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The Botanical Room Part 22 Hurrah for December!

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Hurrah for December!

The end of a year can bring hope for new beginnings in the new year to follow.

With such worrying times across the world let us try to think some happy thoughts.

I caught this moment on the right near to us, it was rolling, freezing fog, gathering across a snowy field, it was quite captivating.

Brilliant things about December

Perhaps a little chocolate?

Every animal can speak on Christmas Eve

A time for giving gifts, love, charity

Cuddles by the fire perhaps?

Enchanting twinkly lights.

From the 21st days start to get longer.

Old friends reconnecting.

Reaching out to others

And some much needed time off from your job.

Later, time to make resolutions and reflect.

Loving times with close friends and family?

And a hidden message for all who those struggling in terrible situations, we know not everywhere is safe and warm. May the worry and madness end and peace and safety prevail. xx

Just in case you were wondering it is said, that yes, every animal is able to speak on Christmas Eve, it's true but bad luck to test it, so wait to be spoken to.

If my Whippet, Professor Grayson could speak it would be 'Can I please just eat at the table with you?'

I start this blog with a little look back at my year.

I was late to return to teaching in my studio,as covid still had its grip on my fear of resuming close gatherings.

Both S (my hubby) and I have almost become reclusive, both squirreling away in our respective sheds. S building and making and gardening, and me painting, writing and gardening. We have both been rather preoccupied with just getting on with our own stuff in our own way. This was not good, we should have been out more, doing things with others. We did manage a long weekend with old friends over from Australia, but not much socialising at all. When my students returned to class, many confessed to the same fears of returning to normal social behavior, so we all took some solace in that similarity.

I took such joy and comfort from the chatter and enjoying watching over them as they painted, I love being back.

Throughout the year I have been amazed at the students work in my online school. Each has a unique and beautiful way to interpret the tutorials, which always makes me emotional.

It must be my age but when I see the work of others inspired from my demonstrations, it fills me with joy to the point of tears. The pleasure that painting can bring to one's life is almost immeasurable. Even with disappointment or frustration along the way, our little steps of progress are worth all the effort.

I haven't actually done as much painting as usual this year, as I wanted so desperately to finish 'The Botanical Shoes' book (available in my store- go to my school and click on the shop there :) ). Very limited stock!

As usual I would procrastinate, and rewrite and rewrite again. Adding things and removing things and changing my mind. I don't think I have ever worked so hard on such a joyful thing before. It would have been cheaper for me and quicker if I had just made my design decisions earlier, I guess any personal projects, like a pretty flowery book, is allowed to be more of an organic process.

Still I have enjoyed my time at the table, and found myself drawn to small studies, perhaps the introduction of my new size 1 brush has had something to do with that.

I am hoping the new year will bring new ideas to my table, I am forever hungry to explore new ways to scratch the creative itch. I plan to play more with watercolour, to both achieve greater perfection but also bigger expression, I am not sure how but let's hope inspiration flows. You can be sure I will share with you all that I discover.

I would love to explore more landscape and flowers but will need to find a good reliable process to be able to comfortably share how.

If only you could see me at my workstation, frantically planning, and thinking what to show you through the tutorials, you would see me in my true tortured state, completely self inflicted torment, surrounded by piles of sketches, trying desperately not to bite my nails!


We have had our share of technical irritations this year. More than we let on about and as both myself and my photography team live and work in areas of poor internet and regular power cuts, not all the problems have been foreseeable. But, we had new cameras

and fail-safes installed late this year, so 2023 looks to be a simpler and more crisper filming year. My team are amazing and never fail to make me feel at ease.

Also I never forget that you are there on the other side of the camera, but please do think of me next time you log in, I'm cringing as I look back on haircut or wardrobe mistakes, or possible triumphs and every sign of ageing that's becoming evermore more visible, all logged and there for my feeble examination.

As I ponder the inevitable physical changes, I console myself that I will be even older tomorrow, so maybe tomorrow I will look back and be a little kinder on my very slightly, younger self.

Oh the vanity of it all, forgive me.

2022 saw my two sons properly settled into their new home in east London, away from us, as it should be. They live together, and occasionally work together in their respective music careers. I had hoped to be a more regular visitor but they are probably thankful that I am not. I love that they share a home, albeit a very small home, and that they took with them, their epic quantity of various musical wires. Wires that to me, make no sense at all but are no doubt integral to sound making. Goodness knows where the wires will be stored, not my problem anymore, hurrah! Both are musical and both very fit and lean, I am not sure where those gifts came from but they are both lucky to have such things. We miss them when we don't see them for long periods of time, as does the dog but the reunions are always sweeter after a gap.

So, new year promises are not my style, I choose to make a vague suggestions of what I may do or hope to do, that way I don't disappoint anyone, or me, if I don't achieve them.

One suggestion is the start to building a sketch book with my online school students, we have already filmed a couple of page ideas, which will hopefully be followed up with some challenges to those of you who are full members, to get you compiling your own page layouts.

Another hope is to create bigger painting tutorials, in order to paint our way out of any remaining lock -down, leftover blues.

And of course new ideas on designs and mixed media and lots more glorious flowers.

I write this a few days before my final project release for 2022 the 'Apple and Bow' I hope you find time in the busy season to have a go.

For now, I would like to wish you a very Happy Christmas wherever you are,

and a healthy, peaceful, and above all hopeful new year.

Thank you for reading my blogs through the seasons, 2023 will bring more of my musings and memories, that I hope you will enjoy.

I will also be including a new feature 'Notes from the Painting Table' to help you with your watercolour painting.

I will leave you with a snippet from one of my longer, country tale, poems called

'Nutty Green',

a collection of poems I hope to illustrate one day.

We gathered in and tied up the snup

Plenty of splish in the barrel to sup.

Wove the stitchwort tight and sure,

Rolled yellow goat's beard to soften the floor.

Stuffed the bedstraw good and tight,

And with bellies full up, we slept all the night.

We all worshipped the land and sky and the rain,

to ensure our bounty would come here again.

And now that we have our sustenance stored,

the roof made strong,

With nail and board.

We can face the storm of the winter ahead,

And enjoy the weather from the warmth of our bed.

Happy Holidays

love Billy x

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Val Aloian
Val Aloian
Jan 30, 2023

oops, i think i erred in my comment above- it was a purple hellebore not an anemone!


Val Aloian
Val Aloian
Jan 27, 2023

Hey Billy. I've been stalking you ever since your early utube days when you demonstrated your technique with the purple anemone. Boy time flies. Mesmerized by your voice and instruction style, I've attended your school ever since and still eagerly await each new release. Your comment above that you -never forget we are here behind the camera-, got me to thinking. You have had hundreds of student over the last decade and probably have never seen or conversed with a large majority of them. Yet as students, we see you- close up and personal, in more detail than a friend in real life. Every two weeks for several hours we can visit with you and imagine who you might …

Jan 27, 2023
Replying to

Ok Val I guess your loyalty deserves a little of my reality. Coming soon is an Instagram live and a new blog with tales from the desk in which I reveal the real me. I fall very short of your imagined Billy but that’s social media’s fault, who films the blisters after wearing fab shoes? But I’m hoping not to disappoint. Thank you for your lovely reply ❤️❤️


Dec 20, 2022

Dear Billy what a wonderful blog as you have shared this , it’s been a hard year but we have all got through it with your help your wonderful tutorial,

your kindness and giving us something to look forward to seeing every two weeks you have made us want to get out our paints and sit and enjoy life again thank you .

To Billy and the team and all our paintings family have a very merry Christmas and a very blessed new year

Dec 20, 2022
Replying to

Thank you I always aim to keep the happy things on top to keep the other stuff from being too loud. Looking forward to painting a way to happiness. Happy holidays Best billy x


Merry Christmas from down under, Billy. May you have a happy and relaxing time with family and friends. Thanks for continuing to share your amazing talent through the tutorials ,as well as insights into your life ,which are both inspirational and enjoyable. Lyn Stary

Dec 20, 2022
Replying to

Thank you I always aim to tell a story both in my art and writing Have a good holiday and here’s to a prettier future.


Dec 20, 2022

Billy, your blogs are always so thoughtful and honest as well as just being a jolly good read ! I was reminding myself of your beautiful “shoe book” and reading your poem, it got me thinking about the flower fairies books which I so loved as a girl (still love actually), and how wonderful it would be if you were able to do something like that with a 21st century twist ! Anyway … a very merry Xmas and happy 2023 🎄

Billy Showell
Billy Showell
Dec 20, 2022
Replying to

I love the flower fairies and you won't be surprised to read that I have in the past played with a variation of that idea, inspired by my boys. The abandoned sketches are in my studio somewhere, not as exquisite as the originals but then what could be? thank you for your lovely reply.

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