New work

‘The human being is the most adaptable animal’.

This was one of my Dad’s favourite sayings, usually quoted as he stood washing dishes looking out the kitchen window at the birds, the hedgerows and the fields here on the outskirts of Kilkenny in the south east of Ireland. He had a fascination for nature, people and all of life so who knows what thoughts he mused over as he reached for his synopsis of Darwinian theory.

Had he lived, Dad would have been ninety this past week. I’ve wondered over the past few months what he would have made of the huge challenges we have been faced with. I think, like so many, he would have been wise, resilient, resourceful, self reliant but empathetic and very conscious of others. He would have adapted. We’ve all had to adapt, to change our plans, our ways of working and being – with the hope of better things to come.

Wintering Out- Acanthus mollis

Wintering Out – Acanthus mollis ©️Mary Dillon

As a botanical artist, I am fascinated by the notion of temporal change in the plant world. Every moment in the life cycle of a plant is just that, a moment in time, even when it seems that all life has left the plant, change continues to occur. The dynamism of growth, from the first sprouting of a seed to the last moment of change in colour and form of the dying plant, utterly captivates me. 

While walking in Birr Castle Demesne last winter, I was captivated by the shiny gloriously coloured seedpods of the acanthus as it faded back into the herbaceous border. Moving from warm yellows to greens and into inky deep blues, I was drawn in both by the colours but also by the complex twisty spiked forms. From the first moment this acanthus caught my eye, I thought of the Seamus Heaney anthology ‘Wintering Out’. How apt that his words ‘if we can winter this one out we can summer anywhere’ have encouraged us during these challenging days.

Nerines bowdenii

Nerines bowdenii ©️Mary Dillon

Initially, I intended to make a botanical illustration of Nerines bowdenii. However, life and other commitments prevented me from following my original intention. I kept the flowers in my studio and after about two months I realised that they had continued to change into the most mesmerising colours and forms. I was completely blown away by their beauty as they became more and more frail and delicate in the process of dying.

Bountiful- Punica granatum ‘Nana’

Bountiful- Punica granatum ‘Nana’ ©️ Mary Dillon

Bountiful- Punica granatum ‘Nana’ is twice life size. It captures some pomegranates with one dangling precariously from a tree. I found them growing in El Poble Nou, Barcelona, where I was teaching botanical art during autumn 2019. I just couldn’t take my eyes from the jewel like seeds glistening in the fruits. Having completed numerous sketches in situ and taken lots of colour notes and photographs to record details, I began to work on the painting back in my studio at home in Ireland.

It’s been a work in progress over the past few months when life has changed for us all. It brought me to the warmth and colour of the streets in Barcelona and to other pomegranate trees, particularly those I’ve seen in Skiathos in Greece where I first fell in love with pomegranates. It’s brought me to the warmth of the people I’ve met in those places. It’s been a place of solace and focus, a beckoning force taking me to a place apart when there was nowhere else. It’s been a place of joy and solace as I worked in my studio listening to stories on the radio of sickness and death – of resilience, togetherness and hope.

Wintering Out – Acanthus mollis, is currently showing in ‘Through the Artist’s Eye – Birr Castle Demesne’. www.birrcastle.com

Nerines bowdenii and Punica granatum ‘Nana’ will both be shown in ‘Exploring Botany – Botanical Art from Europe and Japan, Past and Present’, The Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology, Krakow, Poland. The exhibition will open when current restrictions have been lifted in Poland. www.manggha.pl

Easy and Slow……. Greece……Botanical Art Holiday, September 12 – 18, 2021

Would you like to take a break, to slow down, feast your senses, enhance your painting skills and master new ones, to rest and nourish your body, your mind and your soul? Join me on a beautiful Greek island in September 2021 for a botanical art holiday.

Perched in the heart of a Greek mountain village above the bay of Karystos on the island of Evia, Villa Kasteli, a traditional mountain villa with its panoramic sea and mountain views, is the ideal location for a relaxing botanical art holiday. Just two hours by car and boat from Athens airport, ‘getting away from it all’ couldn’t be easier.

Villa Kasteli

A family run boutique retreat centre for artists, yoga enthusiasts and garden lovers, Villa Kasteli has everything you might need for a relaxing and inspiring botanical art holiday. Run by the Lorenz family, at Villa Kasteli every effort will be made to ensure that you eat well, sleep well, rest, paint and explore.

Terrace where breakfast is served

Studio

Our light filled spacious studio is situated in the midst of beautiful mediterranean garden plants. We will have 25 hours of Botanical art tuition in the studio or in ‘the field’. During your free time the studio will be available for some personal painting.

Light Filled Studio at Villa Kasteli
Painting on the terrace of Villa Kasteli

Local Inspiration

Olive groves and fig trees provide a backdrop to a rich array of native Mediterranean plants in the nearby countryside. The award winning Montofoli Estate and vineyard will be a perfect location for some field studies.

Mediterranean garden plants
Ophrys ferrum and Colchicum autumnale

Native species from the Island of Evia.
Montofoli Estate, Karystos

Featuring :

• Optional guided meditation with gentle stretching to end each day.

• A guided botanical walk along the hillside under the medieval Castello Rosso to the village of Mili.

• Dinner at Stella’s restaurant under the shade of the Platanos orientalis, Greek sycamore trees, in the village of Mili.

• Morning field trip to the nearby Montofoli Estate with time for field studies followed by picnic lunch.

Nearby places to visit :

Castello Rosso (Red Castle), a medieval Venetian Castle overlooking Villa Kasteli.

• Mount Ochi with its hillside pathways.

Unspoiled beaches with turquoise waters and golden sands for a relaxing swim.

Karystos, the perfect spot for afternoon refreshments and people watching.

Castello Rosso which overlooks Villa Kasteli
Getting away from it all………..

Accommodation

Villa Kasteli has four double bedrooms with private bathrooms, an open plan living, dining and kitchen area with a fireplace. An additional four double rooms are available nearby. Accommodation can be booked for either single or double occupancy.

Each bedroom has a large, comfortable double bed. We offer the option of double or single bedding, so if you choose to share your room you don’t have to share bedding.

Catering

Breakfast will consist of locally made fresh pastries, fruit, honey, yoghurt and porridge with a variety of super food toppings. Our chef will prepare lunch and dinner using delicious locally sourced fresh ingredients. We are very happy to accommodate any of your particular dietary requirements. Wine is included with dinner each evening.

Villa Kasteli

Outdoor

We have a beautiful terraced garden for you to explore, a swimming pool and covered pergola. Many outdoor seating areas throughout the garden.

Travel 

Guests are requested to book flights at your own cost, ideally arriving around lunchtime to ensure easy transfer to meet boat schedule in Rafina, and afternoon departures to ensure the same for your return. 

Transfers can be arranged to include meet and greet at Athens airport, taxi to port of Rafina, Boat ticket Rafina to Marmari and pickup from Marmari to Villa Kasteli – two hours door to door € 40 per person each way.

Cost:

€1,600 – one person using double room

€1,300 – per person sharing for two people sharing double room.

Includes:

• 6 nights accommodation

• 6 x breakfast, lunch, dinner

• 25 hrs. botanical art tuition

• Use of studio

• Visit to Montofoli Estate.

To Book:

Please contact me for further details and to check for available places:

marydillonbotanicalart@gmail.com

Pay €500 deposit via PayPal to secure your place.

Upcoming workshops 2018 / 2019

Easy and slow…..!
Learning the art of botanical painting
with Mary Dillon

 

I am happy to give you details of some upcoming workshops I will be giving. I look forward to sharing with you my love for plants, painting and botanical art.

Spain     –    February 21 – 24, 2019

                     October 31 – November 3, 2019

Austria   –   May 17, 2019

Ireland    –   November 19 – 23, 2018

Spain

Barcelona

Course 1: February 21 -24, 2019
Course 2: October 31 – November 3, 2019

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ABOUT THE WORKSHOPS:

Barcelona

February 21- 24, 2019

October 31 – November 3, 2019

Studio: Art Valles, Carrer Pallars, Barcelona. Time: 9 am to 3.30 pm each day
Cost: €280

Taking our inspiration from the changing seasons we will practise observational drawing to focus on light, form and composition before moving on to learning the basics of wet and dry watercolour techniques. By exploring a vibrant but simple colour palette we will use transparent layers of colour to bring vitality to our painting.

A small group will allow for demonstrations and individual tuition. This workshop is suitable for all levels of experience.

Enquiries to Laura Alonso: lauraalonso27 @gmail.com

http://www.arte-botanicao.com

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Austria

Vienna .

Vienna School of Botanical Illustration

Botanical Garden of The University of Vienna

 

Get Together 2019, May 12 to 19

 

Watercolour for Botanical Illustration with Mary Dillon

Friday, May 17, 2019

Time: 10.00 am to 18.00 pm

Cost: €100 

Enquiries regarding workshop and Get Together 2019 registration:

office@botanische-illustration.at

http://www.botanische-illustration.at

 

To facilitate broader group collaboration, the Vienna School of Botanical Illustration are organising GET TOGETHER 2019 where artists can meet, exchange ideas and work together in practical workshops. Specialist visits to museums and archive collections along with a field trip to the Donau – Auden National Park will also be included. Portfolio showcases will be given by botanical illustrators and the workshop instructors. These will last one to two hours in the mornings and will be followed by a discussion.

All components of the programme are independent so that attendees can decide on their own level of involvement.

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Ireland

Clonmel

November 19 – 23, 2018

About the workshops:

Venue: Tipperary County Museum

For Bookings please contact:       

Julia Walsh:  museum@tipperarycoco.ie

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2016 Botanical Art Workshops

Botanical Art – Painting the flowers and bulbs of Spring

with experienced artist and tutor, Mary Dillon

 

Friday April 22nd and Saturday April 23rd 2016

Located in Kilkenny city

close to the ring road around the city – with easy road and rail access

(1hr 12mins by car from the Red Cow, Dublin)

Paint in an easy relaxed atmosphere.

Whatever your level of experience, learn techniques to enhance your painting.

Numbers limited to allow for one to one tuition

Subjects will be included

Morning and afternoon refreshments included

Please bring your own materials for watercolour painting

Euro 120

For more information: phone – 087 2224260 / email – dillonmary@eircom.net

 

I have been involved in Art Education for many years, both with students in post primary school and in the area of providing continuing professional development for teachers.In 2011 I decided to focus specifically on my interest in Botanical Art and pursued the diploma in botanical art and illustration with the Society of Botanical Artists, graduating in May, 2014 with a diploma with distinction.

In March 2014, I became the founding Chairperson of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists. I coordinated the team responsible for the inaugural ISBA exhibition project, Aibítir, involving over  seventy five participating artists.

In 2015, I was invited to become an associate member of the SBA.

I find teaching botanical art particularly rewarding as it gives me an opportunity to share my skills and to encourage others to see the world of plants in a new and exciting way.

‘ Voyage of discovery……!’

Tricyrtis formosana, Toad lily.
Tricyrtis formosana, Toad lily.

I was recently introduced to this beauty and commissioned to paint it in all its glory. Tricyrtis formosana or Toad lily is full of interesting features. From its deep magenta unopened buds through to its curiously spotted flowers, its seed head and its magenta marked leaves.

Tricyrtis formosana, Work in Progress
Tricyrtis formosana, Work in Progress

Here are some photos of the work in progress…….

Tricyrtis formosana nearly completed
Tricyrtis formosana nearly completed

Finally….. Ready for its new home!

Detail of Tricyrtis formosana
Detail of Tricyrtis formosana

Mary Dillon           +353 87 2224260            dillonmary@eircom.net.