A few places are still available for these two botanical art workshops being held in Moycullen, County Galway on Saturday 26 September and Saturday 24 October 2015. Even if you are a complete beginner, you are very welcome to come along and spend the day (10.00am – 4.00pm) painting some special autumnal subjects, such as chestnuts, blackberries, coloured leaves etc. Cost for one workshop is €40 per person, or €75 for both workshops.
September is almost here and botanical artists look forward to the wonderful autumn foliage, fruits and seed pods that provide endless possibilities for new paintings and drawings. It’s also the time of year when classes begin again after the summer break. I am looking forward to meeting new students as well as ‘veterans’ of previous courses.
Thursday morning classes begin again on 10 September in An Fuaran, Moycullen, Co Galway, with the first course running until Thursday 29 October, inclusive. Another eight-week course will begin in mid-November. Details are on the poster, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by phone or email. An eight-week course costs €140, but a €20 voucher towards the next course will be given to all students at the end of the course.
Saturday workshops will also begin in September and will be scheduled roughly once a month. These have been extended by one hour and will run from 10am to 4pm with a short break for lunch. The price, however, remains the same as before: €40 for the day.
Do remember to book early as places are limited.
Plans are also underway for a number of informal workshops at Claregalway Castle during the autumn and winter, so watch this space for further information on those.
I’m delighted to be taking part in Heritage Week at Claregalway Castle this year. As botanical artist-in-residence, I will be working in the Farmhouse at the castle every afternoon (12.30 – 5.00) from Monday 24 – Friday 28 August inclusive. On Thursday 27 August, I am also giving a talk at 6.00pm in the lecture hall: Heritage of Irish Botanical Art from 1750 to the present. There is a small admission fee (€5: adult; €3: concession; child: free) for the talk, but there is no charge for visiting the Farmhouse to see my work in progress, as well as the exhibition of botanical paintings by several members of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists. If you are in the area, do drop by for a chat and a cup of tea. There will be some free handouts about botanical art, along with some beautiful botanical art books to browse through.
Heritage Week will be celebrated in many different ways at Claregalway Castle and there is something for everyone. Dr Chris Doyle will be doing his fabulous tours of the castle every day during Heritage Week at 12.30, 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30 – no better way to learn more about the fascinating history of this sensitively restored castle. On Wednesday 26 August, Chris will also give a talk at 6.00pm about Cromwell’s siege of Claregalway Castle. If you are interested in medieval combat, there are demonstrations on Saturday the 22nd, along with archery displays and a children’s bow and arrow workshop. And the following weekend, Saturday 29 August. 6.00pm–10.30pm, there is a celebration of the life and work of Ciarán Bairéad (1905-76), and especially of his work as a folklore collector and recorder of Irish dialect in Claregalway, County Galway.
Bloom In the Park is Ireland’s largest horticultural and food festival. For five days over the June bank holiday weekend, a portion of Dublin’s Phoenix Park is turned into a festive wonderland of gardens, floral displays, artisan food, entertainment and, for the last three years, the very best in Irish botanical and floral art. The 2015 Bloom Floral and Botanical Art Exhibition featured a total of 53 adjudicated paintings. That 21 of these paintings received awards was a testament to the high standard of the work in the exhibition.
The medal winners were as follows:
Category: BOTANICAL ART
Best in Show
Siobhan M Larkin – Iris
Siobhan M Larkin – Iris
Shevaun Doherty – Phoenix dactylifera var. khasab Date palm
Nayana Sandur – Musa acuminata Banana
Shevaun Doherty – Aesculus hippocastanum 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
Yanny Petters – Malus Apple
June Wright – Aesculus hippocastanum Horse-chestnut
Category – FLORAL ART
Best in Show
Yanny Petters – Meadow Plantain speedwell
Silver Gilt Medals
Anne McLeod – Delphiniums
Lynn Stringer – Narcissus ‘Cheerfulness’ Narcissi
Nicola Lynch Morrin – Iris
Sue van Coppenhagen – Hellebores
I felt very honoured to be included amongst the award winners, receiving a silver-gilt for my Heliamphora heterodoxa, a sun pitcher from the Guiana Highlands of South America, belonging to the carnivorous plant family Sarraceniaceae. Whilst working on this painting, I became fascinated by carnivorous plants, and I look forward to painting more of them.
For anyone in the Galway/Moycullen/Barna/Oughterard area, I am starting botanical art classes on 23 October. The first eight week course will take place on Thurssday mornings from 10–12.30 (see image for details). Beginners are very welcome. Even if you are not sure whether this is for you, come along on the 15th to learn more. Please pass this on if you know anyone who might be interested. Only eight places per class are available so that students receive plenty of individual attention. There are just two places left for this module, but further classes and/or workshops at other times may become available if there is a demand for them. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Finally, after a winter of slogging away at freelance design work, I have managed to organise my time a little better to allow regular painting time. I have always felt that I should do freelance work first, and painting second (after all, it’s the freelance work that pays the bills at the moment!). As a result, I got very little painting done because by the time I found some free time, I was too tired, the light was gone, and it just seemed too late in the day to set up my drawing board. Having become thoroughly depressed by my lack of progress, I decided to make drastic changes to my daily routine, with painting my priority for the morning hours. Sounds like a simple solution, but it’s not so easy to change long-established habits! There is nothing like a little pressure to push one into making those long-overdue changes, and when the opportunity arose to submit a painting for exhibition, it gave me the impetus I needed to change.
This watercolour of freesias is the result of my new work habits. Painting in the morning when the light is good, before I get caught up in all the other daily happenings and demands, has made all the difference in the world! I have found that most days – even when I have deadlines looming in my freelance work – I can manage four or five hours to draw and paint. As a rule, any more than that becomes counter-productive because I start to miss details or get sloppy. The great side benefit of this new routine is that painting relaxes me and actually helps freelance design work progress faster and better – the creative juices flow so much better! I just wish I had done this ages ago!
Painting the freesias resulted in a big learning curve for me. To begin with, it is the first large piece that I have painted on hot press watercolour paper – 300lb Fabriano Artistico. Before that I used NOT watercolour paper, because I felt more confident working on a paper with a texture. However, I knew that I would never get the really crisp finish that can be achieved on hot press paper. After a few practice pieces, and more than a few mistakes and false starts, I started to feel more at home with this wonderful paper, and found that it isn’t quite as daunting as I had feared. I found it more difficult to lay down washes on the smoother surface, but detail was so much easier to paint. I found the granulation of the purples a little frustrating, and I have become aware that I need lots more practice in laying down washes with confidence. On the other hand, I am quite pleased with the colour and the composition. I sent off my entry for the art exhibition today, and now I have to wait until the end of April to find out whether the painting has been accepted. Whether it is or not, I feel that I learned a great deal from this painting, and I had fun doing it. Now I can’t wait to get on with my next painting!
The opening and first two days of the Botanical Art Expo at Claregalway Castle were very successful, with a huge attendance. Holding an art exhibition at the immensely popular Galway Garden Festival at Claregalway Castle gave us the advantage of a very large footfall at the beginning of the exhibition. The weather was better than recent days – a little showery on Saturday, but plenty of sunshine on Sunday. The crowds at the festival were even bigger than last year and there was a wonderful atmosphere, with music, superb speakers, delicious food and lots more, all against the colourful backdrop of all the plant stands on one side and the beautifully restored castle on the other. Late on Sunday, I had the pleasure of showing TV gardening personality, designer and author, Diarmuid Gavin, and his lovely wife and daughter around the art exhibition. Diarmuid was one of the speakers at the Garden Festival.
On Saturday, I once more had the opportunity to listen to a talk by Dr Matthew Jebb, Director of the Botanical Garden at Glasnevin in Dublin. Dr Jebb is a superb speaker and one is always sorry when his talk comes to an end. He spoke about ‘hardwoods’ and ‘softwoods’, which perhaps doesn’t sound particularly scintillating, but Dr Jebb made it fascinating and very informative.
I also managed to get to the talk by Joy Larkcom, and how glad I am that I had the chance to listen to her talk about her life and the amazing work she has done in bringing so many new vegetables into common usage in Britain and Ireland. She is a most charming and unassuming lady, full of sparkle and enthusiasm, and I felt very honoured to be able to meet her. She and her equally charming husband, Don, now live in West Cork, where they have developed a marvellous garden despite the exposed coastal environment in which they live. Her latest book, ‘Just Vegetating, A Memoir‘ is a fantastic read – I bought a copy and then found myself staying up till the early hours reading it.
Getting back to the opening of the art exhibition, the speaker at the opening was author and art critic, Vera Ryan. She spoke so eloquently and with such feeling about the place of botanical art in the context of the art world in general, and graciously mentioned all the artists and their work in detail. It was a great pleasure to meet her and to listen to her – can’t help wishing that I could have had some one like her as my art history instructor in art college!
The standard of work in the exhibition is very high – with a wonderful variety of styles and media. The exhibition is divided between two rooms, with the larger focusing on botanical art illustration – ‘the area in which art and science meet’ – with the work of artists Grania Langrishe, Yanny Petter, Susan Sex, Sabine Springer, Lynne Stringer and myself. The other room featured the much-admired pastel artwork of Gordon D’Arcy and the stunning tree ‘portraits’ of Anne Towers, both of whom are residents of the west of Ireland. The entire exhibition is, we believe, is a new departure for Galway, where one seldom has the opportunity to view an exhibition devoted to botanical art. Hopefully this will start a new tradition, with the Botanical Art Expo becoming a regular feature of the annual Galway Garden Festival.