Sunday, May 13, 2012

13th May 2012 - Who's made a mark this week?

Date Palms by Shevaun Docherty
an assignment for the the SBA's Distance Learning Diploma Course in botanical painting
I'd like to share one of the reasons I write this blog - and why I cover so many art society exhibitions and art competitions.

It all started from my own personal interests.  However as time passed I started to get feedback from people.  It seemed my interests were shared by many others.  That I knew from the numbers of people subscribing.  However, it also appeared that my readers were people who also acted on what they read.
  • A young artist entered the BP Portrait Award and won the Young Artist of the Year Award.  I found out at the Awards ceremony he'd read about the competition on my blog and decided to have a go when I went to interview him!
  • Others have entered art society exhibitions once they've seen the type of work which gets selected for display - and have come away with major prizes.
One of my personal favourites is the artist who starts to study art in a more structured way.  Shevaun Docherty enrolled for the Diploma in Botanical Illustration run by the Society of Botanical Artists after reading A Making A Mark Interview with Margaret Stevens - my interview with Margaret Stevens PPSBA, FSBA the then President of the Society of Botanical Artists and the Course Director for the SBA Diploma. I had a lovely note from Shevaun last week.  In it she told me about telling Margaret Stevens this story when she collected her Diploma on graduation.  Plus she also told me that one of the new students on Course 9 had contacted her to tell her she had applied for the Diploma Course after reading my blog post Botanical Art under fire.  This was about how Shevaun was completing a botanical art assignment for the Diploma while living in Egypt, in the middle of the uprising as part of the Arab Spring last year.

Now Shevaun is trying to work out how to get an Irish Society of Botanical Artists started.  If you're interested and would like your name passed on to Shevaun do let me know (see side column for contact details)

And so it passes forward.......

Both the images are by Shevaun and they're both of trees with fruit.  At the top is an image of Date Palms bearing fruit and below is a sketchbook image of an old olive tree plus the leaves and fruit.  I gather that the latter has been selected for a new book about botanical art about which I can't say much at the moment!

Sketchbook Study of an Olive Tree by Shevaun Docherty
work for an assignment for the the SBA's Distance Learning Diploma Course in botanical painting
For more about who who's made a mark this week....
Artists and Art Blogs 

Botanical art
Instead of publishing a complete interview like I normally do on the first day of the month, Liz and I will work together to lead this month’s conversation. We are slowing down our dialogue so that you can comment and ask questions as the conversation develops.
Drawing and Sketching
Painting and Plein Air
  • Stapleton Kearns (Stapleton Kearns) continued with his series of ideas about painting plein air.  They really are an excellent set of posts - and need to be in a book!
    • Plein air, idea 8 discusses the concept of "keying" a painting right from the start
    • Plein air ideas 9 identifies the faults in plein air painting which he's come across again and again in 25 years of teaching plein air painting.  It's a brilliant list and is recommended reading for all plein air artists!
The painting is in all middle values with the contrasts so suppressed that the painting has no punch.
  • James Gurney (Gurney Journey) wrote about Nose Room last week - the space needed to allow the face in the portrait to "breathe".
Portrait painters sometimes use the term "nose room" for the extra compositional space allotted for the direction that a face is looking. 
Art Business & Marketing
The works of the Painter of Light have been reproduced on furniture and inspired the building of a whole village, but the verdict into his death reveals a bleaker picture
Art Societies

Art Exhibitions
Art Society Presidents
  • Thomas Plunkett PRWS is the new President of the RoyalWatercolour Society.  He was elected last month.  Presidents of the RWS normally serve for three years.  An archive post on this blog tells me that he was elected as an Associate member in 2008 so I now understand a remark made to me about the next President of the RWS possibly being a bit of a surprise to some people!  He previously served as Treasurer of the RWS between 2009 and 2011.  You can see his works on paper on his website and on his member page on the RWS website
  • I'm pleased to hear that the President Elect of The Pastel Society is a woman!  Cheryl Culver PS RBA will take over as President from John Ivor Stewart on 2nd July 2012.
Varnishing Day at the Royal Academy
first published in Punch 19 June 1877, p. 226
Art Education

Tips and techniques
  • I was amazed the first time I found out that pastel artists used under-paintings! Then I began to see how effective they could be in terms of impact and reducing the amount of pastel on the paper.  Richard McKinley (Pastel Pointers) has written a post about  | Getting Started With an Underpainting, Part 1,  In it he looks at the scope to use pastel or watercolour for an under painting.  He doesn't mention using solvent with pastel - so I'm wondering whether this is in Part 2.
  • Matthew D. Innis (Underpaintings) has some recommendations for oil painters re varnishing which you can read in Hiler's Rules for Varnishing.  It contains images of some wonderful engravings of Varnishing Day at the Royal Academy.
  • The Victorian Web also contains a fine description of Varnishing Day at the Royal Academy and some observations about the women artists in the engraving by du Maurier
Art Exhibitions


Art Galleries and Museums - London 
  • I'm going to the Press View for The Queen - Art and Image at the National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday morning.  This has finally arrived in London after time spent in exhibitions in each of the capital cities of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
New York

Internet and Techies
and finally.....

We have three bookcases assembled and today we're moving them all into place.  On Wednesday my friend who does fiddly fixings secures them to the wall - while I got to an exhibition - and then I fill them (again) with books.  My jaw keeps dropping as sort out the books and try to develop the Tyrrell Art Library categorisation.

  • Q.  Did I know I had a complete shelf of books about Monet?  A.  No! I knew I had a lot but didn't realise it was a complete shelf.  Hockney and Freud take up another shelf.....
  • Q.  Did I realise I had a complete shelf of books about botanical art? A. Yes - in the sense they'd never been all together - but they were a very big stack when located on the carpet!  However I have a niggling feeling that some of them have gone AWOL and I might actually need more than one shelf
My shelf of Botanical Art Books
history to the left and instruction to the right
  • Q.  Had I ever counted all the art books I had?  A.  Once - a very long time ago and I'm still working on getting them all assembled for a count.
  • Q.  Have I ever estimated the value of my art books?  A.  No - but did so after my other half gazed on all the hardbacks and asked me what they had cost.  I got a complete shock when I started with just one shelf and realised I must have spent about £800.  (I am a bookaholic and this is why my visits to art book shops are rationed).  I will be reviewing my insurance cover when I've finished!
Do YOU have any tips for how to organise a library of art books?  Or keep being a bookaholic in check?


  1. Nice to see botanical art being represented so well by Shevaun and Jessica and the SBA course... and also look forward to the interview with Lizabeth Leech. I have her book Botany for Artists on order and disappointed I waited, as I thought it was the paperback version of Botany for the Artist by another author. So many books, so little time ...

  2. This is truly a wonderful blog, and I'm so glad you write it! It's so encouraging that you're helping great artists to find the right shows to submit their artwork to- really making the art world a better and more beautiful place :)

  3. Thank you so much for featuring Shevaun's artwork. I miss her so much in the Scavenger Hunts at Wetcanvas. I have always been a fan. We "hunters" were with her in spirit while she was going thru the upheaval in Egypt. I am so glad she is continuing her artwork even tho I don't get to see it any more. If you correspond with her, let her know I think about her and her girls all the time.

  4. Thank you so much for writing this very nice blog!
    I saw Shevauns sketchbook for the SBA course at the meeting for course 9 of the SBA Distance Diploma. I was absolutely amazed by her work, and by what others from the previous corses had done! Thank you for showing us more of her work!


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