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 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

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 here is the link to my pins 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 :).

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