Sunday 25 May 2014

'Botanica' Exhibition in Sydney

The Friday night opening of the annual 'Botanica' exhibition at the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens was a great success.

It was the best 'Botanica' I have seen presented, for many reasons. The selection of paintings was extremely well balanced, although paintings by single artists I feel should be limited, to allow for others artists who are equally talented, to exhibit their works. 

The exhibition was beautifully curated by Judy Dunstan for the first time, and I look forward to seeing her in this role again next year. 

Another interesting and profound element was that there were no extravagently overpriced paintings. Most well priced paintings will sell, but with some artists insisting in previous years of pricing themselves out of the market, I think this point has hit home.

The general public is not aware of the 'names' in botanical art, and with so many wonderfully talented artists out there, it would be difficult to choose one artist over another. They are all extraordinary in their own right.

This is a wonderful exhibition, and I am sure it will sell extremely well. I look forward to visiting again at least twice (or more) as there is so much to take in. If you are going along, take note of the framing as well, which forms part of the overall presentation of the painting, and can 'make or break' some work.


With my painting of the Banksia menziesii and Banksia prionotes

Thursday 22 May 2014

Fiji Holiday Sketching

This was my eight year teaching botanical art and holiday sketching workshops at Daku Resort in Savusavu, Fiji. The place is such a hidden treasure, totally uncommercial and it is a place where time has stood still.
On this trip I detected signs of Progress, which is not always a bad thing. Many new roads were being made, and road upgrades had also been done, making it a much easier trip from Savusavu to Labasa (the capital) which is 1-1/2 hours across the island. Previously at least half the road was dirt and rocks and  extremely rough.
The new roads were the first indications of developing infrastructure. Perhaps Savusavu and the island of Vanua Levu will not be hidden treasures for much longer.
A sketch of a few of the bures nestled amongst the tropical rainsforest


This is the northern end of Savusavu town. Not much has changed, but I think the future will bring many changes.
The weather was superb, except for the last few days when the tropical rain came down with gusto. Not cold - just wet. I get the group participants out and about as weather permits so if it does rain, we have experienced as much as we can on the fine days.
Global warming has even come to the tropics with unseasonal weather. Even the dry seasons can produce torrential rain and very hot days. Years ago I would go at a certain time and know it would be fine and warm for the week. Past years this has not happened, so I am prepared for all eventualities.
Here are a few of the students work from the week. Botanical art is done in the mornings and sketching in the afternoons. I am always thrilled with what is produced for the week, It gives myself and the students themselves a great sense of satisfaction.
If they only take back one or two pertinent elements of knowledge it is worth it - but I am sure they all learned a lot.
Not everyone who joins me on my workshops is experienced. I take all skill levels, so some of the students had never done botanical art before. You would be amazed with the standard of work.
Will leave you with three of the paintings, and a general overview of the rest.

The paintings of Helen, Carole and Annie

The group's drawings and paintings for the week

If you would like to read my Holiday Sketching Newsletter, subscribe by emailing and I will send you my latest issue.

Australian State Floral Emblems

I have been so incredibly busy since my last blog. I had a strict deadline for six commission paintings of the Australian state floral emblems. These will go on a dinner set, placemats and other merchandise and will be available at Christmas.
At the same time I was doing these paintings, I visited Hobart - met with glorious weather. What a change from my previous trip in October last year where it was extremely cold, unbelievably windy and even snowing at Oatlands. I will be doing another 'Sketching Historic  Tasmania' tour and am in the planning stages. The last tour was a great success with so many historical places to visit and sketch.
Back to my botanical are some of the processes I used for the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha), which is the floral emblem for the Commonwealth of Australia.
The first stage was my line drawing which was submitted for approval. More leaves were requested.
The first wash
With my work, I am continually assessing. Thought this needed many more flowers as it had to stand out on a white plate. I was asked to paint them strong and bright.
No sooner had a finished one painting then had to immediately begin another. Half way through the commission, I also had another committment which took me away for another two weeks. Pleased to say the six paintings were finished on time.

The final painting