Billy Showell graduated from St Martins School of Art with a B.A. in fashion design, but was irresistably drawn to painting and illustration. In 1993 she set course for a career as an artist and now paints, illustrates and teaches botanical painting at her studio and art clubs in the UK, USA and Australia. She lives in Tunbridge Wells, UK with her husband and two sons. Billy has been awarded five Certificates of Botanical Merit from the Society of Botanical Artists and her first book on watercolour flower portraits has been hugely successful in the UK and abroad. Billy's paintings are collected by her followers the world over and many are available as limited edition prints.
Dec 10 If you want to paint professional and attractive botanical pictures of flowers, here is a good place to start. Ms Showell's earlier book on Watercolor Fruit and Vegetable Portraits (also reviewed on this site) showed how lovely even the humble spud could look when transformed into the sort of painting you could encounter in a priceless 18th century book. Now this talented artist turns her hand to flower painting, and it is time to get those watercolors out once again. Actually you can also find my review of Watercolour Flower Portraits in our archives as well, so prepare for more beautiful floral studies. Search Press is not known for their hardcover books but this is one, which will perhaps give you a clue that this is going to be something special. I love the way the flowers look so three-dimensional against the starkness of the white paper, and if your watercolors manage to look insipid then this is one lesson you can learn from this book to start with. There is good advice about composition, keeping a sketchbook and of course what to buy as well as mastering techniques such as wet-in-wet, color mixing, masking etc. Of course much of this is common to watercolor painting of any type, but I liked how it was all applied to florals with plenty of examples. Here too is advice on veining your leaves; painting fine hairs on stems, creating realistic water droplets and what colors you need to buy for flower painting. The flowers chosen are all garden favourites, ranging from traditional roses and lilies to daffodils and fritillaries, as well as yuccas, pitcher plants and quesnelia. Each project features a large, whole page study of the bloom along with a pencil sketch of part of it with some color added. There are instructions (not the type with staged photographs but just in writing) as well as a color swatch of all the paints you need to buy and what they look like mixed into the relevant shades. A short piece about the flowers together with the artist's own reason for choosing them completes the entry, making it eminently suitable for all those watercolorists who have progressed beyond beginner primers and are wanting something more intermediate and relevant to their chosen subject. This is also just a lovely book to gaze at, a celebration of flowers and a handsome addition to bookshelves (and coffee tables) everywhere. Highly recommended. Myshelf.com Oct 10 Billy Showell approaches her subjects with the same level of accuracy as botanical artists. Her flowers are meticulous and realistic, but infused with her distinctive sense of design to give them a modern twist. This book gives information on materials and equipment needed, as well as clear instructions on the main techniques used, including wet-in-wet, laying glazes, dry brushing, lifting out, using body colour, masking and creating texture and pattern. There are details on colour mixing and on how to get the best out of brushes as well as insights into composition ideas and on keeping a sketchbook. There are also detailed step-by-step instructions showing how to paint 40 specific flower portraits, each accompanied by small studies, including a colour swatch illustrating the palette and paint mixes used for the work. Billy Showell's fans will need no further recommendation. If you are new to her work, you will be delighted at the clarity of instruction, the delicacy and vibrancy of the paintings, and the invaluable advice and inspiration this book offers. Artist, The Oct 10 Following her successful volumes on flowers, fruit and veg, Billy Showell returns with a collection of step-by-step instructions for painting a variety of plant species, alongside information on specific techniques like masking out and glazing. Showell doesn't aim for strict botanical accuracy, instead opting for a fresher artistic flourish in her work. While the practical aspect of the book is undebiably useful, this is also a great chance to see the artist's intricate flower portraits reproduced across many of the spreads. From anemone seeds to spots on the petals of a Stargazer, the level of detail she has achieved is astonishing, particulary considering these are watercolours. It all confirms Showell not just as an impressive floral painter, but also as one of the UK's leading watercolour artists in any genre. Artists & Illustrators, The Oct 10 Billy Showell is a fantastic watercolour artist. When I first saw her work I was amazed at how she takes the subject and renders is with an almost botanical attention to detail and yet has that magic touch that transforms work from what could be a somewhat stilted reproduction of flower, fruit or vegetable into a stunning and attractive work of art. Needless to say - I simply love her work and as very excited to read about her new book. In this book she takes 40 different flowers and shows us simple touches from simply observing closely tiny details specific to each flower, to the colour mixes she uses to create works, and different techniques such as wet in wet and lifting out. Its the clever extra touches such as the tulips on page 9 where she has used their natural tendency to curve and bend to form a heart shape from two stems that make her works so special. Of course its Billy's love for flowers and constant observation that allows her to know these differing characteristics to each plant. By observing plants around us and using a sketchbook as she advises we can learn this too. The paintings themselves are not quite the usual step by step paintings so common to art books but present a bit more of a challenge. I'm sure that will appeal to many artist who want to develop their own style rather than just follow other peoples instructions. Its certainly one of the things that make her books so exciting for me. Billy tells us the colour mixes needed for each flower and from observing the full page illustration we follow her instructions to complete that flower. With some of the more complex flowers she gives additional mini demos to show the best way to render the petals. The beauty of working this way is that it allows the artist to become a participant in the painting rather than simply a follower of instruction, and once confident that your rose or tulip you've painted following her advice is competent you will feel encouraged to do it again with one from the garden or supermarket with new colours and shapes. A superb book, full of exciting ideas for the artist who wants to do more than just follow instructions. JeannieZelos.com Dec 10 Following her first two books on painting flowers - Watercolour Flower Portraits and Watercolour Fruit & Vegetable Portraits, Billy Showell brings us her A-Z of Flower Portraits. The book opens with a section on composition, followed by useful advice on keeping a sketchbook, placing the flowers on the paper, and the importance of lighting. A chapter on materials and equipment precedes several pages on techniques, including such subjects as colour blending, lifting out, negative veining (a way of creating pale veins by lifting out fine, bright lines), layering glazes, masking out and texture and pattern. Billy realises that most of us don't have endless time to experiment with colour mixes and helps us on our way by giving us details of her own mixes resulting from hours of trial and error. The colour mixes (which are beautifully reproduced by the publisher) start each section, describing the colours you need to combine to get the desired subtlety of colour for your subject. Less experienced artists can work through these preliminary sections, while more experienced artists may prefer to go straight to the projects. Forty painting projects are included, with subjects ranging from flower names of every letter of the alphabet, starting with anemones and aquilegia and ending with the zantedeschia (white arum lily to you and me). Billy is an inspirational flower painter, taking the best of the traditions of botanical painting yet imbuing her work with her own contemporary signature - a skill that has earned her five certificates of botanical merit from the Society of Botanical Artists. Leisure Painter, The Summer Catalogue 2014 This enchanting book and DVD set is bursting with top tips & detailed demonstrations to help you paint 40 breathtaking blooms. SAA