Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery Courses & Talks

Nursery Talks

Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery has a number of talks scheduled over the holiday season and January - see below for detail. The talks are given by Malcolm Hepplewhite and are illustrated with a Power Point presentation. They take place in the Nursery's lecture room. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served. There is no charge, but please call by the afternoon before the talk to assist with the catering. Everyone attending the talk will be eligible for a 10% discount on plants on that day (excluding plants already on special).

Tree Courses

The first revised tree identification course, 'A layman's guide to 37 trees indigenous to Gauteng', was held in November. This course was so well received that the same course has been scheduled again starting in late January. Those people that attended the November course all indicated they would like to attend the next course in the series, which looks at another 35 trees and shrubs indigenous to Gauteng. This will be run in March 2014 for the first time.

These courses are meant for the average person who is not botanically minded but would like to be able to identify some of our indigenous trees in the wild ( or in gardens). It is very much a hands-on and practical course. Each student will be given a sample of each tree to look at, touch, smell or even taste. These samples can be pressed and kept for later reference. At the end of the course you will be able to identify 37 different trees that are indigenous to Gauteng, but are also found elsewhere in Southern Africa.

Dombea rotundifolia(Wildpear) is one of the trees indigenous to Gauteng that is included in the first tree course.

The courses are divided into four morning sessions, namely three formal, illustrated presentations and one field trip at the end to see many of the trees in a natural setting. The presentations will be held in the nursery lecture room at 363 Valley Road and will start at 08h30 and finish by 12h30. There will be an opportunity after each of these sessions to examine natural specimens of many of the trees at 363 Valley Road. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available before and during the sessions at the nursery.

The first course, A layman's guide to 37 trees indigenous to Gauteng will start on Saturday, 25 January, and the other two lectures on 01 and 08 February. There will be a field outing to Kloofendal Nature Reserve on Saturday, 15 February, from 08h00 till 12h30. This outing will give a chance to test your new knowledge in a natural environment.

The second course, A layman's guide to another 35 trees and shrubs indigenous to Gauteng will take the same format as the first, but will be run on Sunday mornings from 08h30 - 12h00, on 02, 09 and 16 March 2014 and a field outing to the Kloofendal Nature Reserve on 23 March.

Cost for the course is R800.00 per person. Each course will be limited to 16 people, book by email (witkoppen@webmail.co.za) or phone 011 516 0262. There is a non-refundable deposit of R400.00 to confirm your place on each course.

Upcoming Events at the Nursery

December Wednesday 18
Indigenous fragrance

January Friday 03
Shade gardening with indigenous plants

January Saturday 04
Planting for the Birds - Indigenous plants that will attract and feed birds in your garden

January Wednesday 15
Some Indigenous Garden Plants with Medicinal Properties

January Saturday 18
Shade gardening with indigenous plants

February Saturday 01
Indigenous fragrance

February Sunday 02
Some Indigenous Garden Plants with Medicinal Properties

February Wednesday 05
Indigenous Garden Plants and Winter

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Exquisite Miniatures

BAASA Gauteng was honoured to have the Miniature Art Society of South Africa visit us for a talk and demonstration at our last meeting of the year. 'Exquisite' was the word most uttered around the room.

Some samples of miniature artworks

These delicate works of art are not simply small paintings. Neither are they novelty art. They are meticulous works of fine art and are rendered in fine detail with tiny brushstrokes, good composition, perspective and colour balance - all the aspects of any good fine art.

Val Christie demonstrating her delicate watercolour technique
Work is done using a magnifier to ensure correctness, as the size allows no tolerance for error; a single brushstroke that is out of place becomes a glaring error. Judging is also done using a magnifier so that detail rendering and technique can be carefully scrutinised.

This picture and the one below were part of a 'stamp' challenge
Pen & Ink rendering - cellphone cover gives scale
It is a flawless art form that invites the viewer to look more closely and conveys a feeling of intimacy when held in the palm of one's hand.

The history of miniature art is an ancient one, probably one of the earliest forms of art after rock art. It can be seen across Western and Eastern traditions, from Europe to India and China to Persia, in the illuminated scripts from the 3rd century onwards, sharing links with the miniature portraiture that flourished from the 16th century in Europe. They were usually painted in oil, watercolour or enamel on vellum and even ivory, the latter imbuing the painting with a radiant glow. Nowadays a synthetic form of ivory called 'ivorine' is used, but paintings and pencil work are more commonly executed on hot pressed watercolour paper.

Strict framing rules are applied

As with botanical art, all framing must be archival as these works are treasured by collectors. Guidelines for the strict size requirements of miniatures can be found on the MASSA website where the one sixth rule is explained.

Anyone wanting to know more about this art form can click here to visit the Miniature Art Society of South Africa's website. Thank you Val Christie, Daphne Carew and Massimo Leone for inspiring us with your enthusiasm and dedication to this delicate art form.

For more photos of this event click here.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Closure of Watercolour Society Africa

It is sad to see the demise of the Watercolour Society Africa, as it comes as a stark reminder of how tenuous an organisation can be, since it has only its members to keep it going. The WSA has been forced to close due to lack of member involvement in running the organisation. Below is the final  message to WSA members from 2012 Chairman Barabara Moore:
Dear Members of the WSA and ASA,

We are moving in rapidly changing times where time is precious and everything is done on the go. Even art, in many cases.

I find that even in the sketching community that I belong to, people are doing digital sketches (and pretty impressive ones at that) on iPads and even phones. I am reading a book on drawing, published in 1920, where the author complains bitterly about the rushed pace of life, so nothing has changed there. However, he also says that everyone owns a pencil that they use most of the day, and bemoans the fact that so few use the pencil to draw - just for work. I think that owning and using a pencil is more or less unheard of today, unless the person is an artist, of course.

Our Watercolour and Art Societies have joined the ranks of the victims of change. The digital, internet world has ushered in other ways for people to stay in touch with other artists and ideas. On line selling of art is becoming more and more the thing. Societies are being phased out, unless they are web-based.

So sadly, we say goodbye, not just to a Society that has served its members faithfully since 1974. We say goodbye to an era, and wait to see what change will bring us next.

I would like to add my personal thanks to all those who gave so unstintingly of their precious time, to serve us, the Members over the years. So much was done to promote and develop watercolour as an art medium, and some absolutely beautiful art has been produced over the years. Many of those who inspired us to ever greater heights in our art are gone to a better place. We must remember them and the great things that came out of their vision and their efforts.

Thank you, Zanne Bezuidenhoudt, Kerry Bekker, Wendy Prowse and Debbie Schiff for all YOUR hard work in sorting everything out and closing the Societies with grace and honour.

I shall be so sad to see it go, but I have some wonderful memories to treasure of my years in association with a wonderful group of great artists, and beautiful people.

I urge those who want to keep in touch with other artists, and have access to some pretty interesting and useful benefits, to join the Lowveld Association of Art. They are hoping to keep watercolour alive, and have some pretty energetic and dynamic artists on their committee under chairman Ilona Petzer.

Keep painting and enjoy every moment of making art.

Barbara Moore

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Winsor & Newton Artists' or Professional Water Colour?

Have you been confused by seeing Winsor & Newton Professional water colours and not being able to find Artists' water colours? We have been assured by Winsor & Newton that these are the same product, but that Professional colours are just new packaging.

From their website:

The new tubes show all the information that artists have told us they really want to see. 
Name of range: This identifies the colour range.

Colour name: This is the name of the colour. These are not necessarily unique to a range or medium, e.g. Cerulean Blue exists in Water Colour and Oil Colour.
Series number: Indicates the relative price of the colour and is determined mainly by the cost of the pigment. Series 1 is the least expensive and Series 5 is the most expensive.
Colour swatch: Shows how the colour will look when painted out, without having to open the tube.
Quantity: Indicates how much paint is in the tube.
Permanence rating: The Winsor & Newton classification of permanence measures not only lightfastness but also film & chemical stability of the paint. Ratings are labelled as:
    AA - Extremely Permanent
    A – Permanent
    B - Moderately Durable

Pigment Content: Each pigment can be identified by its Colour Index Generic Name. As an example: Cobalt Blue is Pigment Blue 28, abbreviated to PB28. More than one pigment abbreviation indicates multiple pigments.
Opacity: Symbols are used to represent the transparency/opacity of a colour. Transparent colours are marked with Transparent colour icon, semi-transparent colours are marked Semi transparent colour icon. The relatively semiopaque colours are marked with Semiopaque colour icon and the opaque colours are marked with Opaque colour icon .
Lightfastness: Is shown with an ASTM rating for the pigment. The ASTM abbreviation stands for the American Society for Testing and Materials. This organisation has set standards for the performance of art materials including a colour's lightfastness. In this system I is the highest lightfastness available, though both ratings I and II are considered permanent for artists' use.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Artist: the story of an aspiring botanical painter

The Artist

Directed by: Laurence Dworkin & Tonia Selley
Camera: Ivan Strasburg, Tim Wege
Producer: George Davis
Duration: 18min 10sec

Ebraime Hull loves indigenous plants. At the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty’s Bay he got to know them as a garden labourer. His love grew as he developed the skills to become a propagation specialist. Ebraimes’ passion for plants was amplified by his talent and ambition as an aspiring artist. He is now proud to be part of the tradition of botanical painting, which for centuries has serviced both science and the creative arts. This is the story of a young man who shares both the joy of creativity and the hard edges of daily life.

Find out more about Caretakers here after you have watched the film.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Whispering Miracles - BAASA Gauteng Workshop held 16 Nov 2013

View from Zanne's Small Studio
Who would not want to paint all day with such an inspirational view! Seven members of BAASA Gauteng plus one guest attended a one-day workshop at Zanne's Small Studio in Roodekrans, overlooking the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. The aim of the workshop was to shift us out of our comfort zones to paint bigger and looser or, as Zanne put it, to 'throw paint at paper'. (Zanne Small is current Chairman of the Watercolour Society.) Well she certainly managed to shift us completely out of our comfort zones with very different techniques to what we are accustomed.
See the nice clean sheets of paper.
 "No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did he would cease to be an artist." 
- Oscar Wilde. 

Challenge number one for us botanical artists, since that axiom didn't quite fit with what we have been told. Now our mantra was to be 'whispering miracles' and we had to learn to credit the viewer with some degree of intelligence to fill in the missing bits. "After all" said Zanne, "why spend a fat penny, when a thin penny will do" (according to her Scottish surrogate mother). So we started to learn that less is actually more and our new terminology would be 'lost edges', 'tonal linkages', 'fabricate', 'push back the colour', 'cabbages are ok' and 'don't control, let it go'. Well H-E-L-L-O........you're talking to botanical artists here - detail and reality is what we deal in.
Zanne explaining unequal negative corner space for composition.
We started off with 'Exploring the Vignette' - a 'vignette' is a painting that loses clarity as it vanishes towards the corners and sides. Composition, as in all painting, is paramount, but here we learned not to leave so much space around our painting and to make it touch in four places, one on each border, but not equally. (Another useful hint was how to make your own graphite carbon paper for tracing your drawing using a graphite stick on the back of tracing paper, then using cotton wool soaked in lighter fluid to smooth it out.)
Use wet washes and keep your working edge wet

Almost there - don't forget that less is more.
Zanne demonstrated how to paint loosely and gave us some wonderful advice on colour use, including how important it is to know your pigments to avoid making muddy colours, how to push back the colour around your focal point using complementary colour over your main colour and how to use a discordant colour sparingly to make your painting sing (so Opera Pink really was named for a reason). A whole workshop just on colour is needed here!
Cramming in as much as possible just before end of day.
I think Zanne bit off more than she could chew with us and, unfortunately, we only had time to do the vignette, as we all seemed to battle with this new way of painting. However, she tantalised us with an explanation of how the afternoon session - 'Painting with the Pour' - would have gone had we been able to work quicker. The feedback from all at the end of the day indicated that we had been somewhat challenged, which was really good for any artist's block, and that it had been a most enjoyable workshop. My disintegrated brain, for one, would have been totally blown had we gone further and I really look forward to another workshop some time in the not too distant future to finish the challenge. Thank you Zanne for sharing your expertise and your wonderful studio with us!

Photos and text: Angie Hill

Friday, 11 October 2013

South African Flowering Trees - a botanical adventure through history

Many books are written about trees, but few give a complete picture: what do they look like? Where do they come from? How do they grow? What are their uses for man, animals, birds and insects? How have their names changed over time?

South African Flowering Trees – a botanical adventure through history by Rob Wood (with 26 botanical plates by the Late Millicent Frean and line drawings by Sandie Burrows) will be released in December 2013 in four editions –
Collectors' Edition (boxed with a print of Erythrina lysistemon, numbered and limited to 20)
Subscribers' Edition (Numbered and limited to 30 copies)
Hardback Edition – at special pre-Launch price
Softback Edition – at special pre-Launch price

To reserve your edition, please complete the order form below or contact Print Matters directly for more information.


Friday, 20 September 2013

Jenny Phillips Workshop held in Gauteng during September

BAASA Gauteng was recently very privileged to have Jenny Phillips present a five-day workshop to its members. Jenny is recognised as one of the world's premier botanical artists and is the founding director of the Botanical Art School of Melbourne.

She has focused her drawing, watercolour skills and love of gardening on botanical art since 1971 and, in doing so, has developed her skill and knowledge to a remarkable level. Her ability to capture the essence, beauty and life of a plant, without compromising on botanical details, makes her work extremely collectable.

Jenny has been teaching Master Classes around the world since 1996 and is the recipient of the Celia Rosser Award - 2009 Botanicasia Exhibition in Melbourne, a Gold Medallist from The Australian National Print Awards 1998 and received The Royal Horticultural Society London Gold Award in 1993.

Ann Harris wrote about her experience of the workshop:

Jenny’s leaf Workshop started smoothly with her asking us to do the Pelargonium leaf in a new method, which in retrospect allowed her to assess our skills.

Thereafter she introduced us to a new method of applying paint that had us all hyperventilating.

We had to observe the leaf, wet thoroughly, and dive in with globs of premixed paint, re-arranging the paint whilst it was still wet.

This skill was adjusted and fine-tuned over the next five days on different leaves, without giving us time to wallow in any perceived non-achievement.
On day three, during a particularly testing time, where many had to be reminded to keep breathing, Jenny told us of an article that she had read on how chocolate stimulates ones creativity. A quick passing of the hat bought enough organic chocolate to set up a permanent chocolate bar at the end of the table that lasted for the remainder of the course.

We all loved the course and I have come away with an arsenal of new skills to incorporate into future paintings and which will cut my painting time by at least half.

Photos: Ann Harris, Ingrid Howes.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Congratulations to the Kirstenbosch Biennale 2013 Award and Medal Winners!

Congratulations to all the medal winners announced at the opening of the Kirstenbosch Biennale on Thursday evening.

Congratulations also to Fay Anderson who was awarded the Kirstenbosch Biennale Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the tremendous contribution she has made to South African botany and bringing awareness to our unique flora over the last 50 years. Quite an inspiration! Fay is also an Honorary Life Member of BAASA.

The medal winners are:
GOLD - Margaret de Villiers, Lynda de Wet, Wilna Eloff, Jenny Hyde-Johnston, Janet Snyman.
SILVER - Gillian Condy, Carol Reddick, Daleen Roodt.
BRONZE - Julie Ah-Fa, Kath Baker, Karen Comins, Alice Dean, Leigh-Ann Gale, Solly Gutman, Elbe Joubert, Willie Schlechter, Lisa Strachan.

Judging criteria:
The panel of judges considered work in all two-dimensional media, including watercolour, gouache, oil, acrylic, tempera, collage, original graphic works in pen, pencil, etching, engraving, linocuts, silkscreen and woodcut.
All four artworks submitted were considered as a whole, not just the “best” of the group. The works, however, needed to demonstrate a high level of competence in:
  • Botanical accuracy
  • Composition
  • Painting, drafting, technical execution
  • Creating an exhibit that has unity and aesthetic appeal (framing is important here)
  • Making a unique contribution to botanical art.
The catalogue can be downloaded from here, but please note that it is a 3.8Mb file.

The theme for the next Kirstenbosch Biennale in 2015 was announced and is 'Trees of Africa and Neighbouring Islands', so start painting now!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Kirstenbosch Botanical Art Biennale 2013 Opens

30 August 2013 - 9:00am - 15 September 2013 - 6:00pm

Entrance charge: Free entry
How to book: Booking not necessary
Event venue: Old Mutual Conference Centre

Kirstenbosch's prestigious Botanical Art Biennale is one of the high points of this Centenary year. This exhibition showcases top South African botanical artists as well as artists from different parts of the globe.

This year’s Biennale focuses on medicinal and traditional use plants of southern Africa. The symbiotic relationship between the plant and animal kingdoms and the plethora of uses of plants, highlight the vigilance required if the sustainability and long-term harvesting potential of these limited resources is to be ensured.

From fine monochrome pencil drawings to delicate watercolour, the media used by the artists range from copper etchings and scraperboard through to pastel, pen and ink.  Whatever the medium used, the ability of the artist to bring these plants to life in their truest form is remarkable.

International artists Kath Baker and Leigh-Ann Gale (UK), Suzana Souza (Brazil) and Suellen Perold (USA) add interest to the line up of exhibitors. Well known South African artists such as Eric Judd, Solly Gutman, Carol Reddick and Gillian Condy are joined by first time exhibitor Ann Kerr, while visitors will delight in the fine renditions from Jenny Hyde- Johnson, Jeanette Loedolff, Wilna Eloff and Lisa Strachen.

An additional highlight is the work of Cape based Margaret de Villiers, who recently won a gold medal and best on show at the annual Royal Horticultural Society’s Botanical Art show in London.

A buyers preview will be held on Thursday 29 August at 09h30.

To view the Exhibition Catalogue, see the two attachments below :
Kirstenbosch Biennale 2013 Catalogue - (Part 1)
Kirstenbosch Biennale 2013 Catalogue (Part 2)

Friday, 23 August 2013

Art Lovers Gallery Botanical Art Exhibition, Pretoria

Photo: Gill Condy
The evening of Tuesday 20th August saw the opening of the BAASA exhibition
at the Art Lovers Gallery, 189 Long Street, Waterkloof, Pretoria.

Photo: Gill Condy
The opening address was given by Werner Muller one of the Gallery owners. Fourteen of our Gauteng artists submitted work to make a very pleasing exhibit, clearly showing great technical skills and the strong personalities of each artist.
Photo: Gill Condy
Thank you to those who came to the opening. Sadly there was a very small turnout, but it is a very popular venue for the local residents who just pop in to see what is on show.

The exhibition closes on Tuesday 3rd September, so please encourage family and friends to visit.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Painting flowers nicely isn't enough

"Painting flowers nicely isn't enough. There's a clear and strong botanical science theme running through the stories of many of the new Gold Medal Winners. Dissection and the portrayal of the complete plant and life cycle should be high on the agenda of any aspiring Gold Medal winner."
Artist and writer Katherine Tyrrell: Interviews with 2013 RHS Botanical Art Gold Medal Winners
Cydonia oblonga(Quince)
By Franz Eugen Köhler,

Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
For more go to Katherine's 'Making a Mark' blog at http://makingamark.blogspot.mx/2013/08/botany-for-botanical-artists.html

Thursday, 18 July 2013

14th International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration

For those of you lucky enough to be in the USA between 27 September and 19 December 2013, you may want to visit this.

14th International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration

by ArtPlantae Today
Heath-leaved Banksia, Banksia ericifolia L.f. [Banksia ericifolia Linnaeus filius, Proteaceae], watercolor on paper by Julie Dagmar Nettleton (Australia), 2012, 38.5 x 57 cm, HI Art accession no. 8038, ©2012 Julie Dagmar Nettleton, All Rights Reserved.

14th International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA Sept. 27 - Dec. 19, 2013 Every three years the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation presents an exhibition of botanical art celebrating the work of contemporary botanical artists. This year forty-one artists from ten countries will take […]

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Welwitschia Show celebrates new publication and the "king of the desert"

from http://scenicsouth.co.za/2013/07/welwitschia-show-and-launch-of-book-by-dr-ernst-van-jaarsveld-and-uschi-pond-at-kirstenbosch/

As Kirstenbosch moves through its Centenary year one of the events set to be of huge interest is the "Welwitschia Show " which will be held in the Conservatory and the Old Mutual Conference Centre at Kirstenbosch from 19 to 21 July.

Known as the "king of the desert" the Welwitschia is an unusual plant and is uniquely African. It occurs only in Namibia and Angola and is also botanically unique in its physical structure and functionality - so much so that it is the only species within the genus 'Welwitschia' and again the only genus in the family Welwitschiaceae. This, the oldest plant in Africa and the national plant of Namibia was the reason for Professor Harold Pearson to come to South Africa; it was he who laid the foundation for the spectacular garden, Kirstenbosch, and it is his vision of this garden that we enjoy today.

In celebration of this a corner of the Conservatory has now been dedicated to this unusual plant and will be officially opened on the 19 July - another living reminder of the first Director of Kirstenbosch.
In addition a beautifully illustrated book, 'Uncrowned Monarch of the Namib - Welwitschia mirabilis' will be officially launched. This monograph on this unique African plant will be a delight for the book connoisseur, professional and amateur botanist alike, gardener and traveller.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Critique Session Feedback: BAASA Gauteng June 2013

Sally Townshend, Eileen Bass, Gill Condy, Helene Joubert (hidden), Fiona Manicom, Julie Ah-Fa and Sue Cochrane (lt to rt) in roundtable discussion. Photo: Ronelle Oosthuizen

A wonderful opportunity was made available on 08 June for Gauteng members to take their work for a feedback session before submitting their scans to Kirstenbosch for the Biennale. Work varied from unfinished paintings to miniature drawings to completed works and it was good to see the diversity. Gill Condy, our chairman and resident artist at SANBI, was at hand to offer advice with any problems. Everyone was encouraged to give critique in this non-threatening forum and some new and refreshing comments were offered. It was a useful session for everyone concerned - even Gill had it pointed out to her that she had an unfinished leaf on one of her Kirstenbosch submissions.

However, this meeting was not only for artists who were painting for Kirstenbosch, but for any artist who had work in progress and wanted feedback, as well as those who didn't have a painting at all, but wanted to participate and see other people's work. It was also an ideal opportunity for those who are not lucky enough to be able to attend the Biennale to get to see some Biennale paintings close up.

Photo: Ronelle Oosthuizen
Do remember that any of our meetings and workshops can be used to bring along any work you are busy with if you wish to get help and advice from fellow artists - it is always good to have a fresh view from someone else when one has been very close to a project for a while. Other people often see things we overlook or don't notice and can give some really helpful feedback.

Thank you to Sue Cochrane for once again opening up her home and offering the use of her dining room table, as well as to those members who participated in the forum.