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


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:


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

Click here to purchase

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.


Hi everyone,

Just to keep you updated…….I’m still in USA in ‘Granny’ mode and enjoying every minute. I find myself with a bit of time on my hands this morning whilst Freya is at toddler group with Mummy.

I met a plein-air painter yesterday evening as Jobbers and I were walking into Bethesda to go to the cinema.  Had a great chat with him and I kind of wished I had my paints with me so that I could join him.  He’s told me about a lot of plein-air events locally and on the east coast so I might just have to come back!!

Incidentally, we went to see Red Joan starring the inimitable Judi Dench.  Highly recommend it.

In the meantime, just for your entertainment, I thought I’d show you a step-by-step of some cornishware and lemons I did a while back.  The sketch is long gone but it will be a couple of weeks until I get back in the studio.  I’m just hoping the peonies are still going then……..they’re everywhere here!

When I get back I’ll be straight into Art in the Countryside (details available) followed by handing in paintings to Chelsea Art Society an getting stuck into those peonies.  Happy days.



Good afternoon. I’m running around today like an idiot trying to pack for a painting trip to France tomorrow but thought I’d stop to post. I thought you’d like to see my working process so here’s a few snapshots of the stages (scroll down to see). I know a lot of you also paint so think it’s good to share. For this piece I used the following palette: Cad yellow/lemon/raw umber/yellow ochre/french ultramarine/titanium white and for the background, unbleached titanium and a bit of Kings Blue. Brushes used are Shiraz series by Rosemary & Co and painted on a Gaerstakker canvas board because I’ve got too busy to be prepping boards!!
You’ll see that I only draw in the subject quickly at the start but can make adjustments as I go along. Hope this is of interest and you’re not yawning your socks off! Will hopefully post from France and show you what I’m up to………so exciting!


20cmx20cm oil on canvasboard

Click here to purchase


20cmx20cm oil on canvasboard


Well, I’ve just about recovered from Surrey Art Fair which was great fun with good sales but boy…….exhausting! Loved being in a little ‘enclave’ with painting pals. We did a lot of giggling and sharing of all things chocolate and were able to watch each others’ stands when the obligatory wee was required. I stayed in a sweet little airbnb up the road which I had to myself so at close of day didn’t need to speak………not that I could!
Anyway, onwards and upwards. I’ve just been out to buy painting subjects for the weekend from the wholesaler so that’s me – holed-up for the next two days whilst you all enjoy some R&R. Not sure I thought it through properly so I’ve got a job on my hands to paint them before they die. Still, Jobbers is away so the house is empty bar me so I can make a rare old mess in the kitchen prepping panels and eating when I like. Bliss.
So, before I hit you with my flower bomb, here’s some good old garlic – always a great subject, panders to my obsession with whites and doesn’t wilt. Have a lovely weekend.

20x20cm oil on canvasboard

Click here to purchase

Cherry blossom

I’ve been a little bit captivated of late by Monty Don in Japan. I’d love to see the cherry blossom but having to make do with a gorgeous tree in our village which heralds the very beginnings of spring each year. The owners kindly let me pinch a bit so I did this little oil sketch and then worked on a larger one for Surrey Contemporary Art Fair which is next weekend (let me know if you’d like a complimentary ticket).
Anyway, happy International Women’s Day to all you lovely people, regardless of gender (or not?)

cherry blossom 10951

20cmx20cm oil on canvasboard

Click here to purchase

Snowdrops 1

It’s that time of year. Everything coming thick and fast and me in a rare old panic. Love Snowdrops though don’t you? Waiting for the warmer weather tomorrow………what a treat!

9415, snowdrops 1

20x20cm oil on board

Click here to purchase