Saturday, 15 February 2014

New, new, new!

A good way to start a new year? Well, I think to get some new business cards designed and printed is a fab way to start. I had ran out after I showed my work at the Espacio Gallery's Natural Selection exhibition last year, and so it was most definitely time to order some more. I am glad I waited until 2014 though - it seems fitting to do something like this early on in the year. I am very lucky because my step dad is a designer - and a jolly good one he is too (even if I do say so myself) - so he can help me with this sort of thing. He designed my website. So anyway, with a bit of luck, and hoping that the Royal Mail isn't suffering too much with these floods, I might be getting a nice little parcel in the post this week! 

The design for the back of the card using the colours from my website
Other news? Well I have started my new painting of a rather bonkers lettuce. I am not sure which variety it is and need to write to Sainsbury's again for my usual rather ridiculous email. I am sure they think I am just as bonkers as the lettuce. They get a lot of emails from me asking about this sort of thing. If only they labelled them all, then it wouldn't be an issue. Sadly, bonkers lettuce came unwrapped and free (he cannot be controlled - he is a wild lettuce!!!) and in turn was unlabelled.

Cos meet Anon, Anon meet Cos... (Sorry for poor quality image, it was late at night)

So it appears that I am on a lettuce rampage. If I carry on, and don't get sick of them, I might even end up with a series. Now there's a first!

New Palatte!! I love it when this happens - no fluff in my paint yet.
This one is currently looking rather white at the moment! Don't you think paintings look dreadful when they first get going? Well yours might not, but mine most certainly do. All those weak washes and all that paper and nasty bits of pencil coming through. Ergh! This one is, quite frankly, a pain. Being so tricky and complicated structurally, my best bet was to get as much plotted out in the way of a line drawings as I could, but this has meant there is more pencil hanging about than I like to see, especially on something that is actually quite a lurid and bright green. So I am very much armed with a putty rubber as I put in the first washes. 

Anon. When working I try to do a bit at the top, a bit at the bottom, then a bit on the far right and a bit on the far left, so I get a sense of size and proportion.
I am not sure if you have noticed my painting style, but as with the coffee and Cos, I start with the darkest bits first, as this helps to define certain areas and gives me a reference point as to how dark 'is dark' (if you get my drift). It also means I can work out which greens are working and which are not as there is more room for error when you are painting with so much depth. Being a sketchbookaphobe, this is a rather important step in the process. My colour swatches are hidden in the dark bits and are left in my mind and on the edges of the palette. 

Close up on a section. This looks bluer than it actually is due to silly lens in night time conditions.
One other thing I like about working in this way is that by marking the paper very prominently in this way allows me to take a risk early on, which subsequently frees me up. I feel more confident after creating assertive, solid, dark patches and this helps me complete the rest of the piece. I hate that feeling when one has done a really lovely painting using light washes and the thought of making bits darker feels oneself with dread. 'What if I drop my brush?!' is the usual question of foreboding. Or there's the worry that, as I sometimes did, of making it too dark or using the wrong colour. It's not a great feeling, nor is it great when it actually happens. I get a bit 'precious' about my painting when I do the dark bits at the end, which is how I felt with Sally the Savoy and the Grapes.

So for now mon amigos, I am afraid for now I have turned to the dark side... 

Painting re-starts Monday!!!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Botanical Art in the 21st Century is now open

Gallery 6 in The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art

The Main Gallery in The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art
Botanical Art in the 21st Century is a celebration of the worldwide renaissance in botanical art today. The exhibition features some recently acquired works in the Shirley Sherwood Collection and demonstrates both traditional and new techniques in painting and drawing. From the show, we get to see very clearly how artists are ever changing the way they approach their subjects, from painting styles to compositional alterations. There are several very large pieces in the main gallery and there is a wide array of media. The diversity present in the gallery spaces is quite surprising and spectacularly interesting. If you want to read more about the story of this exhibition, then I can strongly recommend a visit to Coral Guest's blog. She has two of her stunning works on display and has eloquently written about the content of this exhibition.

Angela Maria Russo's Musa sp
I, myself, have several personal favourites in the show, some of which I have mentioned before when they've been shown in previous exhibitions, such as with Coral Guest's work, but there are some new ones that I have rather taken a fancy to. 

Annie Hughes' Camellia japonica 'Elegance Champagne'
'Zucca' by Marzio Tamer went a little viral with the online botanical art groups after Galleria Salmon posted a picture of it on it's facebook page. It is an amazing painting, so atmospheric and calming. I think Rory McEwen would have liked it as it has that ethereal and delicate quality - it's a moment captured in time.  Marzio's piece has rather sweetly been put in it's own show case as the frame has no glazing, so it's a bit vulnerable.

My other favourites are Annie Hughes' massive Camellia japonica 'Elegance Champagne' flower, which I like for it's technical achievements. I personally find it very hard to paint white flowers, let alone one this big, with this many petals using a wet on wet technique - it's sheer brilliance. On a technical achievement level I also find Kimiyo Maruyama's Pinuns palustris rather mind boggling. How on earth have all those needles been painted?!

A close up on Kimiyo Maruyama's Pinus palustris
Dasha Formicheva's triptych of Biarum angustatum inflorescences
Phansakdi Chakkaphak, Tree Jasmine

Diana McElwain, Prayer Plant

I like the bold composition of Angela Maria Russo's Musa sp. (top of page) and the way Phansakdi Chakkaphak has captured the bright sunlight in his Tree Jasmine. I am also rather taken with Dasha Formicheva's triptych of Biarum angustatum inflorescences. They seem to dance around the page and have been painted with an admirable looseness which is rather lovely to see in contrast to the tighter and more precise around the gallery, such as ... which I adore! Lastly, I love the green's in Diana McElwain's Prayer Plant leaves, because I do like a bit of green and Catherine Nicolson's large pen and ink drawings because I love all pen and ink work.

As you make your way round Botanical Art in the 21st Century you'll probably soon see that the show is a modification of an exhibition that was mounted in Pisa last year, in the Museo della Grafica. This show was curated by Professor Lucia Tomasi Tongiorgi and Professor Alessandro Tosi and was called Botanical Art into the Third Millennium and came with a catalogue that was in English and Italian. Dr. Sherwood has included a selection of Italian works, some of which were painted specially for the Pisa show.

Gionata Alfiera's beautiful 
'Studio di tepali di Hippeastrum'

Catherine Nicolson's fabulous large pen and ink works

Anyway, if you are in the area do pop in, it's well worth it, and of course we have Barbara Oozeerally's beautiful Magnolia's on show too!

Close up of Gionata Alfiera's 
'Studio di tepali di Hippeastrum'

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Popping up in the London RHS show April 2014

On Saturday a remarkable thing happened - I opened an email.

This was no ordinary email... This email was from the RHS...

They had written to ask me to create a mini pop-up studio for the London Orchid and Botanical Art Show this Spring!

I was so pleased! Absolutely chuffed to bits. It's like receiving the royal seal of approval with the added bonus that I will be doing what I love to do the most - interacting with the visitors and promoting botanical art and the work that we all do.

So, drum roll please... (I have wanted to be able to type this paragraph for some time):

I can now announce that I will be exhibiting some of my work in the RHS London Orchid and Botanical Art Show in Vincent Square on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 April 2014. The pop-up studio will feature me and my paints, paper and pencils (not sure if I can bring in Caroline in her plant form and Drew) and probably a whole load of leafy goodness. I will be selling prints of my work and should hopefully have some postcards for sale then too.

I will be on hand to answer your questions all day whilst demonstrating how I do my work. My painting hours will be from 10am-5pm on both Friday and Saturday and I am very much looking forward to meeting you all. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Art of Botanical Pictures' by botanical art dealer Crispian Riley-Smith

There's a talk on 'The Art of Botanical Pictures' by the botanical art dealer Crispian Riley-Smith at the 'Works on Paper Art Fair', Science Museum, Friday at 3pm. I am going to try and go to it after my meeting with the the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society... What a packed out Friday!

 The Science Museum, London
Friday 7th February 2014

Carl Ulke (1791 - 1882)
A Lily Pond with Figures Boating and Mountains in the Distance on River Berbice, Guyana
Graphite, watercolour, pen and ink framing lines
19.3 x 30.5 cm

Find out more here:

and here:

Exhibition in the Gallery at Nymans - Drawn from Nature

From March 8th until 1st June 2014 there will be an exhibition of botanical art at Nymans, the National Trust property and garden near Haywards Heath in West Sussex Some of the artists whose work will be on show are Alison Brown, Gillian Barlow, Jill Coombs, Joanna Craig-McFeely, Peggy Dawe, Wendy Page and Judith Hillelson.  Nymans is a fabulous place to visit and I'm sure the exhibition will be brilliant. I think it's well worth a visit and your support would be much appreciated.

 Drawn from Nature
 March 8th until 1st June 2014