Friday, 18 April 2014

LEAVES and cartoon

Add some leaves to you sketch book there is a plethora burgeoning from all directions, with a rich choice of greens, blues and reds it's the perfect time to practice colour mixing. I use a warm yellow, cool yellow or lemon, a cool minty blue and a warm navy blue, a warm red and a cool pinky red. My preferred colours are Sennelier red, Sennelier rose madder, Sennelier Phthalocyanine blue, Sennelier french ultramarine, Sennelier yellow deep, Sennelier lemon yellow; with these six colours I find I can mix most if not all the greens on offer. Experiment with mixes and see what happens, if I am being teacher, mix a colour drop it into a water glaze and let it be, just watch and enjoy seeing what colour and texture matures. The ivy demo will give you ideas on techniques. Paint on scraps of best watercolour paper and then stick them into your sketch book.
On something completely different, below is the start of my cartoon commission, oh to wear hair like that.
A very Happy easter to you all, steady on the chocolate :).

Friday, 11 April 2014

Spring, Book and memories

Hello lovely people, my new project goes live on Monday continuing the next step of the lily flower study. I have been tending to my garden, just a little this week, in between painting for various deadlines. 

The section of the painting above was commissioned by my godmother's cousin; she particularly wanted the early clematis with daffodils to remind her of her university years and the friendships she made at that time. Plants are wonderful for stirring memories, I remember squishing the snow berries (Symphoricarpos albus) outside our house every autumn, while waiting for my brother and sister to walk with me to school, I can't help but squish one or two in my garden in the autumn in memory to that time in my life. This time of year with blossom, blossoming everywhere reminds me of gathering up to throw at my sister as she pretended to be a bride while sporting an old net curtain on her head, we also mushed the petals in rain water to make some kind of perfume or magic potion, ahh if only you could bottle the memories.... not the squashed blossom that never smelled good.

So with the birds singing and the sunshine and new growth everywhere , the mood takes me spiritually to Devon, we spent many Easters there with my grandparents and because it always seemed so far away the thrill of seeing them was so rewarding. Beaches, fields and streams to discover, it all seems like a dream now. Every time I paint a primrose I am transported back to my nan's garden, where I would sneak my hands through the fence to pick some primroses from the field margin. I know I was small, as when I returned with my own children my hands were too big to sneak through the wire. One thought pervades as I survey the garden, why do we love and encourage daisies and yet persecute the dandelion? AND I never once wet the bed after picking the said flower!! 

On another note, I am making excuses again, it looks like the new book will get pushed to 2015, this is what happens when you take on the huge task of completing a book in a very short time. I am desperate not to rush the book and regret the end result but I was so sure I could get the paintings complete by the end of April. I have been painting every day non stop since the last week of march and am stiff and tearing at the seams with sitting for so long at the studio table. The good news is with a little pressure off the painting will flow better and the book will benefit. 

till next time 


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

How to paint and things floral

A snippet of my painting at this years SBA show

Hello lovely people, my new project on painting a white Lily (Lilium longiflorum) is live on the subscription site I just need to tell you that the drawing part has been reshot and will have a drawing demo that you will be able to see! this will be added asap and is a lesson learned for me.
On all things floral
There are 2 wonderful Shows coming up which if you visit you should. The first is the Big SBA show (The Society of Botanical Artists) a wonderful show of all thing botanical covering mostly botanical illustration but also a wide variety of top floral painters, jewellers, glass engravers, miniatures and new this year silk sculpture and collage held at the Westminster Central Hall, Storeys Gate London SW1H 9NH 9th -18th May 11am-5pm including Sundays Wheelchair access and cafe available.
The next Show is the SFP (The Society of Floral Painters) to be held at the Oxmarket Centre of Arts, Chichester, 21st May- 8th June with the exception of the bank holiday 26th May and it will be closed on Mondays.
This week
We have had beautiful weather, calm and sunny, I had my parents and Charlie come for lunch on mothering Sunday and I made a pretty good apple pie for puds'. Then we drove Charlie back to Brighton and actually sat on the beach sipping a G&T and watching the sun go down, lovely and very welcome after all the rain and hailstones. 
I was thinking we are so lucky to have such a beautiful world of wonderful plants to observe and paint, one of my passions is walking out and seeing what is popping up this time of year, so many things get passed by especially on the verges and now is the perfect time in the UK to familiarise yourself with the wild plants close to home. 
There is a wonderful group called Plantlife I  found out about them when I was invited to teach a class for them as an activity on one of their annual get togethers at a reserve. The organisation works hard to protect the natural plantlife around us and show how they have a vital role in everyone's lives. Have a peek and see what they do.
I thought of plantlife and the wonderful work they do as I collected up the usual and sad build up of litter along the verge where I live, to free the daffodils concealed beneath the odd can or plastic bag, I am imagining we all do the same but where are the Wombles (you will need to click on the wombles word to see who I am talking about) when you need them?I was a very keen Wombler when young and actually had my own litter picking stick (a bamboo rod with a nail on the end) I hesitantly tell you this, as I am aware how strange this sounds but I loved going out with my dad and siblings and clearing a bit of woodland scrubland or beach; I am getting all misty eyed about it now. The truth is it was all about being outside and seeing the leaf buds, baby bracken curling up from the soil and so on and indeed saving the field mice from getting stuck in empty pop bottles. This latter fact was revealed to me on the kids programme 'Blue Peter' where they told use that mice climb into abandoned sticky bottles but can never get out due to the air in the bottle sucking them back in, it's too sad to think about. Any hoo I have saved a few mice and daffodils this week and seen the baby leaves about to burst forth, so all is good.
some favourite photos

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Preparing for the SBA show

Greetings, as per usual I am up against a self inflicted manic deadline, I am trying to complete my work for the Society of botanical Artists annual show. They are having the show later this year in May but I am still pushing it to the last minute, hoping I can get it all done in time. I have  4 smaller works this year with an emphasis on the botanic and one lager piece with a slightly softer style but with more impact.
I always find it tricky on how to frame the works, as I am aware of the quantity of work to judge and fear for the safety of a very expensive frame, however, pride has overtaken me this year and I have gone top of the range so fingers crossed they don't get 'dinted'. Framing is so important and though I love my shabby chic frames of the previous years, I have been advised by others at the show that they are too glitzy, which is a shame as loved them but framing is very personal.
 This year my framing is top notch and frankly if no one likes them I don't care 'cos I do, my lovely framer and I used a frame that is popular with the london set and what's good for them is good for me. I have also dropped my floating mounts this year, bowing to pressure that they are also not popular with the SBA visitors, sad face.
Roses have been my thing last year and feature heavily but I am eyeing up the lavender and fancy that this spring, we'll see if it defeats me or not.
I am visiting some of kent's finest gardens for my online tutorial website and really looking forward to it. I shall be looking for planting tips and so on so do watch out for those if you can.
I am helping my eldest son move into his new flat after leaving halls at uni this week, he isn't keen on the stuff I have kept for him in the garage preferring a shopping trip but do you know I am having to agree with him, the stuff has not aged well and I am quite sure it was better than that when i stored it in there many years ago. Any hoo, he is very excited and is keen to make me a barrister style coffee on moving in day, so there's a treat. I have a horrid sense that there are nasty colds about waiting to get me so I am on vitamins and tonics in the hope of avoiding them, I can't lose my voice before filming the tutorials, maybe I could do a silent movie? We are working on composition classes and beginners classes and there will be lots more to enjoy throughout the year.
Once the SBA deadline is out the way I will be back on the book and other pipeline projects.
Green is the colour I am digging at the moment, perhaps I am wishing for spring? of course I am.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Thank you and welcome to my painterly world

Dear friends, firstly happy Valentines day, I am wishing many roses fall or fell into your laps today.

I am delighted with the launch of the tutorial website but it's been close to the emotions of having another baby!  I have to sincerely thank everyone who has joined and for their patience.  Tom my Tech guy has helped a few to log in and I am so glad you have managed to join us. 

Don't judge me on this outfit, you were only supposed to see me from the waist up!

*One of the first things you'll notice on the subscribe site is that you need a username and password, you have to complete the new account form which is right at the bottom of the subscribe page of the payment plan you chose. You can't fill in the username and password until you have received the email conformations from us.

*If you are looking for your emails from us and your log in details, they may have gone into your spam folder so do check in there! 

*We recommend Google Chrome as your browser and you can download it for free here's the link  However, if you are finding it tricky to subscribe, please do contact Tom at and he will be able to walk you through it. 

*Don't worry if you new to this kind of site and feel at sea with it, as no doubt I would have been in that wobbly boat with you, it is all fixable. 

In a way, I am inviting you into my painterly world via this site and I sincerely hope that anyone joining enjoys the attention to quality that we have aimed for, we have been planning and secretly working on this site for quite sometime now and I have launched it quietly amongst my collected friends through email and Facebook without the fanfare, I aimed to share it with you first to get some gentle feedback and of course this is what you have done and I thank you for that; those of you who know me well will know how seriously and personally I take your expectations and satisfaction with my teaching. 

Hopefully, you have followed and joined because you like the way I paint and in return I hope to explain my techniques and share with you the joy of mastering watercolour.

At the moment, it is just me and Tom at the end of the line, Roddy and Gavin have done the superb filming and editing and Tom is in charge of the website and teaching me how to moderately update things. 

I send out the parcels, answer the non technical emails, teach my classes, book the diary and run house, home and kids and ....paint? well not very often at the moment but I do try to squeeze it all in. With all the above please do 'bear with' as they say, if I don't call back straight away or email back immediately or not send parcels the next day, you can be sure I am trying and will endeavour at all times to do it all as soon as possible respecting at all times that you are patiently waiting at the other end. 

I love every minute of my bonkers lifestyle and thoroughly enjoy teaching and sharing what I know, so I will thank you all again and wish wholeheartedly that you enjoy the tutorials and tell your friends that it is worth the effort to join (many hours of tutorial for the price of one coffee out a week) at
With best wishes and happiness in all your painting Billy Showell

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Nearly here!!

The all new Billy Showell website is nearly here, as with all things it has taken much longer than I thought but it is better than I had hoped. The book is in its final stages and the new dvd is in it's final production stage. I am of course just about dealing with all this and no doubt I will have overlooked something which I will be glad to hear from you if you think or spot something. What has been amazing is the encouragement from all over the world, I am suitably humbled, thank you. I did make one huge error with my 'sponsume' offers, I forgot about adding in the postal costs, so I will take a sizeable hit posting parcels to the US and Australia but one lives and I guess I will eventually learn. All sponsume gifts will be in the post within the next 2 weeks.

Any hoo, lovely people, below are the new class dates for Christmas and early spring 
(email Julie and for those of you too far afield my new Subscription Channel will be launched in December. Details of which will be posted like this and will also feature on the new website BILLYSHOWELL.COM

With much respect and best regards Billy

December 3rd Tuesday 10am- 3.30pm Finishing work, please bring unfinished work One Day Course £60
December 4th Wednesday 10am- 3.30pm Finishing work, please bring unfinished work One Day Course £60
December 13th Friday 10am- 3.30pm Finishing work, please bring unfinished work One Day Course £60
December 14th Saturday 10am- 3.30pm Finishing work, please bring unfinished work One Day Course £60
January 14th and 15th Tues/Wed 10.00am -3.30pm Painting leaves with emphasis on mixing colours Two day course £120
January 23rd and 24th Thurs/Fri 10.00am -3.30pm Winter Blooms Two day course £120
January 26th Sunday 10.00am -3.30pm Orchid Flower Study One day course £60
January 29th and 30th Wed/Thurs 10.00am-3.30pm Drawing including tonal painting, excellent for all levels Two Day Course £120
February 4th and 5th Tues/Wed 10am-3.30pm Orchid Special (plant to take away included in the price) Two Day Course £135
Feb 24th and 25th Mon/Tues 10.00am-3.30pm Early Spring Flowers Two Day Course £120

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Events so far and class dates

Hi, here are my summer/fall dates for classes at my studio, you will need to email for the full form and details of what spaces remain. My Blog continues below.

August 12th and 13th  Mon/Tues                           10am- 3.30pm       
Two Day Course                                                                      £120
September 11th and 12th Wed/Thurs                 10am – 3.30pm
Drawing and light washes                                                              
Two Day Course                                                                      £120
September 17th and 18th  Tues/Wed                 10am – 3.00pm
Late flower composition                                                              
Two Day Course                                                                      £120
September 26th and 27th   Thurs/Fri                     10am -3.00pm
Two Day Course                                                                      £120
October 1st and 2nd  Tues/Wed                           10am -3.30pm
Fruit study
Two Day Course                                                                       £120                                     
October 11th    Friday                                               10am -3.30pm Seasonal vegetable                                                                                One Day Course                                                                       £60
October 20th  Sunday                                              10am-3.30pm                                                                                                                                                                
Autumn Leaves                                                                        
One Day Course                                                                       £60
October 29th and 30th Tues/Wed                           10am-3.30pm
Painting Squash   
Two Day Course                                                                       £120       

Well it is lovely to be in some fine weather finally, although today it is raining, I suppose the farmers need that as well as sunshine. This year has got off to another bumpy but non the less exciting start. In the first few months of this year I taught in Cheltenham, Darlington, Chester, Devon, Hampshire, Birmingham, Wisley, Colesbourne and Battle, oh and Wisley again, Phew!

 The weather was not kind at all throughout my tour but I was able to put my metal to the test with an all night slog through heavy snow and winds and I live to tell the tale, it was 'real' as the kids say. After that I could cope with anything but on arrival to Birmingham, I realised that I had turned up a day too early, I could have wept with exasperation of my doolally ways. Those who know me will say "no surprise there" but I was very lucky to have Sue Wilson and her husband come to the rescue, they put me up for the night and Sue and I had a fabulous day shopping in Birmingham, I loved it and bought 2 new dresses, silver lining, not on the dresses, just on the free day spent shopping. La di da.After that I was back on track, Jane had organised a lovely girly supper, fabulous and we were able to have a good laugh at how I had travelled all that way on an invalid ticket!!must be my innocent face.
I am very busy writing my next book and trying to find time to paint in between but there are so many distractions. It's a huge time for our family at the moment as Will my youngest has been asked to sing at the Rolling Stones Hyde Park concert!! We are all very excited, look out for him on line as Will Joseph Cook and my eldest Son Charlie, has a song out with an artist called Tigger, he calls himself Momur. There have been lots of meetings, tooings and frowings and all in amongst a'levels and gcse's. The house is jumping with music, thank heavens for the studio, 'a place to escape the bass'.
I am waiting desperately for the new Billy Showell palette to come out, I am promised soon, it is a long frustrating wait. BUT the book is on the way and all being well will be published October 2014.
The new dates for summer and autumn are above so do have a look and see if any will suit your diaries.
I am sorry to have not made Patchings this year, the list of things to do is so long and sometimes some things have to give.
The SBA AGM was interesting, it was sad to see Vicky Marsh leave as president but good to welcome Sandra Wall Armitage as the new boss. Exciting times for the SBA with some new blood on the committee, with talk of twitter, facebook and such like being used for promotion. I even put myself forward to organise some outings, bearing in mind the Birmingham fiasco you may wish to watch this space.

detail of 'Paloma shoe'