7 days until the Set-up for the RHS exhibition

For anyone who might just be picking up on this for the first time; for the last three years I have been preparing six pictures to exhibit at the next RHS Botanical art exhibition. It is to be held in London at the RHS’s Lindley Hall, 11-12 April.

The pictures are of six different crabapples, Malus ‘Red Jade’, Malus ‘Evereste’, Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’, Malus x atrosanguinea ‘Gorgeous’, Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’.  Each of them are in coloured pencil and are of ripe crabapples, dissected crabapples, crabapple blossom, Longitudinal section of the flower, enlarged stamen, style & stigma and a transverse section of the ovary. Each picture basically shows in detail the times when people are most interested in the life of a crabapple tree.

Normally one sees the tree covered with blossom later on in April to early May and the next time one is interested is when the tree is covered with red or yellow apples. But do people really look at the trees, the blossom or the apples? Very rarely. For example, they assume that the blossom is the same on each tree. But they are very different.

I wanted to show the beauty of the trees right down to the detail. But I also wanted to create beautiful pictures of the whole works. Obviously it is up to those who view the pictures as to whether I have succeeded or not. It will also be up to the judges at the RHS as to whether I get a medal or not.

The judging is carried out by the picture committee and these include botanical artists, botanists, and photographers. They have extremely strict criteria and I will be judged on my worst picture. This means that they are not only judging for correctness of botanical detail, but also how I use the medium I have chosen, the composition, the information I have provided in and with the picture, and the way I have presented the exhibit. They want to see that my work is consistent and that is why the worst picture is judged: Bearing in mind, no picture is ever 100% perfect!

Today I have had to re-do one of the pictures for colour matching in Photoshop. I discovered this morning (after I had spent all morning teaching), that one of the pictures was incorrectly colour matched. Why do I need this? I will be using segments of the pictures (as I have shown you in the blog) to provide further information about each each picture at the exhibition. Additionally, I will be able to get gicleé prints from these – although that is of lesser importance at the moment.

It is now dark, so I will have to wait until tomorrow to see if I have succeeded with this or not. In the meantime, I am getting as much information as possible about the crabapples I have chosen. And now, a glimpse of the next picture, the M. John Downey. Now these are very different to the M. Red Jade, M. Evereste and M. Red Sentinel that you have seen in earlier blogs – aren’t they?

Malus x sylvestris 'John Downey' blossom- in coloured pencil
Malus x sylvestris ‘John Downey’ blossom- in coloured pencil




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.


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.


Crab apple blooming delayed by cold!

Well, we all want warm weather as soon as possible. We are tired of the cold and want to see normal signs of spring. But, at the moment I am grateful for the slight delay the weather affords me in relation to crab apple as blooming!

A positive. The sun is shining and although cold, it is dry. The world still looks good out there.

Why do I want a delay?

As you know, in doing the crab apple series of pictures, I intend to also include a dissection of each of the flowers. The flowers for each of the crab apples are so different. Some petit and strictly formed, whilst some are big and blowsy. If you have looked at the crab apple variety, you might have some idea as to what the flower might look like having seen the apple – but it takes me by surprise every time. An apple blossom is not the same from one variety to another. Have a look when you get the chance. Which is my favourite? I don’t know!

Anyway, during the coming crab apple blossoming period of normally about ten days, I will need to dissect a flower from each of my chosen varieties to examine, measure and sketch in preparation for the final pictures. I need to get this done If I am to succeed in even getting a chance at finishing the series this year. Getting a space at next years RHS exhibition is another issue!

Please keep your fingers crossed for me that I will get done all the dissections in time as my sister and her family will be staying with us from this coming Saturday out April. My sister and family are coming from Australia, from the hottest summer ever recorded! I don’t see her too often and therefore want to spend as much time with her as possible. I have a plan.

At the moment, each of the crab apple trees have buds with the green leaves peeping out, except for the John Downie that only has pregnant buds. Hopefully the actual blossoming time will be a little delayed and maybe even be longer than the normal ten days. But, I will be getting up extra early to get at least a couple of hours work in before anyone gets up. But as one of my nieces has a 5 month old baby, maybe this is wishful thinking?

The following pictures are from the Malus Red Jade. This is how they are today 1April. Last year they were like this 18 March! Except for a sudden heat wave, it looks as though I might get a bit of the delay I had hoped for. Sorry I am so selfish!