Saturday, 25 July 2015


Peacock Butterfly Shevaun Doherty
“Change always comes bearing gifts.”
Price Pritchett

A change is as good as a rest they say. Recently I needed to take a short break from the botanical art and blogging, and take time out to catch up with my life.
Change is good. It gives you a chance to re-evaluate
your work and to plan the way forward. Some plans need careful nurture, whilst others delight you by appearing unexpectedly. Right in the midst of my paperwork, my butterflies finally emerged! Despite having studied the caterpillars closely and knowing all about their transformation, I was still so surprised to see them! What a miracle! 

These ugly black caterpillars have magically transformed into the most beautiful creatures. I took them down to the riverbank where the nettles grow in abundance, and set them free. What joy!

Free at last!
The Pollinator Plan will be officially launched next month and I’m excited about that too. It’s a national plan to tackle the growing decline in pollinators, and to "make Ireland a place where pollinators survive and thrive”.  
Art, Bumblebee, knapweed, Shevaun Doherty
Bombus hortorum on Centaurea nigra by Shevaun Doherty
When I attended the Pollinator Symposium at the National Biodiversity Data Centre in February, I came away bursting with enthusiasm and pride, having listened to experts from every field (science, agriculture, horticulture, government, bee keeping) talk passionately and knowledgeably about what the problems are and how to address them. 
Positive thoughts lead to positive changes. 

Art, Bumblebee, knapweed, Shevaun Doherty
Garden bumblebee on knapweed by Shevaun Doherty (Bombus hortorum on Centaurea nigra)
Change can also lead to new opportunities. Next month I am heading down to the beautiful Bantry Bay in Cork to give a botanical art demo at Bantry House. It’s to commemorate the bicentenary of Ellen Hutchins, Ireland’s first female botanist and extraordinary woman. A gifted artist, she produced wonderful detailed illustrations of the plants that she found, and made many new and exciting discoveries. She was especially known for her work on seaweeds. It’s an honour to be asked to take part in the activities. If you are in the area, come along! You can read more about it here-

Seashore treasures, gouache on paper, Shevaun Doherty
Seashore treasures by Shevaun Doherty
Yesterday I attended a meeting for the new Irish Society of Botanical Artists project. As always, it’s wonderful to visit the Botanic gardens and to catch up with old friends. The ISBA’s last project, ‘Aibitir, The Irish Alphabet in Botanical Art’ was a huge success, travelling widely to much acclaim. It’s currently being exhibited at Waterford Cathedral. 

This time the ISBA are collaborating with the Irish Garden Plant Society to produce a book of botanical portraits of new Irish Garden Plants. I’m sure the book will be stunning. There are over 60 artists involved. There will also be a three week exhibition in the Botanic Gardens next year. My plant is a snowdrop, a plant that I have always wanted to paint. White flowers are always a challenge, so I look forward to Spring!

My visit to the Botanic Gardens also gave me a chance to check out their beautiful Agapanthus flowers. Big, blue and ever so slightly daunting, the Agapanthus flower is next on my studio list. Having never painted such a tall plant, I found myself with the dilemma of how to set it up so that I could see the flower properly! So the biggest change this week has been in my studio. Everything came out (so much dust!) and my architect’s table was installed in it’s new position. Suddenly I have so much room! I can’t wait to get started now!

Changes lead to new beginnings. 
“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.”

Pauline R. Kezer


  1. wow.....i love your studio redo

    1. Me too! I've suddenly got a much more comfortable place to work in! And I can paint BIG paintings now. I've some full size sheets of paper that will be making an appearance soon. Big paintings mean big brushes too!

  2. Welcome back! Your studio looks nice and fresh and ready for creativity to come. Are you working more upright these days? Your drafting board is at about the angle I like my easel. Congratulations on the exhibitions and upcoming demonstration!!

    1. Thanks Janene. I've always worked fairly upright as I find it really strains my neck and shoulders otherwise. I think it's a habit from years of painting in oils. You work fairly upright too- I admire your ability to stand as you paint. It's great to have so many things to look forward to. I'm going to be busy!

  3. Change IS good. I've been in a quandary about tall flowers too. It's nice to see others' solutions. I am so proud of you being so involved with the protection (and propagation!) of pollinators. I hope you are proud too. The Plan sounds wonderful and I'm glad to hear of it. That agapanthus is incredible. The ones we see around here have nowhere near as many florets. I'm looking forward to seeing it come to life.

    1. Thanks Laura! Setting up is possibly one of our biggest challenges, and trying to get the plant painted before it goes over! I love the Pollinator Plan too... there are some incredibly inspiring people involved which is always heartening to see. Yes, all those florets.... eek!

  4. I love how your work has conservation and the bettering if your natural ecology in mind. Your studio is just so airy and light filled. All good things happening in your corner. Love it all. Inspiring!

    1. Thank you Kateri. I really count myself lucky to be able to combine my art with my love of the natural world. I hope I can always do this.


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