My Perpetual journal

I have to be honest, but this idea is not mine. I came across it when researching different types of journal. I hope that Lara Gastinger won’t mind me taking her name in vain, but I saw that she had been doing this for years.

Many people try to do a drawing a day, but knowing how I get involved in what I do, I thought I would never get anything else done. My aim was to be quicker with what I do – but that is what everyone wants to be. Many of my students want to paint faster, and I remember I wanted to do so when I first started painting botanical subjects. But I get slower and slower because I increase the detail and complexity of my paintings.

Because each picture takes so long to finish, I am doing very little ordinary quick sketches. I wanted to increase my output and thus increase my ability to make quick sketch notes. How was I going to do it?

I now have an A5 Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook and have set off a double page to do one sketch a week, and next year I will go back again to the same page to do another one. I have done this since March this year, but missed three weeks whilst I was sketching and colour matching mountain plants in Norway.

Why does this help me? Well, I have decided to minimise the graphite help marks I draw so that I go straight into it with pen, then do colour washes.

23-24 August this year I am having my annual Fruit & veg workshop (places still available)and I thought some preparation sketches for this would be ideal in my Perpetual diary. This is what I have done today. I took several photos so that you can see the stages. If you want to learn about this – and more, get in touch and sign up as soon as you can.

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Last two Bosham botanical art workshops for 2016

I have been remiss in showing some of the pictures from my last two 2016 workshops in Bosham. One was about autumn colours where all the students chose to use coloured pencil, and the other was pen & ink.

As usually happens there was a lovely group of students, all wanting to learn and enjoy the workshop. On both occasions the members in the group jelled very quickly and there was a lovely atmosphere. I don’t know what it is about botanical art, but it does seem to have a very positive effect on the people doing it.

Rather than rattle on, I will just show the pictures. As soon as I have the workshop schedule for 2017 finished, I will post this. However, so that you can put this in your diary, the first botanical art workshop in Bosham next year, will be Friday 27 – Saturday 28 Jan. The topic will be Textures: bark and moss as examples.

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First botanical art picture accepted by Chelsea Physic Garden

I am so excited. I got a letter in the post today to tell me that my first picture has been accepted by the Chelsea Garden Florilegium, without needing to be adjusted in any way. On top of that, the comments from the Kew Botanists who evaluated the work, were pretty good too – that made the acceptance even more special.

I applied to and was accepted as a member of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium in the middle of last year; full membership is limited making membership even more exciting. The intention of membership is to document all the plants that are in the Chelsea Physic Garden. As you can imagine, there are thousands, so it will take a long time.

For the privilege of being a full member, everyone is meant to submit a picture each year, of one of the plants in the garden. Of course, a plant needs to be chosen that is not already in the archives. As I became a member half-way through the year I was in reality excused from painting a picture until 2016, but those who know me know I like a challenge.

I painted the Fuchsia microphylla. As the name suggests the leaves are minuscule, as are the flowers, although I was surprised by the size of the fruit. Except for the pen & ink habit drawing, which is life-size, the rest of the painting is on a larger scale. Once the scale of anything is increased, the colours become much more intense. Anyone who has looked through a microscope to see the detail of grey-looking grass, will know how intense the multitude of colours is in reality. The Fuchsia microphylla was painted enlarged because it was so tiny and I wanted to convey its real beauty.

I have posted the picture before, but here it is again, now as part of the archives of the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Fuchsia microphylla from Chelsea Physic Garden, in watercolour with ink.
Fuchsia microphylla from Chelsea Physic Garden, in watercolour with ink.

New botanical art YouTube video – Pen & ink technique

I am developing an online botanical art course using written guidelines, links to good support subjects, diagrams, photos and videos showing techniques. I will also discuss the materials you might wish to use. But have a look on this website under Tuition and you can read a little more about it.

In the process of writing the course I have been filming work as I do it and making videos from the material. The course will include several detailed videos with accompanying written information to make sure that the techniques are understood.

The videos posted already have been done ‘quick time’ so that you can see the effect of the process as the subject is developed. But in the course the videos are broken down into smaller bites so that each technique can be clearly seen. Although the ‘quick time’ videos are available on YouTube,  you will need to sign up for the course to see the full material.

Christmas will soon be upon us and no doubt there will be less time to do painting, drawing or writing for a couple of weeks. But I think you may hear from me at least one ore time before Christmas.

Before you go, do have a look at the latest YouTube video on the pen and ink technique that I use. How to draw a Himalayan seedpod with pen / ink


Another successful botanical art pen & ink workshop in Bosham

The last workshop was a week ago – pen and ink. I’m afraid I got carried away and forgot to get a few of the photo shots before people left. I now have all of them and can display them on the blog.

When you look at them, you must admit that they are good. All of the students were using this technique for the first time, therefore, not one of them was comfortable with it. It will be interesting to see if they enjoy the technique as much as I do, long term. I know I will be keeping my eyes open to what is produced in the future.

Do enjoy the photos.

By the way, I will be giving everyone who attends the summer workshop holiday in Norway, the option to learn the technique over a couple of days during that week. I will be taking the additional equipment necessary, with me. But just one more reason why you might decide to join the group for this holiday! Do sign up.

Of course the class working. They concentrated  hard on this workshop, but it was worth it.


Botanical art workshops in Bosham for 2016, now available.

Phew! I have just managed to post the list of botanical art workshops for 2016. Do have a look at them and make your reservations for next year. The schedule and the booking form can be found under Tuition – Workshops. My UK based workshops are limited to 8 people so that I can concentrate on each person and give them advice to improve their skills.

I’m afraid that I haven’t got quite so far with the Norwegian botanical art workshop holiday. The hotel is booked for Friday 24 June to Friday 1 July 2016 and I have posted this in the relevant section under Tuition. However, all the details and booking form have yet to be completed. Do start saving. Fantastic weather has been booked yet again and the hotel is looking forward to looking after us. This year, everyone was amazed by all the flora that was out. Norway is now very careful about using sprays on roadsides etc, so now everywhere is fantastically beautiful as wild flowers are encouraged.

As well as working on botanical art painting and improvement, we will be taking trips out to collect subjects to paint, and hopefully organise an afternoon trip a little further afield too. I intend to offer  a two-day focus on pen & ink in addition to the mediums you normally use (watercolour, coloured pencil or graphite). I will be providing the materials for the pen & ink, so that no-one needs to worry about sourcing that equipment prior to the week’s holiday workshop.

I’m afraid that in looking through the pictures from the Norwegian workshop holiday this year, I got rather involved in them and as well as posting a few on the page about the holiday, I have included some more here. Please do enjoy. If you like the photos, imagine what it is like to see it all in real life!

I look forward to hearing from you soon.



View along the valley at Blåfarveværket
View along the valley at Blåfarveværket
Looking at part of the exhibition in the held in the Mine managers house at Blåfarveværket.
Looking at part of the exhibition in the held in the Mine Director’s house at Blåfarveværket.
From the same exhibition.
From the same exhibition.

This exhibition was very unusual as it was held in the Mine Directer’s barn. Torvald Moseid had embroidered a long frieze depicting Orfeus & Euridike. He had done it between 1978 and 1985 – apparently working on nothing else. Each section depicted beautifully the feelings throughout this story.

Flora from Mølen
Flora from Mølen
Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 18.34.42
More flora from Mølen.

You need to bear in mind that Mølen is Norway’s largest beach of rolling stones, but apart from being an area of scientific interest, it is outstandingly beautiful.

The two last Botanical art Bosham workshops of 2015

2015 is not over yet; we still have the rest of October, November and December. So much happens in the garden during this time as things switch off to rest and reconstitute themselves ready to spring open in all their glory next year.

Personally, I find that there is still so much out there that I want to paint. I used to think that it would be a time of rest for me too – not true. I still don’t have enough time to paint or draw the living three-dimensional plants onto my two-dimensional paper (or whatever it is I paint on).

I am in the process of putting together a botanical art workshop schedule for next year. I have just heard back from the hotel in Åsgårdstrand (where Edvard Munch had his studio), that they would love to have us again at the end of June 2016, so I can now get the rest of the schedule together and hopefully post it on my website during this coming week.

In the meantime, information about the two remaining Bosham botanical art workshops for 2015. There are only two vacant places for the ‘Stunning Pen & Ink’ workshop, Friday and Saturday 30-31 October. That is not this coming week, but the one after. If you are interested, do get in touch as soon as possible if you don’t want to be disappointed.

For the last 2015 botanical art workshop there is one vacant place; ‘All those stunning Autumn colours’, Friday to Sunday, 20-22 November. Again do get in touch.

Obviously the Pen & Ink workshop will just be pen & ink and I can supply you with the necessary equipment. The Autumn colour workshop can be in either watercolour or coloured pencil. The classes are kept small so that I can give appropriate help where necessary – as well as demonstrate both mediums.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Himalayan Lily in Pen & ink
Himalayan Lily in Pen & ink
‘Flowers from my Winter Garden’
‘Flowers from my Winter Garden’

Hedgerow produce botanical art workshop in Bosham.

Once again a good workshop (I think), with lovely people (I know). There were some struggles on the way and changes of subject once everything was put on the table and the garden checked out. There was even a change of medium too, giving unexpected results.

Here are some of the photos taken during the process and at the end.

Other results;

The chef, with a few fluid ingredients at the ready.
The chef, with a few fluid ingredients at the ready.

Happy students

And finally a picture taken last night by one of the students.

The lunar eclipse

The next workshop is pen and ink 30-31 October. Do get in touch if you want to take part.

Gloucestershire Society of Botanical Illustration workshops -2nd day

Whilst in Gloucester I had been asked to do a second one-day workshop with different members. I felt it was as successful as the first day and here are the results for you to see. You will notice that in fact two of the students came for a second day and continued with their pictures.

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Watch this space for the results of the ‘Fruit & Veg; strawberries & cream’ workshop happening this Friday and Saturday in Bosham.