Friday, 24 April 2015

Day 10 and 11, Camellia and Magnolia Sketches, Exhibitions and more

It's been a very hectic week with no time for very much else at all! Everything seems to happen at this time of start to bloom in abundance but also the exhibitions calender is pretty full. So I only had time this week for a couple 15 minute sketches.... I had intended to sketch more while away but it just didn't happen! this is the sum total of the pretty poor effort. As you will see these drawings are rough....almost scribbles but this is usually how I work out my drawings.
It's not pretty or tidy! 15 minute drawing of a Camellia. the flower was 'taken' from a friends garden on the way home. This is how I start most drawings. Pencil first to work out the angles and basic shapes. I draw almost as though all parts are it's a sort of skeleton drawing. There are usually so many lines that it's necessary to draw over it with a fine liner, If I was drawing to create a new composition for a painting or tonal drawing,  I would probably produce 4 or 5 similar drawings in order to find the best arrangement of leaves and flowers etc. then decide what to keep and what not to keep. This work is in the Stillman & Birn Sketchbook. 

Day 11. Under 15 mins, Magnolia Bud drawn with a very blunt 5B pencil. Collected from Chatsworth house, an incredible garden and house....must go back soon!

 So what else has been happening? ......
The answer is LOTS! Last week brought a few nice surprises. I attended the SBA annual exhibition opening on Thursday 16th, where I currently have two paintings on show. I arrived late for the opening (as usual), to find out that I'd been highly commended for the new Strathmore paper award for composition, and will be receiving a book of their paper as a prize, which is great! Slightly ironic really because the work was on vellum but never having tried their paper I'm looking forward to giving it a go.... oh I also got a gift of book of paper from Saunders Waterford for trialling their paper too! ...more about that another time. I stayed over in London with my daughter and we visited the Saatchi, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, to view the Dumas exhibition.....oh and a Cocktail bar!

Society of Botanical Artists annual Exhibition at Westminster Central Halls, London
 Between exhibitions I took my daughter home to Lancaster and then took a trip to Chatsworth House. I even went down a cave on route! Chatsworth is amazing and I need to go back asap! Might write another post about it at some point.
Chatsworth....a very grand house and garden!.....
....But I managed to find a shed full of gorgeous onions!

I was very tempted to 'borrow' these ...but even my bag isn't big enough for this lot!

And some amazing and big leaf skeletons from under the Magnolia tree....definitely a subject for vellum.
Arriving home on Monday I made a brief trip to the printers, 'The Artists Print Room', in Bridgenorth to sort out the final proofs. Vellum is not so easy to replicate in print but I was really happy with these. I decided to have them printed on Bamboo archival paper, that's a new one to me! so though I'd try it. Here they are:
Decided to keep the background marks on the vellum as part of the print.... I figured they were part of the work, not sure if it was the right thing to do! This is my painting on Rory McEwen's vellum so I won't be parting with the original.

The butterflies are x1.5 in size which gives the work more impact and shows off the colours and detail.
Not sure why I chose this one....just because I like leaf skeletons and lichens I guess

 I was back in London again on Wednesday, stewarding for the SBA exhibition and happened to open the Society leaflet whilst taking a coffee break and discovered that they had chosen my Primula for inside the leaflet, so again that was another surprise.
Primula painting on vellum, from 2010. found while taking a tea break at the SBA exhibition
  The SBA exhibition is excellent this year and the standard just keeps going up! I spoke with RHS judge and artist Gillian Barlow, who dropped in late in the day and was very complementary about this years show and also commented on the improved hanging of work this year too.
The student diploma work is frighteningly good and is obviously having an impact on the level of new work being produced! I also noticed that there seems to be a lot of artists painting in large format, which has no doubt has been influenced by artists such as Rosie Sanders. So it's all good and Botanical painting is definitely continuing to appeal to people.
A fantastic exhibition!....hopefully you can see the names of those exhibiting here.
After a day stewarding I attended the private view of Shirley Sherwood exhibition at the Johnathon Cooper, Park Walk Gallery. The exhibition is of new works and a celebration marking 25 years of Dr Sherwood's collection.  I was very fortunate to meet some wonderful artists both exhibiting and viewing. It was particularly lovely to meet Coral Guest and Beverly Allen, having corresponded with both of them for some time. Beverly had invited me to take part in the Sydney Florilegium  Project a couple of years ago, this will take place next year. Her painting of a Gymea lily is stunning. Coral was invited by Dr Sherwood to speak about her Peony painting, which she undertook over a period of 9 years! The large painting titled ' The Phenology Cabinet of the Incandescent Petal' features flowers from her personal collection of Magenta coloured French heritage peonies. She explained how in the years when the weather had damaged the plants she had painted the petals becuae the they had blown away. It was great to hear about her interest in the this flower and also of and of her recollections of visits to Kew since she was a small child aged just 6 years old! I also met Rosie Sanders, her paintings are absolutely stunning and so full of life and colour just like Rosie! She is currently undertaking a Painting a Day Challenge, which she started on Jan 1st and will last the whole year...... It's a remarkable and honest journey, which is well worth following.

After seeing so much amazing work I have to admit feeling a tad overwhelmed but also inspired to work. So it's back to my little flat, pencils and paints at the ready. This huge tube arrived from William Cowleys on Thursday, so that rounded off a pretty full and exciting week....should keep me busy for a while....but not allowed to open it until all other work is up to date!

A new skin from Cowleys awaits!


  1. Great post, crammed with goodies. I'll miss the RBS show but will try to get to Jonathan Cooper gallery...I've got a mere two weeks on the ground in UK so tough to do it all. Always love your work, your enthusiasm for same and am very fond on the WHEELBARROWS in pic above!

  2. Thank you Liz, enjoy your time in the UK