Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Nearly February!!!

black petunias from last year's SBA show.

Dear Painterly Friends, I have had very little time this year so far to paint and when I do have time I will iron, clean, hoover, organise etc. etc. anything but paint. Infuriating as this is I eventually pick up the brush and then the phone rings or I check my email and then have to sort out work things.

OOO LA LA, this is a problem added to that, one has to squeeze in a new year diet and exercise programme, it would be funny if it wasn't so tragic, the perpetual cycle of to do's. As I wrote to one lady recently 'my mind is like a washing machine, constantly turning, always clean, sometimes in a spin, always jumbled up and always with one sock missing'
But not this year, let it be known that I will endeavour to be a grown-up; surprised and amazed at how my sons are taking control of their lives and destiny, I am taking inspiration from them. Somehow I have brought up 2 men who talk with conviction and elegance and rather than working on the edge of chaos like their mother; they work out their lives in a calm and considered way, in a way that I can only dream of. Thank goodness their father's genes have risen to mould them and my doo-lally genes have been suppressed, long may that last. 

Such is my youngest son's extreme good sense, that when I said I may buy a scooter/ motorbike or such like, he said 'that in no way was I a fit person to undertake such a purchase, I can't even stay upright when climbing a gate', this is true and rather annoying that I appear so vulnerable (this link is not me I might add) to him but at least I could say back to him that he now knows how I feel about him having a motorbike. Yeah.
The online tutorials are ticking along and I am going to start working through the list of suggested project throughout February. My classes in the studio are filling fast and I am looking forward to students coming from Australia, Singapore and France. I am starting to feel a bit nervous actually and hope I do their journey justice.Wish me wings.

 Ps. This year I have been invited to be on the committee of the SBA for a one year trial and am hoping to be of use to them. It is an amazing show that they put on every year in April at the Westminster Central Hall, which by coincidence is where my final Fashion Degree show was held, many years ago, so it is a place that holds a lot of memories for me. They are looking for Businesses that would like to put their logo in our show catalog, it only costs £50 and the catalogues are kept for years so it is a great way to remind people of you business. If you know any company that might be interested in advertising in this years catalog then all you need to do is send their details to pam@soc-botanical-artists.org and she will know what to do.We are always looking for volunteers to help with the running of the show, stewards etc if you would like to be involved then do get in touch with me and i can forward your details to one of the ladies in charge, It is a great way to have time to really study the work and pick the brains of long standing SBA members.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Christmas card 2014 copyright billyshowell

I wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
At this time of year the Cook/Showell household is a buzz with last minute 'finishing off jobs.' My hubby Simon and I are manically painting some decorative pieces for a commission; we have to paint 3 huge Chinese ancestors and a large Chinese cabinet, it's not just flowers that get painted around here. The work has been ongoing since September but we are now on the last push before the delivery date. Every year there is always something that is required in time for Christmas so the Cook household juggles around it all.

All in all it has been a busy and we are delighted that so many students have joined the on line classes and had fun doing so; we are constantly looking to improve the site and this year will see new ideas and tweaks.

My new Classes start after February so as to hopefully allow me some time to paint and to avoid the worst of the weather, 
 fingers crossed. If you are keen to join the classes in Tunbridge Wells then do drop me a line and I can send you the details. 

I leave you with one of my favourite little cake recipes which I make for my students at class and my Christmas card illustration and of course I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New year.

Billy's little Apple Fairy cakes

I use little muffin cases you will need about 12-16 cases for this quantity
Mix together in a mixer
8oz /225grams gluten free self-raising flour (or ordinary flour if you prefer)
6oz/170 grams baking margarine or butter
7oz/200 grams caster sugar
4 small eggs or 3 large
1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 level teaspoon of baking powder

Stir in
2 tablespoons of natural yogurt or cream if you prefer
2 large cooking apples peeled and chopped into small pieces
Dived the mixture between the cases
Bake for 20 minutes in a medium oven on the middle shelf
I use 160 degrees (310 Fahrenheit) in a fan oven (gas mark 2-3)
Leave to cool then dust with icing sugar or decorate with butter icing.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Hello again and Discount tickets

Hello dear blogets, some time has passed since I wrote a blog as life has been some what challenging. Nothing too traumatic just some major and quite difficult changes in my boy's lives and lots and lots of admin. Admin is the pain of my life and yours too I would imagine; one student said to me the other day that she would like to see my diary and see a typical day in my life!
This got me to thinking there isn't a typical day in my life!!!, the only constant is that I am always in a muddle with my diary, I can't be trusted to book air flights (really) and I am drawn to pink flowers like a moth to a flame and must stop.
Seriously though I have forbidden my self from painting pink but it is so hard to stop, virtually all the flowers that are still in bloom are pink and nearly all the flowers I want to paint are pink. This theme must stop. So with that in mind I am going to paint white flowers for the SBA next year. I will never beat last years show in terms of delight at selling and getting a prize it was a dream and I am sure I will never repeat it. I can't compete with myself so the pressure is off and with that in mind I can think outside the box.
At this point I imagine you have stopped reading this odd little blog, so I am going to finish by adding a couple of tips so as to be helpful.
1. When painting pink flowers remember 'pink and yellow make pencil permanent' so always use the lightest pencil line you can muster.
2. Remove all pencil from a pink painting after the first wash has dried, that way you will avoid making it permanent
3. You can use an eradicator to gently lift away any pencil caught under the pink paint, if you do it quickly after the first glaze has dried.
4.Winsor and newton Opera rose is really good and I will stand up to anyone who says it isn't
5.Try not to paint too many pink flowers
till next time
ps here is the big sale details and you can get 10% 0ff if you book a free advanced ticket for one of the days.
Big Open Studio Sale
At Billy Showell’s Studio Tunbridge Wells Kent

November 22nd to 24th and Nov 28th to Dec 1st
From 10.00-16.00
Paintings, prints cards books and art materials
Please email billyshowell@live.co.uk for directions

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Summer News

How do you do? may the sun be warming your toes.
This summer has been very interesting, we did get away with the boys and they tolerated being with us very well despite our interests on holiday being so very far apart!!
Of course when you are away you leave all your deadlines behind but on return they are waiting to pounce on you the minute your key opens the door, the garden survived being neglected most of the summer but I have been busy weeding and apologising to the plants by deadheading and tending them well since my return.

The tutorials have been more varied through the summer by way of some of the requests on the survey. I really hope you enjoyed the little departure from botanical precision, it is good to dabble and play with your painting style as it may indeed open a door to understanding the medium a little better so don't be afraid to give it a go, it is also great to paint outside.
The next project 'Peony bud' is back to my usual style botanical painting this autumn we will be introducing fruits and vegetables and some little subjects from my still life collections and we will be looking deeper into composing a picture. I will also be sharing some colour mixes with you for you to practice. We still need you to send in some of your paintings inspired from the tutorials, it encourages others to have a go and we love to show off your work if you'll let us.

By the way, I am having a studio sale in November so if you are in the area pop in for a cup of tea and a browse through the goodies on offer. The dates will be advertised nearer the time but if you are keen to get them in the diary then they are printed on the class date sheet available to download from my classes page on my website billyshowell.com

I have tried to keep August for family and catching up with the book and so far it has been exactly that but with the Florum (a floral and botanical exhibition in Sevenoaks UK) and Palmengarten (an SBA show in Germany) exhibition deadline spread on top for good measure.
My big sister has been visiting from Australia, which is amazing, it's like she is always here and we tick along as usual and then all too soon she will be on the far side of the earth :( I will have to plan a trip to Sydney to teach and visit her in return and top up the little Australia shaped hole in my heart.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

June, Pinterest, and framing.

Dear lovely friends, it has been a varied month so far, the SBA show was my best so far, I sold 4 out of the 5 paintings and still feel a little giddy about it. The large painting called 'South facing wall' won the Suzanne Lucas memorial award (Suzanne was the founder president of the Society of Botanical Artists) and peoples choice, get me a chair!!! 

I thought the show was colourful and varied but we still need new and exciting artists to join the fold, so spread the word and encourage fellow artists to apply, most mediums are being considered.

Any hoo, following up on family matters, in case you are following me, I did actually have to tolerate a party for Will and am recovering from a very late night after peeling drunken girls up from the floor at 2am in the morning; followed in the morning by a massive trip to the bottle bank, I am very concerned that the young'uns  drink so much and that's before they arrived at the party! I now miss the jelly and ice cream days. With a full moon, a late night and a storm brewing, I am not in the best of ways following such an evening :)!*

Patchings art fair was a hoot and my dear friends Julie and Beverley came up to help me run the stand, as usual we had a fun time and some interesting meals out in Nottingham. I am not sure I will be back next year as June is proving to be a tricky month for me, all the flowers are out and I hate missing them.

I ran a competition at patchings for a chance to win 6 months free tutorials and after folding and shaking the entries then picking out the winning entry the winner is ............

!Margaret Jefford!

Moving on I have 2 things for you, firstly I have been pinning on Pinterest and will be adding tips and musings this week for followers of my boards, I have just added some little collage boards inspired from my sketchbooks and will be adding sketchbook paintings which will be for sale, or perusal if you so chose. You may not know that I have in the region of 300 unfinished works or work in progress, some may never complete and some are finished as incomplete as they tell a story on how to paint a flower and the journey towards a finished piece. If you have no idea what Pinterest is, it is a website where you can find and collect images that inspire you, just like a pin board or scrapbook, you collect and pin in your favorite ideas and pictures. Watch out it's addictive! 

Secondly I have been writing about Framing following the SBA show. I was curious on what other artists had chosen and asked permission to photograph the corners of some frames to compile a gallery of my least favorite and favorite frames and I have written why I think some work better than others. Do remember that framing is a personal choice but fashion does come into it and therefore one should bear that in mind when framing to sell. 

A look at Framing paintings
To begin with I would like to say that framing your art work is very personal and that if you agree or disagree with my opinions below, I would point out that I am as guilty as the next person for making framing faux pas and although I love some of my framing choices they are not always universally appreciated.
I started at the SBA show this year looking to see what had sold and how it was framed, thinking that there would be a theme to pick up on; there certainly were very few sold in the traditional, old style, brown lacquered wood frames and a majority of sold works were in smart, well chosen frames, so that was a good indication that my observations on framing are indeed running true on this occasion.
Choosing how to frame your work
1.  Unless you are a framer or have a framer in the family, find a framer that frames a variety of work regularly and has their finger on the pulse as to what is in vogue.
2.  Ask the framer what is in trend and what frames art lovers are choosing at present. People often reframe artwork to suit their interior decoration especially fine, original art, as it is cherished and hung on their walls, so will often be used as a starting point when choosing colours for redecorating (original art is rarely shoved in a drawer and forgotten but hung on the wall and appreciated).
3.  Chose simple and good quality frames, if you don’t respect and value your work enough to frame it well then you can’t expect onlookers to respect and value you work.
4.  Check out what other artists are using, visit galleries and exhibitions and see the styles that look best, ask artist friends to recommend a framer, they are often only too happy to share the contact.
5.   When costing your work add the price of the mount and frame on top and then you will know how much you value your work, if the framing costs more than your painting then you are not charging enough for your artwork. Your time and skill and the love you put into your work are worth paying for, the work if sold will be cherished and adored, the new owner will have worked hard for their money and they will respect that you have worked hard for yours.
6.  Your framer will have some suggestions on what will look good with your painting and are usually happy to discuss options, do try to keep it neutral and simple as fussy framing can detract from the work and indeed clash with simple modern interiors, they will also advise acid free mounting to avoid discolouration to your work, this is very important in helping your art survive under glass.
7.  Don’t scrimp on the mounts, thick mount board or double mounting is slightly more expensive but looks so much nicer. Do also try to match the colour of the mount with the paper, coloured mounts at present are not in vogue and only rarely enhance the delicate floral work that we do, dirty, dull or poorly cut mounts are only going to lose you a sale.

8.  Mounts should be cut for the final piece, if you squeeze your art into a ready made mount whose dimensions are wrong for the painting then you are again telling people that you don’t value your work enough to get a mount cut especially for it.
Many times I have seen paintings squashed into mounts and frames that don’t look like they were cut for the painting: a classic indication of this is that the mount is too skinny on the top and bottom or too skinny on the sides. Have the mount made with the painting in mind; a beautiful piece deserves a beautiful mount and frame.
In conclusion, although mounts and frames can be somewhat of a pricey investment, your artwork deserves the attention, it takes many years and lots of practice to improve and perfect your painting skills; therefore your final beautiful works should warrant the protection and enhancement of a beautiful frame.
Here are some examples of frames and mounts at this years show:
Below is a beautiful box mount created from mount board to give a deep recess for the painting.

This is a simple white wood frame with a double mount, classic and simple.

This is similar to the previous choice but in a pale natural wood, this has been a staple for the last 10years or so.
* A quick ‘by the way’ on mount size and depth, make the mount a reasonable depth to give substance but don’t make it too deep that it dominates the internal space of the frame. If it makes the picture too big it may get rejected due to limited hanging space.

A silver frame is nice and suits green and white pictures but be aware that they can damage easily at shows and are hard to repair. Notice the lovely thick mount board.

This is a brushed silver metal frame again easily damaged. The generous double mount gives added depth.

This type of frame is affordable but can often look too casual and the very cream mount may also look like it is bought off the shelf and may be too warm next to the fine white watercolour paper. When I started out, I used similar frames and was often asked by buyers if they could buy the work unframed, it may have been that the frames were not enhancing the picture and or that they preferred something more expensive looking.

This type and colour of frame I have found are not that popular with buyers at present so be careful when choosing traditional frames as you could be making your choice look old fashioned. Of course I may be alone in this view and will stand corrected if you have used this type of frame and sell well.

This framing was beautiful the generous mount and simple frame complimented the work and the silver slip worked well with the lilacs in the painting. The large mount was applicable as it was a very large panting.

This frame also worked well with the painting and the gold slip worked well with the warm colours in the picture. (Interestingly both of the above adorned sold paintings)

This type of frame (Above) is also out of favour at present, it might look nice in very traditional settings but the reddish brown of the wood is not an easy colour to place in the d├ęcor of modern homes.

I like the generous depth of this fame although the mount could have been a bit deeper, maybe half the depth of the frame to give it some importance (this is a personal choice of course).

I love this frame; it is a frame within a frame, popular in galleries and suitable for acrylic and oil paintings.

I love the deep chamfer on the frame and mount; this is good simple effective framing.
As you can see there is a theme of pale wood and white frames on the sold work, this is good to know and may be of help when choosing your frames for your next show.
I do hope you find this interesting and helpful I wish I had been advised when I started out and really hope you think it was worth the read. Wishing you much success with your painting and indeed framing, it’s a tricky thing to get right. x
 Copy right Billy Showell 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Where did May go?

Hello lovely people, I am sorry and can't believe that it has been a month since my last post! I must write in my 2015 diary that everything happens and blooms in May. All is out and some flowers are over, the grass is jumping the borders and with lovely weather I am itching to do some gardening but it must fend for itself as I have been away teaching and must now prepare for Patchings and Wisley.
Will, my youngest is 17 today, so much to do but I am relieved I don't have to arrange  parties any more, least ways not the type with jelly and ice cream.
This has been an emotional month with my most wonderful Pa being ill through much of it (thankfully he is on the mend) then my most wonderful Ma becoming run down, again thankfully well again; then on a happier note one of my dearest friends becoming 60 and then long time much loved friends visiting from Australia. It was so so nice to have our friends in our lives and close again and then so sad to see them leave. I often dream of hitching up my life and moving to Oz, another life await us there. On top of all that the SBA show has been on the SFP show is starting and Will has been in the midst of AS levels. 
There is no food in the house and a huge pile of washing yet in the scheme of things I am managing to keep everyone fed and clothed, get the tutorials filmed and the classes taught. I have had students from Germany, America and nearer but not much to me Leeds, Hull  and Scotland and am thrilled they they come so far to take my classes; hoping that I don't look too bedraggled when they meet me for the first time. 
Patchings is my next big event, I am busy assembling my stuff to sell. the link is below to this and the SFP show so do visit both if you can, you'll have a great time. 

For inspiration and collecting images you love check out Pinterest.com here is the link to my pins http://www.pinterest.com/billyshowell/ enjoy!

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 :).