Gloucestershire Society of Botanical Illustration workshops

What a lovely group of botanical artists – so welcoming.

I was invited to have a one- day workshop with the Gloucestershire Society of Botanical Illustration (GSBI), using pen and ink. I of course said yes as I had heard that the group are very active with a love for botanical art and illustration.

Apparently, as soon as I agreed to this and it was announced in the group, all the places were filled with an additional waiting list. Further discussions and a second workshopday was agreed. That will be tomorrow.

Normally I do this workshop over two-three days as time is also spent on composition and drawing. This one was purely to teach technique although in reality further advice in the field of botanical art is always given.

I know from feedback I get that people reading my blogs are always interested in the workshop results. Here are today’s group. Rather good don’t you think?

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The other side of being an artist

This is the time of year for a botanical artist, in the UK,  when there are the most exhibitions and opportunities to promote ones work. You only need to see the list of dates and places on my ‘Exhibitions’ page to see all the occasions for which I need to prepare my work.

I love painting with watercolour and coloured pencil, or drawing with graphite or pen and ink. Many of my subjects are at their most beautiful at this time of year, but this doesn’t always mean that they are at their most interesting. People starting out in botanical art are often surprised to find that there is something of interest all year round.

I don’t love having to prepare my work for exhibitions! The reason for this is that it takes me away from doing what I do best and enjoy most – creating the actual artwork. But it has to be done.

For the last week I have not done any real painting as I have been preparing what I have done to exhibit. I try to keep on top of preparing each painting for printing as I finish that painting and rarely allow myself a backlog of more than two. This alone can take about two full days for each picture, where I use Photoshop to match the colours as closely as possible to the painting.

Luckily I haven’t had to do any colour matching on the pictures that I have been framing or mounting this week, as I had done it previously. But I do have some small pictures that will soon have to be done.

I got into the mounting and framing mode a week ago when my husband, Robin, needed to prepare some of his work for an exhibition. He did most of the work himself and I just helped him. After all, he does an awful lot in supporting me at my exhibitions and shows. So I just carried on from his framing to my framing.

The large table used for classes and workshops comes in very useful when mounting and framing artwork – but it’s never large enough!

The working table - at work
The working table – at work


You will hopefully recognise all but one of the pictures. The nightshade is one that I had intended to do as a series, but other subjects became very interesting!

'Young or old and still spiky'; Acanthus.
‘Young or old and still spiky’; Acanthus.
Daffodil; 51 shades of grey.
Daffodil; 51 shades of grey.
'Fatal attraction' ; Dipladenia and 'Solanum x dulcamara'; Bittersweet nightshade.
‘Fatal attraction’ ; Dipladenia and ‘Solanum x dulcamera’; Bittersweet nightshade.


Before I forget, the hanging of the pictures at the SBA exhibition at Westminster Central Hall in London, seems better this year. the exhibition continues until this coming Sunday, so I hope you get a chance to see it. Five of my six Crab apple paintings in coloured pencil from my exhibit at the RHS last year, are hanging there. Although not mentioned in the SBA catalogue, the series won a Silver Gilt medal.







Happy New Year!

This is a rather delayed New Year greeting, but as soon as our Christmas Guests left I went down with a ‘large’. I think I am recovering!

The holiday period has not given me much time to paint, but I have now managed to finish off the Bear’s Britches in Pen and Ink. The only problem now is that I am looking for a suitable title. All the titles I have thought of so far seem only to be understood by me.

The Acanthus has quite a history in that it is well known and used a lot in Greek and Roman designs. It is a very stately and elegant plant. The one in our garden is very tall, and quite beautiful particularly as the flowers open down the stem. But get too near and it pricks you. Yes, it is an extremely prickly plant and certainly looks after itself. It is even more prickly in its dried state as I have been drawing it. Does this give anyone any ideas for a meaningful title?

Now I am in the process of marking more assignments and clearing up the shed to start another picture. I always have to go through this process. Once a picture is finished, the shed has to be cleared of all the debris accumulated from the making of it, so that I can start off with new thoughts and feelings about the next picture. I know what it is going to be, but first out with the old!

It is very fitting isn’t it? Out with the old year and artwork and in with 2015 and a new picture and its challenges.

Detail from the initial sketch
Detail from the initial sketch
The start of the initial sketch
The start of the initial sketch
The tracing
The tracing
Mummy, daddy and baby bears.
Mummy, daddy and baby bears.

Bosham craft trail and Palmengarten pictures!

As usual life is hectic, but once we got everything ready for the Bosham Crafts trail and pictures were hung, I could relax. That was 02:00 in the morning in Friday.

We had a very good trail and although this is the first time we have done it at this time of year, I was very pleased with the number of people who came to see us and of course what they took with them and left behind! I was even more pleased that very occasionally in between visitors, I was able to carry on with my Bear’s Britches(Acanthus).

I will show you a couple of pictures prior to visitors, but compare them with a couple of them at the end of this blog.





Now imagine the nice and cosy relaxed atmosphere of the last pictures and then imagine today!

About 160+ pictures came back from Palmengarten today, at the same time as students arrived, at the same time as other visitors arrived – including a policeman on duty!

All the pictures had to be checked off the van and into the house, then sorted. As did returning cards, books, banners and paperwork! What happened to my poor students unexpectedly up in the middle of this? The pictures were due to arrive yesterday! They were really lovely and understanding, as was my husband who had delayed his trip up to London today so he could help, as were my other visitors. But chaos reigned.

I am now sitting with a cup o tea and a cat trying to add to this blog. I am surrounded by this-




And left with this!



The first Monday of the Palmengarten exhibition

The van was returned to Portsmouth, but this time trains didn’t connect, so I followed Robin in the car. Our drive now only contains our car. The bedrooms are reclaimed, the mess has yet to be cleared up – until we get unsold pics back in a months time.

Up until close of play yesterday, 17 deposits have been made on botanical art pictures painted by SBA members and associate members. Although not necessarily photos of the pictures mentioned above, I am attaching some photos of pictures from the exhibition as they hang in the Palm House at Palmengarten.

Please enjoy.

Digitalis purpurea - watercolour - Gael Sellwood SBA
Digitalis purpurea – watercolour – Gael Sellwood SBA
Colchicum autumn ale - watercolour - Charlotte Linder SBA
Colchicum autumnale – watercolour – Charlotte Linder SBA
Lonicera periclymenum - pen & ink and coloured pencil - Rachel Munn SBA
Lonicera periclymenum – pen & ink and coloured pencil – Rachel Munn SBA
Fragaria x ananassa - watercolour- Yvonne Glennister Hammond SBA CPGFS
Fragaria x ananassa – watercolour- Yvonne Glennister Hammond SBA 




Second hanging day at Palmengarten Botanical Gardens, Frankfurt

I’m afraid that I don’t have a single picture to brighten up this blog today. I have been very busy as we have had many more botanical art pictures to hang than in the two previous times we (the SBA) exhibited with Palmengarten.

When the hanging team arrived at Palmengarten this morning, our men mentioned in yesterday’s blog, got stuck in with hanging more pictures. They have been absolutely amazing, even though it is not them who are SBA members but us ( the women mentioned yesterday). They are extremely supportive and what we would do without them I don’t know.

We spent the rest of the day hanging pictures, reorganising a few, straightening and labelling them. Tomorrow will be spent cleaning the glass so that they are fully presentable in all their glory.

I think this evening will be spent easing backs and feet for all of us. How we will do this is anyone’s guess, but our hotel is not far from the student area of the city, so please use your imagination.

To brighten up the page a little I will include another picture of the Bears britches painting.




Botanical art trip to Palmengarten, Frankfurt

It’s now Saturday at 23:00 and we are due to get up at 04:00 to drive to the Channel tunnel train leaving around 06:00. There is no wifi at the moment, so can’t even connect to get the pictures taken earlier today. However, as soon as a connection is made I will get this blog off. It’s amazing how dependent we have become on modern technology!

First thing this morning we were rushing around finding all sorts of extra equipment for hanging the SBA members pictures once we get that far. It was incredibly warm and felt like summer as I rushed thinly fled from house to shed (some call it a studio- but it’s a shed) and back again. Our journey to Kent was uneventful apart from the usual hold-up with road works.

Another SBA member had been the delivery point for most of the other half of exhibits and kindly offered us supper and a bed for the night once she had also helped with the reorganising and loading of her store of pictures.

She like I were amazed at the empty spaces we had once the collection was loaded onto the van. The van was packed fully. I’m glad that there weren’t more pictures.

Hopefully I can access the pictures I took today- tomorrow.




And the Bears Britches




SBA to Frankfurt Botanical gardens, Palmengarten

There has been little time to do the pen & ink drawing of the Bears Britches as I have been organising the co-ordinated exhibition between Palmengarten and the Society of Botanical Artists; or at least everything from the UK side of things. Additionally I have had to keep on top of marking assignments as the botanical art tutor for the London Art College.

So, the Bears britches has been done at stolen moments of time.

Last weekend however, The London Art College had their annual meeting of tutors just outside Bristol. It was a very nice break away from everything that had to be done, and being able to talk with the other tutors at the college. A very welcome recharge of batteries before the final Palmengarten onslaught.

The exhibition at Palmengarten starts with the official opening and private view next Thursday evening, 23 October. There will be 205 exhibits from SBA members around the world, from as far flung places as New Zealand, Japan the USA, France and of course the UK.

This is the third time that The Palmengarten Gardens and the SBA has liaised in this way. The first time was in 2010, then 2012 and now the largest exhibition will be this year. The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday 24 October until 23 November 2014 and I think will be well worth a visit.

Some of you may well have picked up from earlier blogs that I have been working on this, together with Sue another SBA member in Germany. It is thanks to her that the exhibition is happening in the first place, so our members have a lot to thank her for.

I intend to write a blog as the actual preparation is happening. I have received half of the exhibits in our home over the last few weeks. The remaining half have been collected in Kent. My husband Robin is collecting a van on Friday and with this we will make our way to Germany, collecting the rest of the pictures on the way, arriving on Sunday evening.

I will be glad once we are on our way as setting up is the fun bit – other people are then involved and the load will be shared rather than mostly on the shoulders of Sue and I.

The first couple of pictures are from our guest room. It will be lovely to have it cleared for a short while!



Now a couple pictures from the progression of the Bears britches.




Another Pen & Ink workshop

I thought that last Saturday was likely to be our last day of summer, so used the opportunity to go out with the kayaks in Chichester Harbour – the Bosham inlet. It was fantastic. But low and behold we got several more opportunities to go out in them. We would have gone again on Tuesday at high tide, but a lot of preparation needed to be done for the Pen & Ink workshop starting the next day. However, I did get what I think might be my last trip (without wet suits) in the kayak this year, on Wednesday evening after the workshop. It was lovely and warm and relaxing – 1st October.

So why did I need something warm and relaxing? The Pen and Ink workshop was only Wednesday and Thursday, therefore I had my work cut out to teach a new technique to a full house. As normal I encouraged people to choose more realistic challenges for themselves as they needed to draw their subject before branching out into the ink technique. It was a lovely group of people and luckily they took my advice – although I think some of them might have chosen something more difficult given the opportunity. But when doing a new technique, it is always much better to choose something simple, get a feeling for the technique and thus a good result.

At the end of the first day everyone had their first layer of ink on and was ready to take a break. By the time they came back on Thursday, nearly all were enthusiastic and they stormed ahead getting the results you see. I am glad to say that most were really encouraged by their results and are very determined to do some more pen and ink work in this style.

Serious work on the big table.
Serious work on the big table.
Serious work on the two small tables
Serious work on the two small tables
Chief cook and bottle washer in the background
Chief cook and bottle washer in the background
This is meant to be a serious matter!
This is meant to be a serious matter!
Back to the serious work
Back to the serious work

And so the results:

It was a seed head of some description, but we are not sure from what.
It was a seed head of some description, but we are not sure from what.
Dried Poppy seed heads
Dried Poppy seed heads
A Magnolia fruit case
A Magnolia fruit case
Himalayan Lily seed case
Himalayan Lily seed case
Horse Chestnut - or conker before getting bashed!
Horse Chestnut – or conker before getting bashed!
Rose hip quicky
Rose hip quicky
Pine cone. How would we manage without Fibonacci?
Pine cone. How would we manage without Fibonacci?
Hydragea quickey
Hydragea quickey
Dried Teasle
Dried Teasle
Dried up Pineapple top. Notice the intriguing technique used here. I would like to see more of this.
Dried up Pineapple top. Notice the intriguing technique used here. I would like to see more of this.