Meeting the Norwegian Botanical art holiday group

At last we have arrived. I met up with seven students later on this afternoon. Unfortunately the eighth student was unable to come as planned and will be missed.

People haven’t come all the way to Norway only to have a holiday, but they have also come because of the workshop in botanical art. The weather for them is improving and that helps. Each of the ‘foreign’ students has commented on the beauty of Åsgårdstrand and the surrounding countryside, so I hope they will become almost as fond of Norway as I am.

During the day I have selected potential subjects from a nearby garden centre, but best of all are the plants collected in Telemark for the course. Hopefully you will see a little of them during the week, but I am very grateful to the lady who collected them for us. Takk skal du har Dagny!

These are a couple of pictures taken from my bedroom at 22:30 this evening. Sorry they are slightly unclear, I obviously didn’t keep still enough.



Culmination of the botanical art Rose workshop

Three lovely days with lovely people. And what’s more there was improvement and each grew in confidence about their abilities. Some used watercolour and others coloured pencil.

One person hadn’t been on one of the workshops before and in fact hadn’t used the medium for a number of years, or even done any botanical painting. I was impressed about how quickly the technique was picked up and the result was very good.

The roses didn’t always behave as intended. We had some cloud and a lot of sun. And, blow me down but the flowers opened up and followed the sun! We drowned them in a bucket of water each night, but there was one sort that didn’t even benefit too much from that. One rose was picked on the first day and we noticed that there was only one tight bud left that was unlikely to open up until the end of the week!

That night the one rose disintegrated entirely! The student painting it felt a little despondent, but we looked up the garden and there, in front of us was an absolutely splendid open bud. The petals were rich and velvety and we couldn’t believe our eyes. The flower lasted that day and long enough for her to complete it. Luckily, there were plenty of leaves available.


Pictures from the workshop:


Botanical art workshop
Botanical art workshop
A good start and the perfume was heavenly
Three are definitely not a crowd!
Three are definitely not a crowd!
A hard earned picture using two roses. What a result!
A hard earned picture using two roses. What a result!
Rose Deep Secret - and very tired. Goodnight!
Rose Deep Secret – and very tired. Goodnight!
But they wanted to keep on going!
But they wanted to keep on going!
Dainty Bess. My favourite rose.
Dainty Bess. My favourite rose.

Botanical art workshop starting tomorrow

Tomorrow morning I will be having another botanical art workshop. The subject is roses.

People often think it is very difficult to paint beautiful roses, but think about how the petals are attached in the flower head. Use that knowledge to create a proper line drawing and tonal drawing, then add the colour.

I am glad to say that as the weather has been a little cooler the last few days – and cloudy, there are still quite a few roses of differing levels of difficulty ready to be plucked to have their portraits drawn. It will be interesting to see which roses the students will choose. Watch this space to see the progression of some of the work.

Today I have spent most of the day on work in relation to the SBA exhibition in Palmengarten, Frankfurt in October. There is a lot of preparation in organising the collection and exhibiting of work from across the whole of the UK, Ireland, USA, New Zealand, France, Germany and Japan at Palmengarten. But it will be a fantastic exhibition with so many SBA members taking part.

I had hoped, to finish the Irises painting in coloured pencil yesterday, but think I have completed it today. I don’t feel the colours come out so well from a photograph, but will be better and easier to show online once I get time to match them on Photoshop.


Botanical art workshop today – demo tomorrow.

The last day of this workshop was today. The sun shone for most of the say and obviously affected positively everyone in the room.

The workshop went well. The students seemed to be satisfied with both some of the things they had learnt, as well as what they achieved. To top it all we had a lot of fun. There seemed to be longish periods of almost silence, interspersed with hilarity.

A good workshop from the point of view of the tutor (me), but in the end everything depends on what the students got out of it.

Have a look at some of the results.




The next workshop is Tuesday 17th until Thursday 19th June and is all about beautiful roses. How difficult can they be? Not so difficult once you are given tips in what to look for in your subject; and how to translate this onto your paper. Do get in touch if you can join me.

But tomorrow I will be demonstrating at the Oxmarket Art Centre, for the Society of Floral Painters (SFP). This time I will be demonstrating watercolour.

Over the last three days whilst discussing composition and drawing, I started off my composition as an example for the students today and for the demo tomorrow. My next picture has taken three evenings to draw. It is a Mandeville plant. It is quite a complex composition because of the growing habit of the plant – which needs to be shown.

My students from the last few days all wanted to come back to Chichester to see the demo, but unfortunately live too far away to be able to drop in. I promised that I would use the blog to show them how the picture develops.

These are the the first two photos, but I am not sure whether you will see clearly enough the drawing in the first one. The second shot is the tonal under painting of a dying flower.

Hopefully one of the many buds will open tomorrow so that I can do one of the spectacular flowers.

Come and see the demo at the Oxmarket, Chichester 11:00 – 16:30.



Open studios and open invite

Very briefly I will mention the workshop at Goodnestone Park Gardens. As always they are lovely hosts and we had a large airy room to do the workshop.

The workshop went well and again there were some lovely students who worked really hard. I noticed that by the end of the first day they wondered what their results would be like, but at the end of the two days all were happy with their work and felt they had learnt something new.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos to embellish this page, so you will have to imagine deep red Peonies, clematis and Wisteria. None of which are simple plants.

At the moment there is a mess all round me. This weekend we are taking part in the Chichester Art trail. Essentially, it is open studios. Here in Bosham there is quite an enclave of artists, so many people choose to spend one day in this area. Bosham is a lovely place anyway and we do have a lot of visitors generally. This is an extra good excuse to visit the area.

As usual we are setting up a gallery in the house, but I will also be working in the studio. This usually attracts many questions and people who were not initially interested in botanical art, have succumbed. I don’t think I have talked them into the ground, but many have obviously become interested in a subject they knew little about before.

Anyway, I don’t think you want any pictures of this mess until it’s been sorted out and pictures hung where they are meant to be. If you have the opportunity, I do hope you will plan a trip to Bosham either this weekend (which includes the Monday bank holiday) , and next Saturday and Sunday, it will be 10:30-17:30 each day.

In the village there will be loads of signs and balloons marking the spot. I am number 14, so you just need to follow the signs.

See you here!

Botanical Art workshop

Now I am back into the swing of things with a two- day botanical art workshop. The title was based on pictures I took at this time last year; spring bulbs! Bad mistake. Most spring bulbs are finished now.

I trawled through the local garden centre and found some worn out tulips, fading well in their pots, and some Fritillary. I therefore bought the latter, and some Osteospermum. One student found some Lily of the Valley and another brought some more Fritillary from the garden. Challenges galore.

I think that the greatest challenge was the pattern on the Fritillary and this was tried both in watercolour and coloured pencil. Thank goodness for a little knowledge about Fibonacci. It certainly helps in knowing about the spiral when planning the pattern.

For those who might not know, Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician and he worked out the mathematical process behind the spiral which we basically find in nature and in good design. For example, the spiral of segments in a pineapple and it’s leaves, a pine cone, the centre of a sunflower – and of course the pattern on a Fritillary petal.

Hopefully I will be back with some pictures from the workshop tomorrow. Things look promising, but I have students who have not painted since they were at school, and those who are very experienced. Believe it or not, it is those with experience who feel most challenged as it is generally very specific problems that they want to overcome.

I think it fitting that I show you Diane Sutherland’s exhibit for the RHS. She painted these Fritillary on vellum. In fact, the largest piece of vellum in this series is from Rory McEwen’s vellum left to the Hunt Institute of Botanical Art in Pittsburgh.


Monday after the RHS botanical art exhibition

I expect that my day has been very similar to the other artists who took part in the RHS exhibition. Beginning to clear up after our last massive input into the exhibition.

For me, I have a lot of paperwork to clear up and finish off. But the shed looks an absolute mess. And, tomorrow I am starting a two- day workshop. I know that some will be using watercolour and some coloured pencils. It will be lovely to get into it again.

We have re-arranged the conservatory cum sitting room so that the work table is as big as possible. Two extra tables are brought up to the house from the shed and everything is in place for arrivals tomorrow. We also ordered good weather with good light, so what more do we want? Good humour!

What you really want to see are some more pictures from the exhibition. I know that some of the same or similar ones will be found in other places on the net too, but I don’t think you will see one of these. It is of all the artists who took part in the RHS exhibition this year. As I have already said , they are. Lovely lot of people.

The second picture is of Isik Guner. She is a fantastic botanical artist and also a very bubbly person. The picture she is standing beside is the one that was best in show. But each of her pictures were very beautifully done.




From Sketching to drawing – learn to draw botanical images workshop.

Today was the last day of the workshop concentrating on sketching and drawing skills – which is a necessity when creating botanical art images.

It was again a super workshop; as regards the participants. My husband always says that such lovely people join us for the workshops. They seemed very interested and commented upon how well they had progressed over the three days.

The first day was used in sketching and drawing simple shapes, from apples, bananas, grapes and cups. In fact it seemed that the forms we are most used to were the most difficult – the upside down cup caused the most problem.



I have a very simple way of teaching the use of perspective in botanical art, so placing elements in space seemed less of an issue.

The second day was spent on working up a daffodil from sketch, through tonal drawing, to completed graphite picture . At least, the completed graphite picture was not done until today.

I deliberately chose daffodils as this gave a greater challenge than many simple flowers. The gardens are full of them too, so it all made sense.


This afternoon, I was told that they hadn’t thought that they would be able to complete the workshop with a reasonable result. In fact, they and I were thrilled with the results. What do you think?



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, or wait for the next blog.