Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Jeanette Loedolff awarded Cythna Letty Medal

Jeanette with her Cythna Letty Medal
Jeanette Loedolff has recently been awarded the Botanical Society’s prestigious Cythna Letty Medal. BAASA Western Cape is so very proud of her.

The Medal is awarded to someone who has made a significant contribution to the promotion of the South African Flora through the medium of published botanical illustrations, whether line drawings or paintings. The award is named after Cythna Letty, who is regarded as a doyenne of South African Botanical Art, and on her death in 1985 the Botanical Society decided to commemorate her by instigating the Cythna Letty Medal in its Honours and Awards programme.

There are some interesting parallels between the lives of Cythna and Jeanette.

Both were born in the old Transvaal, and schooled at Pretoria. Neither had any formal art or botanical art training, and neither began their careers doing botanical art. Cythna started off as a teacher and nurse, later working as artist at the Veterinary division at Onderstepoort illustrating animal organs. Jeanette obtained a BSc in Zoology and Entomolgy and after this worked in the Dept of Agriculture’s Plant Protection Unit illustrating insects.

Both Cythna and Jeanette took time off for several years to raise families. Cythna subsequently joined the National Herbarium in Pretoria to begin her life’s work of plant paintings and sketches. Jeanette in turn became employed as plant illustrator for the NBI (now SANBI) here in Cape Town. Both carried on their art work after retirement. And both were destined to become prime botanical artists.

Self – taught, Jeanette has used water colour as well as coloured pencil as her art medium. It was only towards the end of her career and into retirement that she was able to attend botanical art master classes. Jeanette’s contribution to the promotion of the South African Flora through her work has been highly significant. She has produced a large range and number of plant paintings and drawings that have been used in scientific publications. Jeanette’s works have also been used in popular publications, in children’s books, and on many informative story boards in Kirstenbosch, the Harold Porter and Worcester Botanical Gardens. Perhaps Jeanette’s most impressive legacy rests in the wonderful poster series that she created for school environmental education. The idea of doing this, as well as the execution of the art work, is entirely to Jeanette’s credit. She painted exquisite scenes of the birds and plants within their natural environments of SA’s different biomes. Ten such posters were created, mass produced by the Botanical Society, and distributed in their thousands to children. What a wonderful, ongoing legacy.

Congratulations, Jeanette, on this well-deserved recognition.

Penny Mustart
November 2014 

Jeanette Loedolff teaches BAASA WC members every Tuesday morning at Molteno Library:
"We are so thrilled for her as she is a constant and giving person who is always there on Tuesdays with loads of advice, tips and stories of birds and plants and makes our Tuesdays so inspirational," says Wendy Burchell.

Jeanette is also an Honorary Life Member of BAASA.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Exact Imagination: 300 years of botanical art - ends this Saturday!

If you haven't seen this exhibition yet do yourself a favour and get there before it ends this Saturday. This is a unique opportunity to view works that are not usually available for public viewing and it really is a treat.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Feel Inspired - ASBA's 17th Annual Exhibition Artwork & Artists' Stories

Catalog cover image: Annie Patterson, Cynara cardunculus, Cardoon © 2014

The American Society of Botanical Artist’s 17th Annual International Exhibition at The Horticultural Society of New York opened in September, 2014. The jurors met in April to select 42 artworks out of 215 submissions from around the US, and from Australia, Canada, France, Israel, Japan and the UK. To view the artwork and read the artists' stories go to ASBA Exhibition website and don't forget to click on 'The Artists' and 'The Art' tabs.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

A different kind of 'botanical' art

Omid Asadi created this work with carving and cutting techniques on actual fallen leaves using a craft knife and a needle.

Leaf's Mind



Che Guevara





John Lennon

Simorgh (phoenix)

Old Hand

Persian Cheetah

Nature's Scream

Thursday, 23 October 2014

RIP Sue Cochrane

It is with great sadness that we share the devastating news that Sue Cochrane passed away unexpectedly around 02:00 this morning, 23.10.14. It is hard to believe the news.

Sue has been such a vital, vibrant member of the BAASA Gauteng community for the past ten years. She has been a committee member, offered her home for meetings, attended almost every course we ever ran, participated in our exhibitions and offered unwavering support to the committee. She has left a large gap in our hearts.

Sue was born in Scotland and grew up in the UK on a farm with a very large English garden. This is where she developed her passion for gardening. She was always growing seeds and cuttings at home and loved taking us around their beautiful garden in Bryanston. As a child she was encouraged to draw and paint, which led her to go to the Central School of Art and Craft studying Illustration, Commercial and Fine Art for a year. She continued to St Martin’s School of Art for a year of Fine Art followed by 3 years in Fashion Design. In 1966 Sue came out to South Africa and had a variety of jobs from fashion buyer and designer for some big companies, to starting a waste disposal company, cooking for an ad and film agency for six years, being librarian for wildlife photographer Peter Johnston to spending years doing animal and house portraits, murals and Tromp l’oeil. She saw botanical art as a natural progression and felt privileged to have studied under several of the world’s best botanical artists. We all were aware of the stunning porcelain dinner service that she decorated.

Sue wrote in her CV for the World Orchid Conference Exhibition:  "I was always mad about gardening and growing things! I still grow plants from seed and cuttings, it helps if you want to paint them. I have always drawn and painted since I was little. I ended up going to the Central School of Art in London in the 60s where I studied Fine Art, Commercial Art and Illustration, and St Martin’s School of Art, to continue my studies. After five years I came out to South Africa in 1966 and started painting detailed murals that took forever as they were very detailed. Painting Botanical works naturally followed on and I have now painted in this genre for about 15 years. I have exhibited at Galleries and Exhibitions and have won a medal at Kirstenbosch every time I have exhibited. I have been very lucky to study under several of the world’s best botanical artists. I love what I do and it gives me immeasurable fun and joy."

Sue’s friendship, laughter, encouragement, loyalty and support for those of us in BAASA will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Iain, her two children, mother and her huge circle of friends. May she rest in peace.

Sue at the July BAASA Gauteng meeting

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Botanical Art at the Cavern with Gill Condy & Elsa Pooley 27 Oct – 02 Nov 2014

A unique opportunity to explore the wonderful mountain plants and to spend time observing and illustrating them.

Gillian Condy and Elsa Pooley combine their talents as botanical artists and author of wild flower and tree field guides to provide a memorable botanical art course in the mountains. With excellent meals and teas provided, the participants are free to concentrate on their work and enjoy guided walks with Elsa.

Plant material is easily sourced from the Cavern gardens and surrounding mountains. You will enjoy the famous hospitality of The Cavern, a resort hotel set in a magnificent valley adjoining Royal Natal National Park in the northern Drakensberg. The beautiful thatched buildings are set in colourful gardens, close to wonderful walks in the mountain grassland and forests, along streams and rivers.

Whether you are a beginner or an established botanical artist, attending the course will inform and inspire you. You will have uninterrupted time to work on your paintings, leaving unfinished work in the studio overnight. Art materials need to be supplied by the artists (you will receive a list once you have booked). Additional supplies will be available at the course.

For more info:
To book:

Monday, 13 October 2014

Plants: from roots to riches - a BBC Radio 4 podcast

In this BBC Radio 4 podcast series Kathy Willis focuses on the major breakthroughs in botanical knowledge over the past 250 years as seen through the lens of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. What soon emerges in the Plants: From Roots to Riches story is that the first plant scientists were genuine pioneers. Some, of course, found themselves barking up the wrong tree, or even scraping at the wrong bark. But the real characters are the plants themselves, from the orchid that looks like a bee to the waterlily big enough to sit a child on. Read more on the BBC blog page or download the series here.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

New 85 000ha reserve proclaimed in Western Cape

Monilaria chrysoleuca Photo: WWF
A new nature reserve – the first in 20 years in the Western Cape – has been declared across 85 000ha of the Succulent Karoo region.

View article

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Botanical Artist Drawing Course with Angela Beaumont 15 - 16 November, Durban Botanic Gardens

Date: 15 and 16 November 2014
Venue: Durban Botanic Gardens – Discovery Room
Time: 09h00 - 15h00 each day
Cost: R320 for BAASA members and R450 for non-members
RSVP: Anyone wishing to attend please contact Lynne Griffin on 0836305351.

Materials to bring:
  • drawing paper (rough working, not good quality)
  • pencils (HB, 2B, 3B, 4B)
  • ruler
  • eraser
  • pencil sharpener
  • drawing compass and/or dividers
  • protractor (i.e. hemisphere with 180 degrees of angles)
  • hand lens or magnifying glass
  • florist's oasis to support plant material
  • any floral plant material for which participants would like help with interpreting the structure.

Topics to be covered:
  • drawing a flower cylinder from different angles (e.g. Agapanthus or lily flower)
  • how to draw a complex globe head of flowers - starting with a few flowered head
  • drawing buds- understanding how petals are folded in a bud
  • foreshortening
  • depending on availability, Angela can help with understanding weird situations like Euphorbia inflorescence, numbers of stamens and petals, how to draw Madagascan periwinkle (Catharanthus) flower with 5 petals, Lamiaceae (mint family) flowers, understanding Iris and Gladiolus flowers, flowers in the pea family (3 subfamilies covered).

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

World Orchid Conference Botanical Art Exhibition 2014

Just some of the artwork on exhibition
Gold Medal Winner Jenny Hyde-Johnson (South Africa)
Silver Medal Winner Deborah Lambkin (Ireland)
Bronze Medal Winner Daleen Roodt (South Africa)
Bronze Medal Winner Sue Wickison (New Zealand)
Merit Award Janet Snyman (South Africa)
Merit Award Gillian Condy (South Africa)
List of Awards:

Gold medal
Jenny Hyde-Johnson (South Africa) Eulophia zeyheri

Silver medals
Deborah Lambkin (Ireland) RHS Award Orchids
Chan Yoke Heng (Malaysia) Oncidium Golden

Bronze medals
Daleen Roodt (South Africa) Eulophia zeyheri
Beverly Allen (Australia) Stanhopea tigrina
Sue Wickison (New Zealand) Odontoglossum harrianum

Merit Awards
Karen Comins (South Africa) Paphiopedilum (rothschildianum x parishii)
Willie Schlechter (South Africa) Dry Orchid Flowers
Janet Snyman (South Africa) Phalaenopsis Nobby’s Amy
Sue Williams (England) Paphiopedilum callosum ‘Black Jack’
Sue Williams (England) Zen II, white Phalaenopsis and black bamboo
Gillian Condy (South Africa) Mystacidium villosa

Monday, 25 August 2014

Drawing from nature BAASA Gauteng outing - 23 August 2014

A crisp, cold August day had 14 BAASA Gauteng members visiting Jenny Hyde-Johnson in the Cradle of Humankind to listen to her stories about how she went about planning her paintings for past Kirstenbosch Biennales. The discussion (detailed below) was to be followed by sketching in the veld from which Jenny draws her inspiration for her botanical work. Let me hasten to add that Jenny is a three times gold medal winner at Kirstenbosch so we were eager to sit at her feet and learn some of her secrets.

In the veld we visited a lovely sinkhole that is very characteristic of the dolomitic area. The beautiful trees surrounding the sinkhole and protected within it included an Acokanthera and an impressive Olea growing out of the sidewall of the sinkhole itself.

Looking down the sinkhole
New life emerging

From there we went to find some delicate pink Harveya growing hidden amongst the grass on a slope (these are normally cream coloured, so the pink ones added a frisson of excitement), which also had numerous Ficus trees clinging to rocks with their new red foliage adding colour to the winter browns.
Pink Harveya
New leaves - Ficus ingens

Finally Jenny took us to a spot overlooking a lovely valley with the rolling hills all around and the Magaliesberg mountains forming a backdrop in the distance. What a peaceful place to sit and do some meditative sketching. It was over all too soon.
Meditative sketching

Back: Sue Cochrane, Angie Hill, Jenny H-J, Gill Condy, Helene Joubert, Karyn Bell
Front: Lucia Hickman, Isabelita van Zyl, Annatjie Greyling
Sketching in the veld (not in photo): Jocelyn Colombick, Brenda Shafir, Gwenda Caplan
Photos: Ingrid Howes & Angie Hill

Honorary Life Membership of BAASA Awarded to Jean Powell

We are proud to announce that Jean Powell has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of BAASA for the role that she has played in tirelessly promoting this art form and her generosity of time in encouraging and helping students and botanical artists in KwaZulu Natal.

Jean Powell

Jean has been the inspirational backbone of BAASA KZN since it was established in the late 1990s and has tirelessly collated the workshops in this region for many years. Less well known to us is her involvement with other artist groups in KZN: she has been an active committee member of the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Artists (KZNSA), closely involved with the Friends of the Durban Art Gallery and other bodies, and has taught and helped countless young people to develop their skills and talents. Her love of plants can also be seen in her own original (non-botanical) artworks on paper and glass.
Jean Powell receiving her certificate from Elsa Pooley

After studying architecture and design in Britain, Jean worked in Kenya before coming to South Africa, where she taught at the University College for Indians on Salisbury Island, Durban. She went on to teach textile design at the University of Durban Westville, before moving to the then Natal Technical College. She is one of a group of dedicated artists who developed the talents of various communities in Natal under trying circumstances.

Jean with some of the KZN Artists

Jean has been an indefatigable proponent of botanical art and has never flagged in her support and efforts to find ways to display this art form to the public. She has taken a keen interest in botanical art since the late 1960s and 1970s when she was involved in NSA (Natal Society of Artists) botanical art exhibitions. She found ways to introduce botanical art to her students once BAASA was established and created a competition to encourage them to participate in the BAASA annual exhibitions. Many of her past students have become BAASA members and botanical artists, a tribute to her influence and teaching.

We are honoured to have Jean as a Life Member of BAASA.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Which pencil to use?

An informative post on types of pencils to use from Dianne Sutherland's blog.

Posted: 03 Aug 2014 08:52 AM PDT
Continuing from the last blog post I'm still working with graphite, this time for the Nature Sketchbook Exchange Project. It seems appropriate to do a bit more than just drawing a picture because it's a sketchbook project, so over the last couple of days I've been experimenting with a few different pencils brands.

Sketchbook pages, experimenting with different brands of pencil
There are a number of pencils to choose from, all of which are suitable for botanical read more go to Dianne's blog at

And don't forget to check our Resources page for more links to useful websites.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

SBA 2015 - In Pursuit of Plants Exhibition

The mixed media artwork above is titled 'Strelitzia nicolai' by Linda Hampson SBA (a past BAASA member).

The next London exhibition of the Society will be held from 17 to 25 April 2015 with a receiving day of 23 February.

Intrepid plant hunters, imaginative plant breeders, avid gardeners, keepers of national plant collections, physicians reviving medical lost knowledge, innovative entrepreneurs, botanical artists, hungry humans (and animals, birds, butterflies and insects): they are all In Pursuit of Plants.

Secrets on capturing the character of trees - Sarah Simblet

Secrets on capturing the character of trees
Learn the secrets of capturing the character of trees from this video interview with artist Sarah Simblet, illustrator of 'The New Sylva', talking to Jacqui Pestell at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Monday, 21 July 2014


A retrospective exhibition for Jean Powell, who has been a stalwart member of BAASA in the KZN region since its inception.

Botanical Artists Association of Southern Africa Gauteng Region