Sunday, May 31, 2015

Best in Bloom 2015

The medal winners at the 3rd Annual Botanical & Floral Art in Bloom Exhibition at Bloom in Dublin are listed below.

You can also see a great write-up of the exhibition - and more photos - on Shevaun Doherty's blog post Bloom 2015

The links in the artist's names are to their websites or blogs. Some artists have won more than one medal in which case the link is in the name next to the highest ranking medal and not in the others.

Many thanks to Shevaun Doherty for permission to use her photographs.

Botanical Illustration

Best in Show (Botanical Art)
Iris by Siobhan O'Larkin

Best in Show

  • Siobhan M Larkin - Iris
Shevaun Doherty and the dates which won a Gold Medal

Gold Medals

  • Siobhan M Larkin - Iris
  • Shevaun Doherty - Phoenix dactylifera var. khasab Date palm
  • Nayana Sandur - Musa acuminata Banana

Silver Gilt Medals

Silver Medals

  • Shevaun Doherty - Aesculus hippocasta-num triptych
  • Nayana Sandur - Malus cultivar Red Apple
  • Holly Somerville - Hippeastrum cultivar Amaryllis
  • Holly Somerville - Tulipa gesneriana Didier’s tulip
  • Patricia Jorgenson - Romneya coulteri Californian tree poppy
  • Siobhan M Larkin - Larix decidua (cones)
  • Lynn Stringer - Chrysanthemum ‘Salmon Shoesmith

Bronze Medals

  • Yanny Petters - Malus Apple
  • June Wright - esculus hippocasta- num Horse-chestnut

Floral Art

Yanny Petters artwork which won Best in Show in the Floral Art Section

Best in Show

  • Yanny Petters - Meadow Plantain speedwell

Gold Medals

Silver Gilt Medals

  • Anne McLeod - Delphiniums
  • Lynn Stringer - Narcissus ‘Cheerful- ness’ Narcissi

Silver Medals

Bronze Medals

I referred in A new botanical art blog and two botanical art shows to the basics of what you need to know to submit work for next year's exhibition. I'll add in the URL and/or the contact person when I find out who this is.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

History of BISCOT Exhibition and Medal Winners 2015

For those interested in:

I wrote to Hazel Morris, the BISCOT Artist Co-ordinator to find out more about the history of the exhibition, how it fits into the structure of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society (RCHS) and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh PLUS how people can submit work for exhibition.

You can find her explanation below which I've edited for this blog.  Any mistakes are all mine!

I've also summarised the rules and regulations and other information about how to enter at the end

BISCOT (Botanical Images Scotia) medal winners 2015

I don't have any images of the exhibition. I'll add them in here if I get any.

This year’s medal winners are as follows:
Hye Woo Shin in April 2014

Gold and Best Picture in Show

I've met Hye Woo Shin on a couple of occasions at RHS exhibitions. She's a delightful lady who produces absolutely stunning botanical art and amazing presentations. I'm not in the least bit surprised to hear she's won Best in Show.

In the absence of any images from the show I've included the last photograph I took of her a year ago in the Lindley Hall in London when she also won a Gold Medal and Best Exhibit in Show

Silver-Gilt Medal

Silver Medal

  • Alex Scott-Plummer (UK) – Silver

Bronze Medal

  • Jeffrey Banks (UK) – Bronze - an ex-student of the RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration
  • Morag Lorimer (UK) - Bronze a member of Edinburgh Society of Botanical Artists  and an ex-student of the RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration 
  • Anne Rabbitts (UK) – Bronze

It's disappointing to find quite so many good botanical artists without a website.


What is BISCOT? 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A new botanical art blog and two botanical art shows

Three announcements for botanical artists relating to:
  1. the Botanical and Floral Art Exhibition at Bloom in Dublin, Ireland
  2. The Botanical Images Scotia (BISCOT) Exhibition in Edinburgh, Scotland
  3. my new website Botanical Art and Artists now has a News blog

Botanical and Floral Art Exhibition at Bloom 

'Fresh dates, Phoenix dactylifera'  by Shevaun Doherty
GOLD MEDAL: 'Fresh dates, Phoenix dactylifera'
 © Shevaun Doherty 2013
In Dublin, the 3rd Annual  Botanical & Floral Art in Bloom Exhibition opened today and continues until Monday 1st June at Bloom, at the Visitor's Centre in Phoenix Park. It's in the middle of what is a major event in the Irish horticultural calendar

53 paintings have now been judged and I do know that my friend, the Irish Botanical Artist Shevaun Doherty, has won
It's always a pleasure to hear about the success of friends - but even more so when it's an artist who started out on their path to success as a result of this blog! (see Why be an art blogger?) :)

Entries for the 4th Annual Exhibition of Botanical and Floral Art will open for 2016 in the near future. For those interested in entering Bloom next year here's what you need to know:
  • the exhibition is open to all artists - both Irish and international artists
  • all work submitted must be original paintings, drawings or fine art prints - using watercolour, gouache, ink, or coloured pencils
  • artists can submit up to three works
  • there are restrictions on the size of work which can be exhibited
  • all work must be for sale and the commission on sales is 20%
  • the deadline for submissions is early March each year

Botanical Images Scotia (BISCOT) Exhibition

BISCOT is a botanical painting and illustration exhibition held annually at Gardening Scotland and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It is a competitive exhibition that aims to show and encourage excellence in botanical painting and illustration.

In Edinburgh, the Botanical Images Scotia (BISCOT) Exhibition opens tomorrow. This exhibition is is the Scottish equivalent of the RHS Botanical Art Show

You can see it
  • at the Gardening Scotland Show at the Royal Highland Show ground at Ingliston, beside Edinburgh Airport from tomorrow until Sunday 31st May.
  • afterwards at the Real Life Science Studio, John Hope Gateway Building, at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. After the rehang, the exhibition opens on Wednesday 3rd June and continues until Thursday 18th June (10am - 5pm)
Admission is FREE (to all those aged 8+).

I'll be posting details of the medal winners when I can get hold of the list.

In the meantime, it's worth noting that a Gold Medal at last year's BISCOT was won by one of my favourite Australian Botanical Artists - Annie Hughes. These are the artists who won Medals for Botanical Illustration at BISCOT 2014

Gold Medal

Silver Gilt Medal

Silver Medal

Bronze Medal

If you are interested in exhibiting next year, you can find out what you need to know on the Call for Entries page on the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society website

Botanical Art and Artists - News Blog

The Banner from my new Botanical Art News Blog
I've introduced a News Blog on my new website Botanical Art and Artists so I can provide updates about:
  • any significant changes to the website as the site continues to develop
  • news of any relevant open exhibition or art competition - around the world
  • news about any botanical art exhibitions that botanical art organisations or artists may be holding
  • any news about botanical artists or botanical art organisations (e.g. medals won etc)
  • any interesting blog posts they may have written (e.g. about tips for botanical artists).
Blog posts about exhibitions I visit will continue on this blog because this is where the archive is of my extensive coverage to date of the SBA Exhibitions and the RHS Botanical Art Exhibitions

If any botanical artists have any significant news (e.g. won an award or exhibiting botanical artwork at solo or group botanical art exhibitions) you can contact me with summary details via the website's "news for the news blog" contact form.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Paying Artists - consultation report published

Cover of the report
A report has been published which relates to a campaign to secure payment for those artists who exhibit work in publicly funded museums.

Here are links to the report and some of the key articles which precded it.

The Paying Artists Consultation Report 2015. I'm not quite why the a-n makes the report inaccessible to anybody who is not a member (unlike their last report on this topic in 2014). 

That doesn't seem to me to quite fit with the notion of promulgating the concept they're advocating for.

Or is it pay to read as well as pay to exhibit?

Key findings (apparently - according to a-n) are:
  • 90% of artists and galleries support the campaign’s key aim that artists should be paid for exhibiting in publicly-funded galleries. 
  • more than 70% of galleries and 80% of artists want to see national principles and guidelines for exhibition fees. 
  • Over 70% of artists and almost 60% of galleries want greater transparency about how galleries work with artists.
This is the website for The Paying Artists Campaign

Previous particles and publications:

Pay was one of the key issues for the arts sector in 2014, which is reflected in the fact that two of our most read pieces of the year covered income, fees and expenses.
This is an alternative perspective - Rant 106: The Paying Artists Campaign. I have some sympathy.

As a long time (now retired) manager within publicly funded services I have a distrust of anything which doesn't seek to explain how a new initiative will be funded. Put more bluntly what should be cut in order that something new can be achieved. There is never any new money......

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

'Inventing Impressionism' not affected by National Gallery strike

Those wanting to catch the last week of Inventing Impressionism at the National Gallery should not be put off by news of a 10 day strike by National Gallery security staff. The striking staff no longer provide security for the external exhibitions in the Sainsbury Wing where the exhibition is being held. Thus the opening of the exhibition is unaffected.

The banners outside the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery
I sometimes think the NG staff forget that the purpose of public funding for the museum is to allow people access to the art.

The gallery has been running very largely on "office hours" for a very long time. That effectively means that those who work during the day cannot get to see exhibitions easily during the week. Which means enduring a packed out gallery at the weekend. (Make no mistake, the National Gallery is a VERY popular gallery)

Anything which enables more people to see the art is a good thing in my book. The initiatives by the National gallery to make this happen have my full support.
The National Gallery is a public asset and we have a duty to ensure the collection and the Gallery itself is accessible as much as possible to as many people as possible. We take this task seriously and our ongoing Modernisation Programme is designed to encourage a broader (and younger) audience to access the wealth of cultural inspiration the National Gallery has to offer. In particular, we have ambitious plans to extend further our education programme and public events. National Gallery Statement
Any union which refuses to recognise that the way to protect their members jobs is by negotiating within a framework imposed on publicly funded organisations is the organisational equivalent of a dolt. They need to recognise the enforced changes in public funding and the need to recognise that museums must focus on making their collections more accessible.  Besides which, every other publicly funded service has had to cope with changes to terms and conditions. I really don't see why the security staff at the National Gallery should be the exception to what is now the norm everywhere else.

These are the details of the impact of the strike.

Inventing Impressionism

Here's a reminder of some views of the exhibition which I was invited to view earlier in its run. There's one room which I find simply stunning - as I highlighted earlier.

The exhibition includes a range of paintings I've seen before and seen in other exhibitions = but it's good to see them together within the context of having passed through the hands of Paul Durand-Ruel,  the man who acted as the dealer for paintings by many of the Impressionists.

The exhibition includes a LOT of painting by Monet and Sisley plus paintings by Pissarro, Manet, Degas and Morisot

The paintings of children by Renoir in the exhibition are some of the best portraits I've ever seen by Renoir.  They are just full of colour!

Two large paintings by Renoir in the first room.

Monday, May 25, 2015

I've nominated Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the £20 note

Pinks by Charles Rennie Mackintosh
This is my nomination for the visual artist to appear on the £20 note.  Have you done yours yet?
Glasgow School of Art.
Architect: Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Charles Rennie Mackintosh is an artist whose work spanned the visual arts. He was also a real original! He was hugely creative in the early part of the 20th century as both an architect and a designer – of furniture, metalwork and graphic art. He also drew and painted wonderful watercolours.

Finally the appreciation of this man crosses borders within the UK and beyond. Importantly, he had a notable influence on others in Europe. He also enjoys global recognition for his buildings and designs. He is truly a man valued by others.
I wrote about this last week in Celebrate a visual artist on the next £20 note

Nomination Form

This is the nomination form - which needs to be completed by 19 July 2015.​

You have 100 words to say why your visual artist should be the one to appear on the £20 note.
Visual artists include architects, artists, ceramicists, craftspeople, designers, fashion designers, filmmakers, photographers, printmakers and sculptors.

The Bank will not feature fictional or living characters, with the exception of the Monarch, who appears on the front of our notes.
Unless you nominate your favourite person may not be considered.
  • The shortlist will be drawn up by the Advisory Committee from the names of individuals nominated by members of the public.
  • The governor will make the final choice from this shortlist 
  • Who's going to be on the next £20 will be announced in Spring 2016.
At the end you can see who others think it will be. But first a bit of a wallow in Mackintosh.

Visual Arts by Charles Rennie Macintosh

This is House for an Art Lover which has a fascinating history - starting with Mackintosh being technically disqualified from the art competition that he entered with the design for the house.

A window at Hill House - designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh
This is the Willow Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchiehall Street - and a design for the tables and chairs

Design for tables and chair with high back, for the Room de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow, 1903.
Pencil and watercolour on wove paper, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

The Fort (c.1923-4)
pencil and watercolour on paper mounted on board
watercolour painting by Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Note: All images from Wikimedia Commons

More articles about the £20 Note

I think by now you will have begun to appreciate that there are some very partial opinions out there and doubtless there will be some pretty heavy duty lobbying on behalf of different interest groups!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Who's made a mark? #265

Art Competitions

Call for Entries

Selected artists

Other art competitions

You can keep up to date with the major art competitions on my Page (see top menu) - Major UK Art Competitions

I've had it confirmed that:
  • the Threadneedle Prize has changed dates and, as such, there will be no exhibition in 2015. Here's the announcement and online submission opens on 13 July 2015, 12 noon
The 2015 Threadneedle Prize exhibition, normally held in September/October each year, is moving to the beginning of February 2016. Online submission opens on 13 July 2015, 12 noon. This change in date will give The Threadneedle Prize even greater visibility. We also plan to tour a selection of the 2016 exhibition to Europe. More details will follow.
  • the Derwent Art Prize is not being run this year but you can expect it to be back in 2016. The Call for Entries will go out in January 2016.

Art Exhibitions

Open in London

Open in the rest of the UK

The idea of ‘Provincial Punk’ is an oxymoron but it encapsulates creatively some sort of spirit in my work that still goes on to this day. It is a very creative force, a willingness to turn things over, to not accept the fashion and to have a bit of fun. It is a kind of teasing rebellion; it is not a violent revolution.”
Grayson Perry
  • On the topic of Grayson Perry, there are now traffic jams in Wrabness as the world and his wife and kids turn up to try and see Grayson Perry's house for Essex in Wrabness - see BBC Grayson Perry house: Congestion problems in Wrabness and my blog post about the television programme Grayson Perry's Dream House - tonight on Channel 4 - which was really interesting both in terms of the structure and its content and the way people responded to it. I'm not surprised it's generating crowds - although I guess once the novelty has worn off it will become like Antony Gormley's 100 cast-iron, life-size figures of Another Place on the shifting sands at Crosby Beach.

Open in New York

Closing soon

Plate 6: The After Party (2014) by Henry Hudson
varnished plasticene on board, 183cm x 245cm

Already closed

These were the exhibitions which opened and closed in the last two months

Opening next month

  • The RA Summer Exhibition opens on 8th June and lasts until 16th August
  • The Not the Royal Academy Exhibition opens on June 9th at the Llewlleyn Alexander Gallery at the Cut in Waterloo. This is the annual exhibition, inspired by the original Salon des Refuses, which features works originally rejected by the RA Summer Exhibition Selection panel.  
  • I'm not quite sure where that leaves the accepted but not hung works - and I know one friend has one of these this year.....
The BP Portrait Award website looks a bit different this year

The exhibition includes works by great masters of the medium from its origins to the 20th century, with portrait miniatures by Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, flower drawings by Pierre Joseph Redouté, as well as a series of stunning landscape watercolours by John Constable, Peter de Wint, John Sell Cotman, Samuel Palmer, J. M. Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro and Paul Nash.

Announced for later in the year

The National Portrait Gallery announced a new exhibition will be opening in September - see Simon Schama's The Face of Britain - and selfies

Art Books

  • Paul Riley and the magic of watercolour flowers - For those who'd like a different perspective on how paint flowers - this is about a new book, video and exhibition - about the magic of watercolour flowers - by one of my old tutors.

Art Business

Art Materials

  • Artists and Illustrators has a great article - 7 steps to better pastels - I've been wanting to read for a long time. It's all about how Pastel Society member Sarah Bee uses acrylics, charcoal and gesso can help you get the most out of your pastel art

Botanical Art

  • My new website about Botanical Art and Artists has been up for just over a month - and it's changed quite a lot since I first published it
    • It now also has a news blog and this post explains how I will use in future to highlight news from botanical artists as well as changes to the website
A news blog for Botanical Art and Artists - featuring news from Botanical Artists
as well as changes to the website
  • Last week I also created a new page about Blogging about SBA Diploma Assignments - which has been very well received by ex-students.  This post details which artists have had their past blog posts highlighted alongside the relevant assignment
  • For the record, these are the blog posts about last month's annual exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists

Drawing and Sketching


Odds and sods

Here are a variety of posts which I can't think of a heading for!
Cosmo - drawn using pastel sticks in Sketchbook Pro app on my Mini iPad.
  • Celebrate a visual artist on the next £20 note - interesting responses to this post on Facebook - but I fail to see why some of the suggestions for female contenders have quite the weight of male visual artists who might be in the running.  Anyway - at the end of the day it will all depend on who gets nominated!
  • The Royal Academy of Arts is getting a multi-million pound major overhaul with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant - A major overhaul for the Royal Academy of Arts campus - and I got to do a Press View with Alan Yentob and a TV crew from the BBC.

Techie stuff 

Photographing artwork

  • How to photograph your artwork is a very good article in Artists & Illustrators about photographing artwork which goes beyond the normal stuff that gets written. So far it's been shared 24.5k times!

 Videoing artwork

Google and websites

Statcounter Analysis and Review of Search Traffic by Browser

  •  Surprisingly Google now generates less than 75% of search stats- see this post by Statcounter  Yahoo gains further US search share in January.  Remember when we thought the world would forever be dominated by Microsoft and Internet Explorer?

Responsive websites

I'm still trying to update websites and I'm still trying to fit in a proper break. It's not working too well so far.

and finally......

As I indicated in 14 good years my cat Cosmo, who starred in Sketching 365, is coming to the end of his life. It's day by day at the moment - with every day after the end of this month being a bonus. Early this week he was really down and today he's been (relatively speaking) quite perkie - and I'm up and down with him also....

If I disappear for a while you'll know why.

Cosmo asleep - drawn using a pen and ink app on my iPad Mini

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Paul Riley and the magic of watercolour flowers

A NEW book - The Magic of Watercolour Flowers by Paul Riley
I'm a huge fan of all artists who paint flowers - and they certainly don't have to be strictly botanical!

A very long time ago one of the first tutors I had when I was trying to get back into painting was Paul Riley. Those of you familiar with the The Artist magazine will know he is a regular contributor, writing on a regular basis about watercolour painting.

One of the things I really liked is that he doesn't paint like a lot of other artists. Instead he paints in a very calligraphic way - and really enjoys using all sorts of different brushes. His courses were where I learned all about the various brushes used in the East.  Plus Paul is a painter who loves colour and isn't in the least bit bashful about using it!

Anyway, he's now been painting for 50 years and is still going strong. This is his website - Paul Riley Art and this is the website of Coombe Farm Studios - which is the related family business which delivers workshops by Paul and other artists. I've certainly enjoyed the location down in Devon and the courses there in the past.

The Magic of Watercolour Flowers

However the reason for this post is a new book and an associated video plus exhibition!

The Magic of Watercolour Flowers is his new instruction book - published next month by Batsford (I've got his last two books and they're both very good.)

Plus below you can see the new book has also prompted a new video about Paul painting flowers in watercolour.  It's very typical of the man and the way he paints.

    I also recognise very many of the locations and the blossom from time I've spent there in Devon - and I've drawn and painted some of them!

    PLUS this is the exhibition The Magic of Watercolour Flowers  associated with the video and the new book. It's on at Coombe Gallery in Dartmouth and opened to the public yesterday and continues until 16th June 2015.

    So - if you love painting flowers and want to try and broaden your skills, I'd definitely recommend a bit of a closer look at a different perspective on how to paint flowers in watercolour.

    Friday, May 22, 2015

    Hogarth and Henry Hudson

    crop of the first plate Leaving China New Hopecopyright Henry Hudson
    The other day I went to see a quite remarkable show called The Rise and Fall of Young Sen by a young artist called Henry Hudson at Sotheby's Gallery.  If you get a chance to see it before it closes on 29th May I really recommend you visit - and be amazed.

    If you do go, be prepared to stay a while, there's an awful lot to see!

    The show - and the work - is remarkable for four reasons:
    1. Hudson set himself the challenge of creating a contemporary version of Hogarth's series of images on a moral purpose and has pulled it off. His series of 10 panels is amazing - and then some!
    2. He works in plasticine - it's varnished prior to exhibition.
    3. It's big! He refers to the individual panels weighing something similar to a bronze.
    4. He sold most of the works before the show opened.
    Just to give you some sense of the size of this endeavour - here's a view of six of the ten panels in Sothebey's Gallery. At the end of the gallery you can see two people standing in front of one of the panels.

    The Rise and Fall of Young Sen - Plates 5-10
    Sotheby's Gallery
    copyright Henry Hudson
    In this instance, updating the series to the present day has involved switching the individual to a young Chinese man who comes to the west to study medicine but who then becomes distracted by the art world and begins a journey through various aspects of the contemporary art scene.

    The Autopsy at King's College
    There's a myriad of references to contemporary events in the image
    Plus spot the reference to Damien Hirst's works
    copyright Henry Hudson
    I kept being bemused as to which Hogarth series the contemporary version was following. There's an element of A Rake's Progress with a smattering of Marriage à-la-mode and Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751) in this instance updated to drugs rather than alcohol.  

    However what struck me the most was the overwhelming amount of content. It's also not unlike Grayson Perry's The Vanity of Small Differences - particularly in relation to size, perspective and the emphasis on drawing out lots of small but important details. However there's an awful lot more 'content' in these Henry Hudson artworks.

    3. Protest and Performance
    spot the National Gallery in the background
    copyright Henry Hudson
    I'm not in the least bit bothered by the similarity. I'm just really pleased that there is yet another artist who is interested in narrative art and social comment on contemporary behaviour!  The fact that like Grayson Perry, he's chosen to make his artwork in a medium not much seen in galleries these days is all the better!

    These are links to:
    His website also explains the process of how he works

    You can see more of his work on his website - including the drawings which appear to be an essential part of the process.

    Below you can find images of some of the works in the series.

    What isn't mentioned so much is the fact that the series is laden with references to art - both historical and contemporary. In fact it's quite a heavy duty work-out in the "spot the cultural reference" department.

    There's everything from a reworking of The Third of May by Goya (and Manet) in the final 'plate'

    a crop of The Execution
    this tells the story  Young Sen's return to China and his beating and final demise
    copyright Henry Hudson
    to echoes of the faces painted by Francis Bacon (plus spot The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron)

    crop of Rehabilitation
    copyright Henry Hudson
    in the remarkable work about Rehabilitation - which in turn echoes the paintings of St Remy by Van Gogh topped off with images associated with Jeff Koons and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

    copyright Henry Hudson
    These are links to articles about the exhibition and the artist. The universal theme is how the series took over his life and consumed all his time for a very long period.

    Thursday, May 21, 2015

    Society of Botanical Artists - Diploma Assignments

    Students of the Society of Botanical Artists' Distance Learning Diploma Course come from all over the world.

    Over time, rather than being isolated in their studies and studios, they've come up with a few ways to keep in touch over the 27 months as they work their way through the various assignments and their portfolio and the work for assessment at the end of the course.

    One is the Facebook Group for Botanical Artists (3,426 members as of today - and climbing all the time). Another is blogging and there are now quite a few botanical art blogs!
    Along the way some of those studying for the Diploma decided to share what they were doing and how their assignments were going on their blogs.

    Then they started to share the feedback they got - plus tips for how to do things - and the process they were using to develop their artwork....

    I've been watching and reading some of these blog posts for a long time. It suddenly struck me that they were a resource that could be lost if not made a tad more accessible. (For example, just as they are always lost forever if similar posts are made on Facebook - because that archive is not easily accessible if at all)

    Hence why I've now created a new page devoted to blog posts about SBA Diploma Assignments on my new website Botanical Art and Artists.

    Each of the assignments is listed in order:
    • they include the outline of what is involved in each assignment
    • this is followed by blog posts which relate to this Diploma assignment (note the numbering has changed of late)
    Artwork produced by the SBA Distance Learning Diploma Students
    - as seen at this year's SBA Annual Exhibition
    So if you're starting the SBA in January 2016 - or have already started and are a bit stuck with your current assignment - why not go and have a read of some of the blog posts!

    I'd like to thank all the ladies whose blog posts have been included on the page. The name of the blog is indicated in italics.  Those whose names are highlighted in red were awarded a Distinction for their Diploma.

    • Vicki Lee Johnston DipSBA(Dist.) (Vicki Lee Johnston - Botanical Art- Lives in Western Australia - and of course all the seasons are out of synch with the course! Vicki graduated from the Diploma Course with Distinction and I found her posts very helpful.
    North America - Canada & USA
    • Laura Ashton DipSBA BAC (Laura Ashton Illustration and Design) - Lives in Canada. In 2014, Laura Ashton was awarded a Diploma with credit and the Jantien Burggraaff Memorial Award for progress. In 2015 she became a member of the Botanical Artists of Canada. 
    • Lori Vreeke (Art by Vreeke) - Lives in California, USA. Her assignments are completed in coloured pencil
    • Helen Cousins (Petals and Paints) Started January 2014 and due to complete early in 2016. Helen is currently studying medicine in Southampton. Helen's posts are excellent in providing feedback on how her assignments were marked thus providing lots of information for those currently studying or thinking about doing the Diploma course.
    • Jarnie Godwin AssocSBA DipSBA(Dist.) (Sketchbook Squirrel) - Jarnie was awarded a Distinction for her Diploma work
    • Jessica R Shepherd DipSBA (Inky Leaves) - Lived in London and now lives in Spain
    • Dianne Sutherland (Dianne Sutherland - botanical artist) - Dianne was awarded a Distinction in 2011; she's one of the Moderators of the Facebook Group and has been an artist and illustrator for 30+ years.

    I learned a lot from this exercise

    Vicki Lee Johnstone - with her Diploma with Distinction
    The first thing I learned is that it's not difficult to predict who will be awarded a Distinction from their assignment work during their course of studies - and often from an early stage. 

    It's something to do with the commitment and the approach to research and preparation. 

    It's also something to do with the character of an individual who does NOT choose the easy option but rather chooses a challenge.  

    It reminded me very much of the character of and the processes employed by the artists I meet who win RHS Gold Medals for their botanical art.

    The next lesson I learned is that just as the standard of Diploma work produced at the end of assignments has progressively improved in recent years, so too has the standard of work produced for the Diploma assignments.

    What struck me very forcibly is that it's never too early to start taking this form of art seriously and that putting time, effort and research into the process of producing an artwork pays off in the long run.

    Before long they're going to have to start a pre-Diploma Certificate Course to get people up to the standard they need to be to take on the Diploma!

    The final lesson was the sheer pleasure to be gained by following somebody's journey and watching them improve how they work and what they produce as a result of a structured process of learning. As somebody who has a degree in Education and qualified as a teacher a very long time ago, that's an experience I never ever tire of.

    and finally......

    This Diploma course has had a hugely positive impact on the calibre of work shown in the SBA's Annual Exhibition.

    It also generates tuition fee income for the society which is paid over in fees for those who teach and assess the course.

    I'm just left wondering why more art societies don't develop their own Diploma Courses......

    A Making A Mark Interview with Margaret Stevens is the interview I did back in 2009 with the past President of the SBA Margaret Stevens PPSBA, FSBA. Margaret was the first Director of the Course. She was also the person who got it off the ground and the person who wrote the four SBA books which are set texts for the Diploma Course. It's an education in how to get an art society involved in improving standards of artwork.