20th Anniversary Celebration



On 15th September 2019 members were invited together with founder and past members to celebrate the society’s 20th Anniversary. Coffee and biscuits were served on arrival. Members had been invited to bring along paintings which made a marvellous display. Jeni Neale had searched the archives and printed off events from each year of the society and together with folders of information there was a lot to browse through.

One of the founder members Jane Edwards gave a short history of the society which was very informative especially for new members. Our invited speaker Lucy Smith, one of the botanical artists based at Kew, gave a talk on her research entitled ‘Walter, Waterlilies and Waders – The Victoria Waterlily Project’. Lucy started with a brief history of Walter Hood Fitch and his collaboration with William Hooker. Walter created four lithographic plates of Victoria Regis in 1851. There are two species in the genus Victoria amazonica and Victoria cruziana. Three plants from the seeds of V.amazonica had been grown and one was sent to Chatsworth, another to Syon House and the third kept at Kew.. The plant at Chatsworth was the first to flower and it was cut and taken to Queen Victoria and named for her.

A 2014 exhibition at Kew inspired Lucy’s project and she aims to document the species in detail. We heard how Lucy had to get permission to stay in the glass houses after closing time as the flower opens in the evenings and a gardener must be present to cut the flower. Lucy photographs the flower ( wearing waders) and makes detailed drawings. Lucy has made detailed drawings of both species, buds, flowers, dissected flowers and leaves. We admired the amount of detail that she has already recorded and she has even been to Denver Botanic Gardens to document a plant they have there.

Following the talk a buffet lunch was served followed by cutting of the cake by our Chair Moira Ashby. This was a lovely day to remember.


Courses, Exhibition and a Celebration

  • Jeni Neale Botanical Art Workshops– all have to be booked in advance with the venue.
  • Saturday 31st August ‘Paint the border’ Winterbourne House and Gardens. www.winterbourne.org.uk / 0121 414 3003
  • Wednesday 4th October ‘Botanical Painting’ – Westhope College, Shropshire. www.westhope.org.uk / 01584 861293
  • Saturday 23rd November ‘Botanical Christmas Cards’ Winterbourne House and Gardens (as above to book)
  • Thursday 21st November ‘Botanical Christmas Cards’ Compton Verney Art Gallery. Phone 01926 645 500 or Email-info@comptonverney.org.uk

It is always worth looking at other web sites – unfortunately most of these courses are in London with the added cost of travel or overnight accommodation.

  • Kew – www.adulted@kew.org – September courses ‘Pen and Ink leaves’ and Drawing Trees, October ‘Painting on Vellum’ and Coloured Pencil Drawing
  • Princes Trust – psta.org.uk – Short courses and lectures . Jess Shepherd ‘Botanical Painting and Taxonomy 23-27th September.
  • Linnean Society – linnean.org – 8th October ‘Drawing Nature: Accuracy, Proportion and Scale’, and 19th September ‘Drawing a Nature Collection’ evening 18.00 – 20.00

Nature in Art – www.natureinart.org.uk – Situated at Twigworth in Gloucestershire has courses throughout the year.

Exhibition – Waddesdon Manor, ‘Brought to Life – Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered’ a collection of his paintings including flowers, fruit. feathers and eggs. A National Trust property the exhibition is on until 20th October.

Celebration – On 15th September the society will be celebrating our 20th Anniversary. We have  a lecture by Lucy Smith followed by a buffet lunch, and we will have archive material on display as well as work by our members. This event is by invitation only.

12th October – We will be participating at Open  Studios at Stirchley Baths Community Center, there will be cards, prints and original paintings for sale as well as a display of work. The society will also have a stand at ‘Art Materials Live’ at the NEC from 31st October to 3rd November 2019


July 2019 meeting and Book Review

A change for our meeting on 21st July, two mini workshops by members. The morning was led by Diane who showed us a way of using spare pieces or cut off pieces of our watercolour and cartridge paper and also a way of utilising the cardboard backs of our pads to make mini workbooks. In the afternoon Jennifer gave a brief history of the use of gold leaf in art and then showed a more modern way to use gold leaf as a background. This method can also be used with other imitation metals. The images used included a butterfly, strawberry, fuchsia flower, poppy seedhead and fig (on vellum). It can also be used as a  highlight or for letters.

Book Review – RHS Botanical Illustration – The Gold Medal Winners. Author Charlotte Brookes

This book begins with a historical introduction from the commissioning of the first drawings by William Hooker in 1806 (the RHS then known as The Horticultural Society of London) to the present day. The Lindley Collection now numbers 30,000 drawings and paintings ranging in date from the early seventeenth century. In the late 1980’s there was a move to aquire new paintings and by 2000 it had been established that the library would acquire botanical art of Gold Medal standard and 1000 new pieces have been obtained.

An RHS Gold Medal is a highly prestigious award which people from all over the world strive to obtain. This book documents the work of 60 gold medal winning artists (more than one painting for some) Each has a mini biography of the artist and many are accompanied by information on the production of the painting.

Eleni McLoughlin retires

Eleni’s last session teaching on the ‘Aspects’ Course was on June 9th 2019. Eleni was presented with a beautiful Bromeliad plant to mark the occasion and to say thank you for all her amazing teaching of coloured pencils over the past 8 or more years.

Eleni specialises in coloured pencil and pen and ink, and has demonstrated stippling to past students. She has illustrated books on the endemic flora of Cyprus, her work has been published in at least five botanical reference books. Eleni was a founder member of the BSBA and also a member of the UK Coloured Pencil Society and her paintings have received medals. We wish her well in her retirement.

Success at the SBA Exhibition

The Society of Botanical Artists Exhibition – Plantae – at the Mall Gallery at the beginning of June was excellent. We are pleased to send congratulations to Yvonne Barbara Gemmell who  won the award for graphite work which was donated by Strathmore Artists Papers. The work was Lichen Branches. (Pictured here)

Also paintings by Barbara Gemmell, Jeni Neale and Celia Scottow were sold at the exhibition. (If there were any more successes please let us know.)

Today’s meeting on 16th June was a painting day and although attended by a only a few we were able to get on with our projects. Diane Taylor told us about the workshop that she held at Warwick University on the 15th. After a short walk around the nature trail they were inside where Diane had the attendees doing tonal work with an HB pencil and then tackling a leaf. Well done Diane.

Next month we have two mini workshops for members to attend or watch or do your own thing.