A little note on the origins of my flower-painting journey

Flora of Malaysia


In the mid-eighties, I was lucky enough to spend four years in Malaysia with my family.  At this time, I was totally absorbed with botanical watercolours and was delighted to discover the rich flora of the tropics. 

After a year or so of painting my new garden finds, I was inspired to take my work further and had in the back of my mind a dream to make a book of paintings depicting this fascinatingly rich and diverse material.  Serendipitously, I came across a small flyer advertising a lecture given by one Dr. David. T. Jones, a professor of botany at the university.  The lecture was on his focus of interest, a particular species of lime, and I went along in the full realisation that I’d be totally out of my depth but with one aim, to speak to him.  The lecture hall was full of students and, I got a lot of quizzical looks. I have to admit the subject matter went largely over my head, peppered as it was with botany jargon and assumptions of knowledge.  As for Dr. Jones, I had in my mind a bearded serious man of sixty plus years, complete with bow-tie and waistcoat.  I was quite surprised to find a thirty-something Californian with a relaxed presence and a wicked sense of humour.  I tentatively approached him at the end of the lecture and said I had an idea I wanted to run by him.  The next day we met and I pitched my concept of a coffee table book, illustrating the country’s beautiful plants – all I needed was some expert text.  He liked the idea. We met with Oxford University Press and their wonderful editor was very welcoming and enthusiastic about the project.  We signed contracts and work commenced. 

Over the next two years I worked furiously on the project, painting in the spare bedroom when family life allowed.  Some of my subject matter was available in gardens but most had to be strategically sought out.  I painted in ditches, mangroves, gardens and jungles.  Occassionally, I was lucky enough to accompany David’s team of botanists on a research trip into the virgin rainforest.  It was stunningly beautiful but quite nerve-wracking for a snake-phobic Brit!  When this wasn’t possible the plants would come to me.  The sound of the clapped-out botany department’s van trundling up my drive would see me scrabbling to make space in the fridge for more material. 

I spent one night painting a flower which only every flowers after dark, the aptly named Queen of the night.  I had one chance only as it was a year-long wait for the flower and it was all over by dawn.  Another memorable paint was the stinking  Amorphophallus,  whose reputation for emitting the worst smell imaginable was no exaggeration. 

Once the paintings were scanned for the book, I was able to hold an exhibition of the originals (opened by the Minister for Culture) which was a sell-out success.  Win, win.   

The culmination of all this hard work was a beautiful book of which I am very  proud.  Sadly, it being a rather niche subject and expensive product, after a successful print run it has now been discontinued.

How I’m using the latest lockdown.

Hi everyone,

Long time, no post. Since my last daily painting post, a long time ago now, I haven’t really been writing to you much. I’m sure, if you’re interested, you’ll have been following my monthly newsletter (click if you’d like to sign up) instead but I thought I might resurrect my blog with occassional information for you and tips for artists.

So let’s kick off with how I’ve been working through this 2021 lockdown so far. Well, as my father-in-law is very ill, I’ve been in his home town of Kirkby Lonsdale, in our care bubble. Out of the comfort of my studio, I’ve been embracing ‘how to work with what you’ve got’. My late mother-in-law was a collector, boy, was she a collector! Almost worse than me! She has two shelved alcoves full of china (and much more elsewhere!) and I’ve found that one of the shelves, adjacent to a north light window in the dining room, casts a rather gorgeous shadow so I’ve enlisted it as my set-up stage. I scour the house for interesting bits and nip down to the town florist for my ‘click and collect’ pre-ordered bounty. I put on the radio and I’m away. I’ve been in my January experimental zone, trying hard to loosen up and exploring greys and whites. It’s so good to make time to really study stuff.

All the paintings made in this period to-date are now on my website. I’m sure I’ll be adding to them if these restrictions carry on – let’s hope not for too long. If you’d like to see them you can click here.

I hope you are all coping with all the restrictions – it’s grim for so many people. If you are a home-schooling parent, I take my hat off to you and wish you all the best. You’re doing brilliantly, don’t be a self-critic, you didn’t sign up for it and you’re doing the best you can. Give yourself a pat on the back instead.

Stay safe, healthy and happy. x


Ranunculus and tea-set on shelf

Clementines and baubles

Hi everyone, it’s been a while I know.  Busy, busy.

I did this quick little oil sketch last week before the clementines leave the shops and the baubles go back in the attic.  I’ve been doing a few new Christmas card images for next year – how organised is that?!

I also wanted to tell you about the workshop I’m running in April.  It’s a three-day boot camp where we really get to grips with oil painting/still life.  Do email me back if you’d like more information or go to my website https://pennygerman.com/workshops/.   There are only a few places left so don’t delay.  If you’d like a slightly more advanced workshop, I’ll be running ‘Loosen up in oils – still life’ as a one-day workshop in June – just waiting for the date to be agreed.  This is for people who already paint but find their work tightening up too much – something I struggled with for a long time.  If that’s not enough for you, there’s my week-long painting holiday on the Canal du Midi in the south of France in September where we’ll be painting en plein air with a little still life thrown in if there’s inclement weather at all.  Do let me know if you’d like more information.

20x20cm oil on canvasboard

20x20cm oil on canvas board

Click here to purchase




Hydrangea in blue vase

I’m just packing up to fly home from Cyprus after a few days painting…….glorious.  I thought I’d just post this as I haven’t blogged for a while.  This was the very last of my lovely autumnal hydrangeas.  After this, they go a bit too red and a little bit crispy but I’ve been following @arthurparkinson on Instagram and he shows how to keep them going for longer.  Roll on next year.

Lots of fun in Cyprus but if you’d like to hear or see more, it’s best to sign up for my newsletter which is no doubt going to be late this month!!

20x20cm oil on canvasboard


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Damsons in a coffee cup

I’ve been on something of a damson odyssey lately.  Every time I think I’ll paint something else, I spot them fallen on the lane in our village when I’m walking the dog.  I just get seduced by that blue bloom and I’m hooked.  Oh go on then, just one more.  Bubba looks at me with disdain.

Thank you to all those who came to see me when I had Open Studios, it was lovely to meet you and/or see you again and I was overwhelmed by the sales – it makes me think I’m doing something right and enables me to keep doing what I love. If you’d like a more newsy posting, do sign up for my monthly newsletter which you can do here 

So now, I think we’ve seen the last of those damsons along with pretty much everything else Mother Nature has on offer for the autumn but my Cafe au Lait dahlias are still going strong so I might be tempted.  Anyway, here’s possibly the last damson painting for 2019 but never say never right??


Click here to purchase


Hi there, you’ll have to excuse the sporadic blogging.  I’ve been very busy lately and out and about painting.  If you’d like to read about it, and in fact if you’d like to hear from me more often (but not too often), my monthly newsletter is probably your best bet.  You can sign up here and all usual privacy safeguards apply.  I tend to share news, tips AND offers i.e. sale works.

I wanted to let you know about my open studio next week.  I’ll be opening my studio and home to all comers who’d like to see my work and/or have a coffee and a chat.  Paintings, prints, cards and Christmas cards will be on sale and there’ll be some veritable bargains in the sale box.

This week, I’ve been painting damsons whilst they are still around.  I love their blue colour and the bloom on their skins.  Bubba and I go to fetch them in the mornings as they drop onto the lane from over-hanging trees and we have to be quick in picking them up before any cars come down the lane and splat them.  Sadly, Bubba doesn’t quite appreciate the urgency in the mission and likes to take his time, leaving little messages for his friends on every bush en route.

Here’s one I made earlier:


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Cherries and spotty jug


Hi there.  I’m having a bit of an admin day today as a) I’m just back from Aldeburgh and am sooo tired especially after yesterday’s heat and b) I’ve had my nails done!  It doesn’t happen very often and white spirit and nail polish are not a great combo.  Professional or what?

Aldeburgh was great fun and I said adieu to several of my favourite paintings so that’ll be me back to the drawing board next week.  The trouble with Aldeburgh is there are just sooooo many nice things to eat, it’s a job to hold back!  I didn’t.

I’ve got a few weeks exhibition free now so maybe time to restock the galleries and perhaps even do battle with the weeds in the garden which just seem to let out their rallying cry whenever I go away.  I have to say, they’re the victors.

Here’s a little cream and cherries, done at Childwickbury Arts Fair last week and has a summery theme.

cherries and spotty jug 9454

20x20cm oil on canvasboard

Click here to purchase

Beaujolais Sweetpeas

After a long radio-silence, I thought I’d kick off your weekend by popping into your inbox and saying hello. Blogging has taken a back seat lately as I’ve been busy finishing gallery work (and going on holiday if I’m honest!). Spent a fabulous week in Kefalonia which was the most stunning setting and do you think I brought my paints? Of course not so I’ll just have to go back. I came home to get set for Childwickbury Arts Fair last weekend which was fabulous fun as always and I’d like to welcome all my new readers and thank you for trusting me with your email address! We never give out your details to third parties and you can unsubscribe any time you get fed up with my drivel. Scroll down for photos.
Next week I’ll be in Aldeburgh with my good friend and all round amazing artist Lesley Dabson. We’ll be hanging out at the Aldeburgh Gallery from 18th-24th or if you happen to be there, you might catch us out painting on the beach. If you’re around, do pop in and see us. I’ve been painting the stinkiest of sardines this week on a seaside them in readiness. Eeeuch!
That’s all for now. Here’s a little sketch I did whilst at Childwickbury. My garden is full of these beauties.

20x20cm oil on canvasboard

Click here to purchase

It’s all happening!

Hi everyone,
It seems ages since I posted last but such a lot has been happening that I haven’t really had time. I’ve had a holiday to Greece which was stunningly beautiful and a paint out at Flatford Mill with the Brit Plein-air group which was great fun. It was an occassion to meet old friends and make new ones and I made paintings of the iconic Willy Lot’s cottage as well as a door (yep, really!) and some cows (yep…….I have some in the field behind my back garden but went all the way to Flatford to paint some??).
I’ve been doing a few oil sketches lately to take with me to the next couple of events I’ll be in including……..
this coming weekend, Childwickbury Art Fair. http://childwickburyarts.com/. Always a great weekend with plenty of great art, wonderful food, music and happy people so 5-7th I’ll be there demonstrating and would love to catch up if you’re around.
After that, I’ll be exhibiting at the Aldeburgh Gallery with my old pal and talented artist Lesley Dabson from 18th-24th July. We’d love to see you if you’re in the area. Leave your bucket and spade on the beach and pop up and see us.
After that, I’m going to have a little downtime. I say that but of course I’ll be painting as at this time of year, nature’s bounty makes me a little restless.
Catch you next time. Enjoy the weather – here’s a taste of what’s in my garden at the moment, and plenty of them!
20x20 oil on gessoboard

Wollerton Old Hall

I’m back in the studio after a lengthy but enjoyable trip to the USA. It was great fun, being ‘Granny’ and the weather was fabulous for the most part. I did end up regretting not taking my paints but……….next time.

So here I am trying to get back into the swing and fending off the jetlag. I thought I’d start with a study of this lovely rose in my garden since I’ll be painting them once they’re out in full force.

wollerton old hall, rose, oil sketch

Wollerton Old Hall 8″x8″ oil on gessoboard

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This afternoon, I’m gathering work together for an art event this weekend. It’s called Art in the Countryside and
it’s taking place in Newton Purcell, Bucks. Let me know if you are in the area and would like to go.
Other things I’m busy with…….finishing off a painting for the Chelsea Art Society – hand in on Monday so cutting it a little fine. Sorting out my next workshop which will be in November. Getting work ready for Childwickbury Art Fair (July 5-7th) and an exhibition with my painting pal Lesley Dabson in Aldeburgh (July 17-23rd). So you see, I’m not idling my time away. The garden is a jungle and the house is a tip but hey-ho……..painting comes first.

Have a wonderful, if soggy weekend.