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Society of Botanical Artists Strathmore Bursary

Walking into the Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition which opens on Friday 15th April 2016, you are greeted by a stunning swathe of colourful and creative botanical works of art.

You continue to walk through the exhibition and it opens out to expansive and well lit walls hung with even more wonderful botanical images. The standard and quality of the paintings, drawings and prints is incredibly high and totally inspiring to artists (and buyers!). We are proud to support the Society of Botanical Artists with our Strathmore Artist Papers Bursary for Work of Colour, an annual support to an artist's creative career.  Focussing on composition our criteria included Form (layout and composition), Subject (studying how the subject complements the whole picture), Imparting information (does it educate in some way), Feeling (is the picture emotive in some way), Personal preference (subjective view).

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Strathmore judging society of botanical artists photo by vanessa champion 3Strathmore judging society of botanical artists photo by vanessa champion 21The winner will be announced at the exhibition. But some special mentions and highlights are worth mentioning here.


There is a “wall of fruits” where sit Sally Bond’s blackberries and Linda Warner Constantino’s big red luscious Strawberry.

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Billy Showell’s work is showcased in a dynamic abundance on the front cover of the catalogue and promotional materials, and she is also featured in the video on the SBA website, worth a look Make sure you also seek out her “Seaweed Design” in watercolour and graphite which tadpole themselves across the large scale paper and are accompanied by a little starfish near her signature flourish, the detail of which makes the most delightful feature. 





Worth looking out is some interesting work on different media, for instance Margaret Fitzpatrick’s gentle studies on parchment.

Sharon Fox’s watercolours Dried Pineapple and Young Cardoon deserve a special mention, do have a look at the detail and colouring. The dried textures of the leaves are just superb.

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For composition and colour, the four playing card symbols of Gillian French also warrant a special mention.



We loved the delicacy of Yvonne Collard’s “Spring arrived all at once” and also the unusual view and sympathetic rendering of the Hellebores of Rita Featherstone.






The winner however is Cheryl Wren's "Flowers of the Summer Moon" which is a gorgeous roundel of delicate white studies against the softest duck-egg blue background, like a star-dome of intricacy and innocence. The universe of flower heads, detailed with tiny strokes of colour which focusses the eye on the study of the structure of each petal.

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If you love Italy and wine, the succulence and juicy bounce of each grape powdered with that characteristic light dust that mantle grapes is beautifully depicted by Liz Shippam.


The unusual “Chilli fiesta” of Cheryl Fountain, two pieces of paper mounted side by side in one frame is not only unusual it is almost hedonistic in it’s fiery red and orange suggestion of heat and variety.


One of the main things which stuck me was the detail and I can only imagine how long each piece takes the artists. The detail, precision and knowledge that each artist shows in their representations of flowers, fruit and vegetation deserves such respect (and purchase!).




On one of Sue Wickison’s watercolours she actually writes that there are 3,000 seed heads, that’s a lot of patience! Especially when one studies the painting and sees the detail afforded each one.

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Susan Christopher-Coulson’s gorgeous shadow effect on her studies seem to make the “Sweetheart cherries”, and “Autumn Blaze” in coloured pencil simply sit 3D in front of you.


If you manage to make it to the exhibition make sure you vote for the people’s choice and pick up a catalogue, as the cover and interior illustrations are unquestionably magnificent. 


The SBA run a Distance Leaning Diploma Course where, alongside a sketchbook you keep throughout the course, you also complete twelve assignments and final diploma work. Each year the Course Director organises two optional week-long residential courses in Snowdonia. AS a student on the course you are also entitled to a special category of membership for the full 27 months of the course. Simon Williams, Course Director, recommends our illustration boards “Strathmore illustration board’s surface responds well to both wet into wet and dry brush techniques which together bring out the best in botanical painting. It handles watercolour, gouache or acryl gouache on the Wet Media surface brilliantly too.”

For more details on this, their publications and exhibitions please visit their website on or call 01747 825718.


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