October 2019

On Sunday 20th October Simon Williams came to our meeting and gave a very instructive workshop on painting with gouache. This was a medium that few of us had tried for botanical work. Thank you Simon for the time spent coming around the room helping and advising everyone. It was an enjoyable day with some lovely work produced.

Our first venture participating in Birmingham Open Studios on 12th October at Stirchley Baths was very successful. We hung members art work around the walls of the cinema room, and set up a double row of tables down the centre with more paintings, prints and cards all of which were for sale. We felt it was a very successful event with good comments from our visitors who also purchased cards.

We will once again have a stand at the NEC from 31st October to 3rd November 2019 at the ‘Creative Crafts’ event.

Exhibition and Birmingham Open Studios 2019

Society members Yvonne Barbara Gemmell and Sandy Gough have had pictures accepted for the Lichfield 2Art competition. The theme is ‘Blowing in the Wind’ and the exhibition of the finalists work runs from Saturday 12th October to Sunday 20th October at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Breadmarket Street, Lichfield. Go along and have a look, Lichfield is also a wonderful shopping venue.

Y. Barbara Gemmell is participating in Birmingham open studios at her home in Selly Oak on the 5th and 6th October (See www.artsbrum.com for more details.) This society is also participating on Saturday 12th October at Stirchley Baths, Bourneville Lane. There will be cards, prints and original art work for sale plus demonstrations.

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.