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Botanical happiness

Botanical art can be a solitary pursuit. A lot of the time, it’s just you alone in the studio with your plant and your paints, and a gentle stream of creative thoughts going through your mind.

However, after months of hard work, it’s finally time to lay down those brushes, dust off the party dress and have a bit of fun! 
May has arrived with a dizzying whirl of exhibitions and events, and a chance to catch up with all my amazingly talented botanical friends!
 Eidhneán by Shevaun Doherty
The party season kicked off with the opening of Aibítir: The Irish Alphabet in Botanical Art at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin,  the inaugural exhibition of the newly formed ISBA. 
I was thrilled to have my painting included. I had been asked to illustrate Hedera hibernica, a plant that I had really never paid much attention to before, but which I grew to like and admire. I blogged about my ivy studies here. As well as the finished painting we were asked to submit any preparatory sketches, and I was really chuffed to find that my sketches had been given a glass box of their own!!
What a surprise!
Detail of some of the ivy studies
 It was wonderful to catch up with old friends, share in their excitement and to see the artwork. The highlight of the evening was meeting Dr Shirley Sherwood, who signed my catalogue and talked to me about her interest in botanical art. The exhibition runs until May 25th, with daily demonstrations by participating artists.
A few days later I found myself travelling down to the beautiful Burtown House with a couple of botanical artist friends, Elizabeth Prendergast and Yanny Petters. Burtown House is the family home of the late Wendy Walsh,Ireland’s best known botanical artist, and her family are keen to continue her artistic legacy by encouraging artists to visit and paint in the beautiful gardens. 
 A portrait of the late Wendy Walsh by her daughter Lesley Fennell
They have a nice little gallery in the house with paintings by Wendy Walsh, her daughter Lesley Fennell and other contemporary botanical artists. We dropped down new paintings for their summer exhibition, had a really delicious lunch in the cafe and then settled into Wendy’s beautiful studio to sketch and chat. Bliss!
Liz and Yanny

Quick bluebell sketches
Finally, the highlight of my botanical year… it was off to London to visit the

I was thrilled to discover that all five of my paintings were included. The exhibition was packed to the brim, and the atmosphere was electric with excitement. The artwork was extremely impressive and I really liked how the exhibition had been carefully thought out in terms of colour, style and habitat. Mine were in the tropical section. 
Five on the wall!
Even the catalogue was colour co-ordinated! Here is the page with my painting of fresh dates
The most enjoyable part of the day was meeting up with all my friends, both old and new. It’s wonderful being in the company of like-minded people… they inspire and encourage you, share the excitement and the dreams and above all keep you motivated.
After the exhibition we all went out to dinner and the conversations and merriment continued until late in the evening. Thanks to an inspired “art swap”, I left with a bag full of new paints, pens and paper to play with, and my mind buzzing with new ideas.
Gifts to keep me inspired! Thank you!! 
The final exhibition of the week was in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew Gardens, 
This really is a fabulous exhibition… a superb collection of botanical art in a truly inspiring gallery that should be on any botanical artist’s list of places to visit. I was delighted to see two of Yanny’s glass paintings there, two jewels in a hall of treasures. It was hard to pick a favourite amongst such great work.
An Irish meadow by Yanny Petters 
The best thing about going to something like this with other artists is that you get to see things in a different way. You learn new things and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the disciplines involved. We spend ages poring over each painting, discussing what we liked, what we felt worked, what we would like to try, and came away feeling invigorated and excited about the future.
Next year’s SBA exhibition- definitely something to get excited about!
It’s time once more to return to the quiet of my studio. 
Life is good.

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