Prep Tuesday before travel to Pittsburgh

I had my normal botanical art class this morning, although it was rather slimmed down. One person was moving house, another had swapped dates and another was on holiday. But then I will be on holiday next week too.

After the class finished I did a whole lot of sorting in preparation for Saturday, after which I cut a small Oak branch with large Acorns. I decided to take a break from the crabapples in coloured pencil and practice the pen and ink technique learnt on the Sarah Simblet course. So far not so good as the ink I had was not very good quality. Mind you, bad workmen blame their tools!

Here is a picture of the actual oak branch. If the small painting works out, I will post this at a later date.


This evening we had bible study so we now have a good basis for taking our break in America.

This is the Oak branch so far! Comments please.


Busy, busy – one!

The Antonia Rose
The Antonia Rose

Where to begin?

Since I came home after the fantastic course with Sarah Simblet I have been catching up in between family visits.

Some of our children stayed on and off with us throughout June and will be returning next week with other members of the family. All in all we will be eleven of us. They will be keeping out of my hair until Monday as I have a three-day workshop this coming weekend.

This workshop is well supported and the topic will be ‘Summer fruits’. However several of those taking part will be painting Roses. I suppose this is a form of lateral thinking. I had a think about any fruits that we have in the garden at the moment. There is in fact very little as we are between flushes of the usual varieties. The Raspberries and Strawberries are finished until a new lot arrive and it is too early for Blackberries, although they are now beginning to turn a beautiful black.

Normally Cobnuts look really beautiful to paint at this time of year with their curly green skirts and pixie hats. There isn’t a single one on our tree this year. The Rowan tree has a lot of fruit on it and it is ripening fast. The apples are still very small and of all the crab apple trees in the garden there is only one that is showing any hint of warmth in colour. Actually, thank goodness for that as I have been doing so many other things other than continuing the Crab apple series of paintings recently.

One of my students who will be painting roses during this coming workshop, will be continuing a picture she has been doing for the last three weeks. She has had several days with one-to-one tuition as the subject is very special. Her father was a Nurseryman and developed a rose which he named Antonia – the name of his first grandchild. As far as they are aware there are only three examples of the rose left and this is the reason she wanted to paint it. Not only that, she is using coloured pencil.

To demonstrate various relevant techniques to aid my student, I started painting the rose myself and have decided to use it as a step-by-step tutorial.

I don’t think that I have mentioned before that I am the Botanical Art Tutor for the London Art College. It is a very good organisation who provide art courses in various mediums and with many topics via the Internet or per correspondence. My predecessor wrote a fair amount of the course as it stands today, but it focuses on watercolour as well as a little graphite and pen&ink. I am now in the process of writing some tutorials for coloured pencil botanical artists to add to what is there already. Therefore in time we will have very good tuition to help botanical artists with their watercolour and coloured pencil studies.

The above

is my finished Antonia Rose which I will be using for the step-by-step studies with the London Art College. I hope you like it.

Sarah Simblet course

I came back nearly a week ago from a weeks course at the Ruskin School of Drawing with Sarah Simblet as the tutor. I had an amazing week away.

The course was Botanical drawing. Sarah has authored several art books, on drawing in general, anatomy for the artist, botany for the artist and is now working on a new book. She is a very good artist and also does a lot of research in the areas in which she chooses to teach. To cap it all, Sarah is a lovely person and very supportive of her students when struggling with new media.

The reason for going on the course was to draw in pen and ink. I have always been intimidated by this medium and therefore hoped that I would be less so once I had had a little expert tuition. Sarah constantly draws in black and white and in reality with her work you feel that you are looking at it in colour. Getting to that level of expertise would be something I would love to achieve, but it possibly won’t be in this lifetime.

Sarah got us to relinquish our feelings of control when drawing by using unusual implements. After this she encouraged us to build ourselves up again using the new medium (ink) and new implements (pen). It was exciting. I can’t show you pictures of the pulling down, but this is an example of learning to build up again. It is a plant I have never seen before – Molucella laevis. Very attractive. In fact whilst in Oxford I did see another painting of one.

We went to the Herbarium and were given a treat. All of Ferdinand Bauer’s work that went into the Flora Graeca was laid out for us. It was amazing. His sketch books and all his notes were there. He had a colour coding system that he used when doing his sketches in situ. He could spend years away from any studio and when he returned he used his notes to make his botanical paintings for the Florum. Therefore we were able to see his actual sketches, notes and final paintings before they were eventually published.

I made new friends on the course who are from around the world. Two I will be meeting again in a few weeks time at the opening of the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation Exhibition in Pittsburgh.

I am now coming down to earth and catching up on all I need to do. But  hopefully I will get my act together to keep the blog updated.

Thank you for reading this. I do recommend Sarah Simblet’s summer courses.

Molucella laevis 180713