Art had always interested me and had been a hobby throughout my working life. ‘Doodling’ at meetings and paintings flowers when on holiday was the extent of my active participation until 2008.
Botanical art began on a Tuesday evening at RBGE, Edinburgh in 2008/9, with Alicia Salazar who helped me to produce a respectable watercolour painting of the black tipped bud of a branch from Fraxinus excelsior – the ash tree. Realising that I had a long way to go to learn how to draw plants and then use watercolours to paint flowers, I returned in 2011/12 to undertake two further introductory courses in the evenings with Sharon Bradley. That led me into an intermediate day class on a Wednesday morning with Louise Olley and Alicia. Great encouragement came from friends and family and when I attended an RBGE ‘open evenings’ I was persuaded by Sharon, Jacqui Pestell and Lizzie Sanders that I could do the Diploma programme. I started in earnest in September 2012 and achieved my Diploma in Botanical Illustration in 2014. It was an enjoyable, but very steep learning curve!
For my final project, I completed five portfolios and plant portraits that were growing in the RBGE Chinese hillside and in other parts of the garden. All had been introduced to the garden by plant hunters who travelled to China to explore, discover, collect and to return their finds to our botanical gardens. They are popular plants and can be found in many of our formal and home gardens. Ensuring that plants were available for painting has also helped me to develop my horticultural skills and I now have some growing in my own garden.
I continue to develop my botanical art knowledge and skills with the help of Fiona Strickland and Robert McNeill.