapple progression. I don’t know whether you notice this or not, but once I have had the first wash on an area, I use a lot of fairly dry brush work to do the detail for each segment. As I mentioned above, starting to paint a pineapple is a labour of love. But every single segment is so different and of course each one faces in a different direction.





Finishing off Hellebores for 2014

I have talked about Hellebores for such a long time this year as they started off flowering early and I was afraid there wouldn’t be much left by the time the workshop came about. Well as you know, they are still strutting manfully in the garden – even with all this rain.

Before I started painting botanically, I never thought that the winter could produce so much beauty. Now I emphasise these magnificent blooms in the garden.

Before going back to talking about the RHS exhibition and how that is going, and the subject of the next workshop, I thought I would include a few of the Hellebores that I have done. There is only one this year, but as you may now know (for those who follow the blog), some of my pictures can take several weeks to do.





Hellebores workshop success

We had a really enjoyable three- day botanical art workshop from Friday until Sunday. There may have been periods of dark clouds and rain outside, but inside we had plenty of colourful Hellebores and a lot of laughter. You will see shortly if the laughter was of detriment to the painting.

These are a couple of comments I have had already:

“Thank you a three lovely days, I had a great time and managed to paint something, progress indeed”

“Such a lovely 3 days ”

Hellebores are really beautiful flowers. A gardener once told me that they are very promiscuous. Often different coloured Hellebores are planted next to each other in a flower bed and are readily fertilised by each other. However, we still have a variety of different colours from white to very dark red/blue/black.

In the garden, Hellebores are often only seen standing statuesquely but with their heads hanging. In the workshop we had them floating in bowls of water with their lovely centres smiling up at us.

This is some of the work created at the workshop. Would you have liked to join us? The next workshop is at the end of this month. Either check it out on my website http://www.gaynorsflora.com, or wait for the next blog.




Next Botanical Art workshop – Hellebores

The next workshop is February 28th – March 2nd. That is Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The topic suggestion is Hellebores.

Many will have seen Hellebores and snowdrops
poking their heads up in the garden already – as long as their gardens are not underwater.

I feel so sorry for all those people who are struggling in the UK, because of the wind and rain. I am so grateful to have been spared and can only imagine what they are going through.

Back to Hellebores and the botanical art workshop. I have one or two places available on the workshop and it is suitable for those who want to start painting botanically, to those who are already fairly well accomplished. You can use watercolour, coloured pencil or graphite and as the class is kept deliberately small I will be able to give individual attention to everyone.

The workshop is held in the beautiful village of Bosham, near Chichester on the South coast of England. Beautiful even now!

Can I tempt you with one or two pictures from my garden this week?

Do get in touch via this blog or my website http://www.gaynorsflora.com if you want to take part in the workshop or make any comments.