Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Want to see some very big flower paintings?

I've had any number of people tell me over the years that flower painting isn't really serious art.

For example, I've come across a fair few chaps who select work for their art societies who don't seem to take it very seriously. Granted there's a rather lot of amateurs producing some not very good flower paintings. However, I think most of us could agree that it's possible to say the same thing about landscapes, still life and portraits!!

So why does flower painting get shut out of 'serious' art exhibitions?

Jacqui Pestell MBE and Sharon Tingey GM with their Corpse Flower
- technically this is an unbranched inflorescence - and it's the biggest in the world
I know
  • I see more skilled use of watercolour by botanical artists than I do in some of the paintings selected for major exhibitions of watercolour art. However, art isn't all about skill is it?
  • from discussions last year with the Marketing Director and Marketing Manager of Fabriano Paper (see A Meeting with Fabriano about Hot Press Paper) that 
botanical artists are very demanding when it comes to testing watercolour paper.
However, anybody who wants to see what the women and a few men who paint plants and flowers can do and have been getting up in recent years should get themselves down to Kew and view the artwork on show.

"British Artists in the Shirley Sherwood Collection" opened at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at Kew on Saturday.

I was at the PV on Monday night, spent Tuesday processing photos and writing blog posts and will be back there back again tomorrow to take a good long hard look at all the paintings in the exhibition.

Rosie Sanders with five of her paintings

You can see more of Rosie Sanders GM's work at
If you're visiting the Mall Galleries in the near future, her book was sat top middle of the Featured Books stand last time I was in!

The image at the top of this post is one I've now included on two Facebook Pages. One was prefaced by this comment...
Anybody out there who has any 'namby pamby' concepts about "flower painters" needs to change them!
The women of botanical art paint life-size - even if that means BIG!

This lifesize painting of the Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - painted very fast last summer as it reached peak flowering and while it was at its stinkiest (it's also known as "the Corpse Flower") - is by Jacqui Pestell MBE (on left), Sharon Tingey GM (on right) and Işık Güner GM (teaching in Morocco at present) who at the time of painting were all artists and tutors for the Diploma in Botanical Illustration at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.  It's been donated by Shirley Sherwood to the Kew Collection.

This is how they painted it.

Titan arum painting (Kew exhibition, 2017) from Wild Leaf Reels on Vimeo.

Finally, Coral Guest GM who describes herself as "just a flower painter" who got an awful lot of other women painting large watercolours of plants with her book about Painting Flowers in Watercolour: A Naturalistic Approach (Art Practical) (affiliate link)

She paints large plants from bulbs at their actual full grown lifesize - and some of them are pretty big! At the same time some of the detail is absolutely delicate and exquisite. Check it out and see for yourself!

Coral Guest with five of her paintings in the Shirley Sherwood Collection

The exhibition is on at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in Kew Gardens until 17th September 2017. It's open every day until 10am to 5.30pm

There's a lot more very fine art by very fine artists in the show - of which more later.... [UPDATE - see British Artists in the Shirley Sherwood Collection - a review and a timeline ]

More of my blog posts about this exhibition

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