Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sarah Simblet and The New Sylva - a video

Back in 2008 I did a drawing class with Sarah Simblet about Drawing Trees at the National Gallery. She talked about a major project she had embarked upon to draw trees.

Little did I realise at the time this would lead her to illustrating a new and revised version of a very old book about trees. The New Sylva - published this month - is an updated book about trees which takes as its starting point John Evelyn's Sylva (A Discourse of Forest Trees, and the Propagation of Timber in his Majesty's Dominions) published in 1664 - which was the world's first book about Forestry.

That wasn't illustrated - and this one is - with 200 new pen and ink drawings of more than 100 tree species.

Images from the book can be viewed on Facebook
The original book was for landed estates which grew trees. The new book is for everyone.

You can:




The events associated with the publication of The New Sylva are all located as one might expect at arboreta and botanical gardens

Monday, April 14, 2014

More Top Tips for winning an RHS Gold Medal for Botanical Art

Last year I wrote Ten Top Tips for winning an RHS Gold Medal for Botanical Art - which proved very popular with botanical artists around the world.  So this year I'm back with more Top Tips from this year's "crop" of Gold Medal Winners

Gold Medal winning Exhibit of Parasitic Plants in Situ with the Host Plant by Lynda de Wet
The painting second from left with the red spot was bought for the collection kept at the RHS Lindley Library 
Last year the tips highlighted were as follows

1. Only submit top notch work
2. Find a Helpful Grower
3. Never ever forget that the RHS is a Horticultural Society
4. Get the Botany right - know what to show and highlight
5. Practice to achieve top quality
6. Size your work to fit the Panels
7. Have a good team behind you
8. Take care with your presentation
9. Start very early!
10. You need many more business cards than you think possible!

This year we have some different ones. The quotations you will find in each section come from either the Guidance or the Regulations relating to the Royal Horticultural Society Botanical Art Show held every year in the Lindley Hall.

1. Be happy - do what you love


Işık Güner with her painting of Gunnera which won
Best Painting in RHS Botanical Art Show 2014
This one came from the winner of both a Gold Medal and Best Painting in the show Işık Güner.

She thinks artists can work really long hours on a project when they truly enjoy what they do. Having the right subject can make for a really relaxed and meditative time and really make you happy!

I have to say I'm very much in agreement with this. There has to be an emotional connection between subject, media and artist for an artist to achieve their best work. Plus when tackling a long complex project it's always best if you love your subject!

TIP #1: Truly enjoy what you do


2. Do not rush!


This one is the result of various comments from different people. Some of the exhibits had a long gestation period while artists collected all the material they needed BEFORE they settled down to paint.  They emphasised the real importance and positive impact of very thorough preparation.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

15 Top Tips for presenting work at an RHS Botanical Art Exhibition

There are two important aspects of artwork in the RHS Botanical Art Exhibition - the artwork and its presentation. The latter is very important - as discussed below.

Poor presentation will certainly lose you marks and downgrade the level of medal that might be achieved by the paintings exhibited.

So here are 15 top tips culled from the Gold Medal winning exhibitors this year (and in previous years).

[Note: I've spent the last two days at the RHS Botanical Art Show in the Lindley Hall in Westminster. This is the first of my blog posts about this show.  I've got at least two more planned this coming week relating to More Top Tips for winning an RHS Gold Medal and interviews with all six RHS Gold Medallists.]

Part of the RHS Botanical Art Show 2014

1. Presentation matters


Presentation really matters - a lot! These are the criteria used by the RHS when assessing an exhibit. They include (and I've highlighted in bold) points which are particularly relevant to presentation

Friday, April 11, 2014

RHS Botanical Art Show 2014 - Medal winners

Below you can find a list of the awards made this morning at the RHS Botanical Art Show 2014 at the RHS Horticultural Halls in Westminster.  The exhibition continues tomorrow.

Best Botanical Painting - by Işık Güner

RHS Best Botanical Painting - Işık Güner 

RHS Best Exhibit of Botanical Art - Hye Woo Shin


RHS Gold Medal - Botanical Art

  • Hye Woo Shin (Korea) - Heterotrophic Plants in Korea
  • Işık Güner (Turkey/Scotland) - Plants from the woods & forests of Chile
  • Lynda de Wet (South Africa) - Parasitic Plants in Situ with the Host Plant - this is her blog
  • Louise Lane (UK) - Ophrys (Bee Orchids) of Menorca
  • Nikki Marks (UK) - The Genus Arisaema
  • Sharon Tingey (UK/Scotland) - Sunflowers (Helianthus)

RHS Silver-Gilt Medal (Flora)

  • Nilavan Adams (Australia) - Veggie Might
  • Sansanee Deekrajang (Thailand) - Plants and shadow
  • Jane Fisher (USA) - Field corn
  • Verene Kutter (Switzerland) The Genus Anemone in Flora Europeae
  • Angela Petrini (Italy) - Exotic flowering trees of Italy
  • Yoshiko Kamei (Japan) - Iris
  • Gaynor Dickeson (UK) - Small is beautiful; Crab apples explored
  • Valerie Dugan (UK) - Wild Orchids of Britain
  • Caroline Frances-King (UK) - Arboreal Elements
  • Sally Pond (UK) - 'Of autumn mists and mellow fruitfulness'
  • Penny Price (UK) - The life history of Castanospermum australe 'Black bean tree' or Moreton Bay Chestnut
  • Fran Thomas (UK/Scotland) - Native Scottish marginal pond plants (Rumex aquaticus, Menyanthes trifoliata, Iris pseudacorus, Caltha palustris, Lythrum salicaria & Petasites hybridus)

RHS Silver Medal (Flora)

  • Beverly Duncan (USA) - Winter Branches - Natives of the Northeastern U.S.A.
  • Tiziana Fontana (Italy) - Sardinian Grapes
  • Anna Lu (Singapore) - Orchids

RHS Bronze (Flora)

  • Olivia Chambers - Roots, Shoots, Stems and Flowers

I'll be doing more posts about the show - including interviews with the RHS Gold Medal Winners and top tips for producing botanical art.

If you'd like to be alerted when these are posted you can subscribe to this blog (see side column).

More about Botanical Art

Işık Güner and Fran Thomas talk to Julia Trickey about watercolour paints
- Julia is using Daniel Smith for the demonstration
Ann Swan's coloured pencils

You can find more resources about Botanical Art in my resources for artists websites:

Video: Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours - Annual Exhibition

This is a video panning around the walls of the 202nd Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours

view of the West Gallery at the RI Annual Exhibition 2014
The purpose of this video isn't to give you an in-depth view of all the paintings so much as to give you:
  • an idea of the overall size of the exhibition
  • a notion of how big the paintings are that get selected via the open entry
  • a view of the paintings that were selected this year
You can of course get a much better view of the paintings by paying a visit to the Mall Galleries - the exhibition continues until Saturday 19th April 2014. (Note: It's closed on Sunday because the Mall is closed to the public because of the London Marathon)



If you're inspired to contribute an entry for next year's exhibition go to How to exhibit on the RI website

My apologies for the quality of some of the film - I was walking sideways and trying to dodge people setting up for the evening event - which accounts for some of the mini iPad angles!  However I did at least manage to switch on HD this time!
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