Yes, it’s that time again (albeit a little later than usual) but I’m all packed and set to return to the island – more than ready now for some sun, glorious SUN!!
With spring arriving so late here in London this year and a real lack of the usual display of spring flowers in the city parks, what better note to end this long winter on, than with a visit to the Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition.
A profusion of glorious blooms, exquisitely portrayed, currently deck the halls of the Methodist Hall in Westminster, opposite the Abbey:
and I had the good fortune to be invited along to the preview (member’s day) today, by my dear friend the Irish artist, Mary Dillon. It was not only an opportunity to see the exquisite work on display close up but to meet many of the artists I have long-admired too.
Mary with Siobhan Doherty in front of her wonderful work
A full and exciting day ended with us all sharing a meal in Covent Garden and after much excited chatter (and perhaps a few too many bottles of wine) many new friendships have now been firmly formed.
Among them were several eminent botanical artists including: Fiona Strickland (http://www.fionastrickland.com/) and her husband Robert McNeil (a recipient of some of this years awards), Deborah Lambkin (of the RHS & Irish Orchid Society) and several of Mary’s fellow students on the SBA Distance Learning Course who will be graduating tomorrow.
I was also delighted to meet the 2012 Artists and Illustrator’s ‘Artist of the Year’, Linda Alexander (http://www.lindaalexander.co.uk/) and Katherine Tyrrell, herself an artist and extremely successful blogger (with over 2 million hits on her very informative art blog: http://makingamark.blogspot.co.uk/)
January and february may have been dull and dreary but to be honest I’ve been a bit too busy to notice. With several commissions, as well as new works for my forthcoming summer exhibition, to complete, including:
there’s been little time for much else but I have managed to squeeze in a few more visits to exhibitions here and there. ‘Manet’ at the Royal Academy was a real highlight for me – I went several times – and I particularly enjoyed the George Bellows Exhibition, which ran concurrently and will continue until June.
Most of my time however has been taken up with completing the Sculpture Course at Kensington & Chelsea College:
which I’ve really enjoyed – not least because of the wonderful friends and fellow artists I met there:
Our farewell end of term lunch
My first major piece is finally finished and fired:
I’ve yet to collect it and when I do, I’ll definitely be signing up for another course!
Working 3 dimensionally has certainly improved my painting skills too. It helped immensely with a large oil portrait I’d started, as a surprise for a dear friend’s 60th birthday:
Delivering it in person, when we attended his fabulous Birthday bash in Folkestone, gave us the bonus of a wonderful chance to breathe in some fresh sea air and explore the charming seaside town:
and elegant georgian and Victorian terraces, along with it’s inspiring and thriving art scene in the cobbled streets of the ‘Creative Quarter’ (see: http://www.creativequarterfolkestone.org.uk/)
Quite a few of the paintings I’ve completed recently were also commissioned for upcoming birthday ‘surprises’ so unfortunately I can’t show them to you just yet…..but I hope that explains why I seem to have all but abandoned this blog for a bit – there just haven’t been enough hours in the day!!
Of course there’s always time for surprise visitors and, thankfully I’ve had a few of those too. My dear friends from Skiathos, Matt & Kees, hopped across from Holland (where they spend their winters)
arriving with arms full of tulips, delicious waffles and huge hunks of Gouda cheese!
In just a few days we covered every inch from Portobello Road, Oxford St. (including the paintings of the Dutch school in the Wallace Collection) and St Christopher’s Place:
to Covent garden
they brightened up our days no end – bringing some very welcome colour and laughter into an unusually cold and long drawn out winter!
Now the time has come to return to the island and prepare the villa and studio for the summer ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing all the familiar friendly faces again and get ready to welcome a new stream of visitors.
But first there’s the Orthodox Easter to celebrate at the beginning of May and, falling so late this year, it promises to be quite an event – guaranteed to be sunny for once and well-attended too, as the first tourists of the season will already have arrived.
The wildflowers will be out in profusion, carpeting the hillsides in great swathes of colour.
Ooh, I can hardly wait!
Skiathos here I come!