The Spring Exhibition at the Jonathan Cooper Gallery in Chelsea is celebrating botanical art with an ONLINE Exhibition - due to the constraints imposed by the lockdown.
Fiona Strickland (six works) - Fiona is a world renowned botanical artist and tutor who lives in Scotland. b.1956 in Edinburgh , she received a Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art. Her watercolour paintings are complex and very detailed and demonstrate her amazing control over multiple layers of transparent watercolour to create her intense colour and beautifully rendered tone for the smallest details. She has exhibited internationally and has won several awards including a Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal (2008) and The Hort's "Best in Show" Award at 18th Annual International in New York. Her botanical artwork is much in demand and is included in premier collections around the world - including the RHS Lindley Library, the Shirley Sherwood Collection and the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation and numerous private collections in Europe, USA and Australia. Jonathan Cooper represents her in the UK and the works in this show feature single blooms of spring flowers - tulips, poppies and hippeastrum.
Colour is Fiona Strickland’s signature approach to botanical watercolour. Her attention to detail and technical virtuosity in the use of transparent washes - used to build her vibrant paintings - highlights her skill in handling colour. Strickland's emotive response to the visual elements of colour, tone, texture and movement in the plant world is captured in her very personal approach to botanical painting.
Note also that Fiona Strickland's second solo exhibition "Tulipa" at Jonathan Cooper - which was due to be held this May - will now be held between 4th - 26th September 2020. It will feature 18 paintings in watercolour on vellum. I'll be writing more about this in due course.
Rosie Sanders (six works) - Rosie lives and works in Devon and is well known for creating large to very large paintings of intense colour in watercolour on a variety of paper (Arches, Saunders Waterford and Richard de Bas). In London, her works is available from Jonathan Cooper's Park Walk Gallery and the works in the exhibition are priced between £3,800 and £34,000. She is a self-taught artist who started as a freelance botanical artist in 1974. Since then she has won five RHS gold medals and researched, written and illustrated a number of books including one on Roses and another on The English Apple. She exhibited with the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation in 1992 and her work was in the very first exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew (and a number of others since). Her work is included in numerous collections and she has been commissioned to produce paintings for both the Queen and the Queen Mother.
Beverley Allen (six works) - was born in Sydney in 1945 and is now one of the leading botanical artists in Australia. has exhibited annually at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney ‘Botanica’ Exhibition since 1999 and internationally including New York, Washington, Chicago, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Kyoto and London - winning prestigious awards. Her paintings are included in the Highgrove Florilegium and in the collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens in both Sydney and Kew Gardens, the RHS Lindley Library, the Hunt Institute in Pittsburgh. Her paintings in the exhibition are in watercolour on Arches paper, mostly at 50 x 40cm (£3,800 - £8,500)
I'm a very big fan of comprehensive and well organised catalogues of art materials. I like people who take the trouble to provide information about the paints and other colour media that artists use - including pigment numbers and lightfastness ratings.
I also know from talking about the art materials used for botanical art with very many botanical artists that there's a keen interest amongst very many artists about what's best, what's on offer and what's new.
"New", of course, is a relative term. If you've not previously been aware of a brand, colours, associated materials then it's "new to you".
Which is long way round of identifying that Jackson's Art have produced an extremely impressive 132 page guide in its Watercolour Catalogue 20/21. I've never ever seen one before that beats this one - and I've looked at lots over the years.
It's not available as a document. It's only available as a digital file. I don't blame them - it would cost a lot of money to produce as a print document and maintain the very necessary print quality on the colours and shades. Viewed on screen, what colours look is entirely down to how good your screen is and whether it is white balanced.
Yesterday I visited the Rosie Sanders: Secret Letters Exhibition at Jonathan Cooper's Park Walk Gallery just off the Fulham Road in Chelsea. The exhibition finishes on Saturday and I very much recommend you try and get to see it if you can before it finishes. Her work is simply stunning!
There's a very big incentive for those coming to London for the SBA Annual Exhibition to also make a visit to the gallery to see this one too. Gallery hours are 10am – 6.30pm on weekdays and 11am – 4pm on Saturday so it's definitely possible to fit two botanical art exhibitions into one day!
The exhibition focuses in particular on large and small paintings of roses - painted in a less conventional way - from the rear or as they have reached a stage where they are past their best but nonetheless marvellous convoluted structures.
The box with the secret letters - one of which is given to the buyer of each painting - is displayed in the window
The exhibition also includes
I think many of the more precise botanical artists might be surprised by Rosie's techniques. Rather than using dry brushwork, it's her practice to work much more directly - wet in wet and mixing her colours on the paper. She's extremely adept at developing very convincing structures through masterful use of tone and colour.
Her work is not matted. Rather the deckle edged paper is float mounted within a narrow quality frame.
The paper she uses is either
Prices of paintings are for the serious collector - one of whom is Shirley Sherwood. I arrived at the gallery after a visit to her home nearby where I admired her new acquisition of a splendid smaller painting of a very red rose past its best.
I took some short video shots as well yesterday and will include the video in this post after I've done the editing - which always takes a little time.
Sales have been very brisk - Rosie's work is always very popular!
I counted sixteen paintings of the 26 paintings in the exhibition sold to date. Prices of those paintings still available can be seen on the website and are in five figures for the larger paintings and £3,800 for the smaller paintings.
For those who couldn't get to see the exhibition - this is my video of a walk round the exhibition. It starts outside in Park Walk, shows you the window of the gallery with the box of secrets and then looks around the walls on the ground floor and lower floor.
Rosie exhibits with Jonathan on a regular basis - typically a solo show every one to two years which always do well as her work is very collectible. You can see all currently available work on the gallery website.
You can also see her work in her book Rosie Sanders' Flowers: A Celebration of Botanical Art (affiliate link).
Gallery: Jonathan Cooper, 20 Park Walk, London SW10 0AQ
Bus: 211, 11 and 22 on the Kings Road or 14 and 414 on the Fulham Road
Tube: South Kensington and Sloane Square
My previous reviews of her work and exhibitions:
Following on from yesterday's post (see VIDEO: Lizzie Harper compares painting on different watercolour papers), Wendy Hollender contacted me to tell me she had also produced a video about testing different papers.
Her video (and blog post) display
Some comments on the video before you watch it:
Perhaps the most important conclusion she makes is that taking time to get to know a paper properly is necessary if you really want to make a proper assessment. In other words she could work with all the papers in the list if she adjusted how she worked.
So here's the video (which you can also view bigger via YouTube - click the YouTube bottom right in the video when you start it).
Her blog post provides more details about Evaluating Hotpressed watercolor papers for botanical drawing. It covers:
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Both this video and the one from yesterday are now included on my page in the Education section about Paper for botanical artists. This also offers guidance on how to test paper.
The most important advice I have to offer is that only YOU can work out the best paper for your work. That's because everybody works slightly differently and what works best for one artist will not suit another.
So take your time and do some testing:
DO YOU HAVE A VIDEO OF YOUR PAPER TESTING?
If so, please do let me know.
If it adds value to the ongoing debate I'm happy to share it via this blog and my website.
This post is about a BRAND NEW and very useful video comparing paper for botanical artists by professional artist and illustrator Lizzie Harper, who specialises in botanical, natural history and scientific illustration.
In the video, she tests samples (not sheets or blocks) of five different watercolour papers.
She made it as her contribution to the collective effort to find a new paper for botanical artists after the problems with Fabriano Artistico HP. There have been a number of problems with that paper experienced by many botanical artists have in recent times. Some artists have given up on waiting for Fabriano to find an answer...
The papers tested are:
I won't spoil the ending by telling you which two papers she says she'll be focusing on in future.
This article on her blog shows you close-ups of the papers and the results achieved.
I will add a note of caution and advice.
Of late artists have found that samples of some paper have not been the same as either sheets or blocks of paper they have subsequently bought from the same manufacturer. Canson Heritage is the latest to be "under the spotlight" on this score.
Hence if you'd like to repeat the test for yourself - because people work in different ways and what works for one person is not necessarily the best paper for somebody else - I suggest you
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This video has been added in to my new page about Paper on my website. (I also have a page about Vellum)
My Paper Page is still a work in progress but it covers:
I'd love to see more videos of botanical artists testing different papers and the results you've achieved so I can share them with others via my page. It's a lot more permanent than sharing on Facebook!
I'm getting a lot of enquiries from botanical artists as to what progress has been made with "the Fabriano Artistico story" and the major change in how the paper behaves.
Below you will find
Fabriano Artistico and Botanical Art - the story so far
Fabriano Artistico has been much favoured by botanical artists for very many years. For many years it has been a surface which stands up to the demands of those wanting to create very precise paintings of botanical specimens
Then something changed. You may not have read my previous posts on this topic.
Plus I did an update for the Society of Botanical Artists Winter Bulletin - an extract from which summarises what has happened since the meeting with Fabriano last summer.
Fabriano have done some trials since the meeting. To date they have been unsuccessful at identifying what needs to be different to produce the old surface. This means no prospect of a change back to the old surface in the near future.
Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
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