top of page
Search

The Botanical room Part 29- laughing

Updated: Sep 6, 2023


Welcome to August.

Life can sometimes be very serious, so I have decided that this month's blog will be about laughing. If I lived in my little botanical room, I would want it to have moments of hysterical laughter, the kind that makes your tummy ache. My mum was the best at this sort of giggle fit and my strongest memories are of listening to her laugh with her little sister Chris.

One thing I really love is getting an attack of the giggles.

Sadly, it's not something you can manufacture, but when the giggles start, they can be invigorating and exhausting.

I recall really liking the ability to make my siblings jump. I would hide behind a door and be so excited at the thought of making them jump, but I would start to giggle and then give away my position. The anticipation of making somebody jump was almost as funny as the action itself.

I also recall getting the giggle fits at a Chaucer play held in Guildford Cathedral, I would have been 16 at the time, and the play was so awful. My friend Sarah and I tried so hard to stifle our laugh; the more you try to stop, the funnier it gets! It proved impossible to contain our giggles; we were in trouble that day, that's for sure.


(me around that time)

Sometimes it can be curious as to what actually makes you laugh. I love silly slapstick humour, where people pretend to fall over, yet it depends, as not all falling over is funny and not all slapstick makes me laugh.

Laurel and Hardy can make me laugh uncontrollably. When I was on holiday once, while watching one L&H film, I completely lost the ability to stop laughing; I had to leave the living room and hide in the kitchen until I had run out of steam. I had no idea what made it so funny; once I stopped, I was exhausted.

The giggles can also be made more intense by stress; I recall back in the 90's working at Wallis, the fashion group. I was in the cloth room working as a cloth room assistant. The cloth buyer was my dear friend Andrea, and I was her useless assistant. I joined the company as a very junior pattern room assistant. I worked my way around the company learning the various aspects of the trade. The cloth room became my last position there because I had decided to leave fashion and become an illustrator. I was missing the opportunity to simply draw and wanted a more creative and less stressful life.

Working at Wallis at that time was very stressful. I had to travel from Brixton across London to Hendon, which was a challenging and costly journey. The emphasis was always on overtime; one was supposed to practically breathe fashion, but the pay was painfully low, and the stress unbelievably high.

Anyway, I was in the cloth room and was more of a nuisance than use. Andrea was on top of her job, brilliant and clever (in fact, she still is on top of her career although working for another Fashion house now); we had become firm friends and met up nearly every weekend with our boyfriends (now husbands) to see a film or comedy night or just have something to eat somewhere.

The workplace atmosphere was toxic at the time; young employees and experienced staff were fired weekly. We were on the floor near the director's office, and the walls were thin! If you made one small mistake, the repercussions were loud and scary.

We joked about it then, but the air was sharp with anxiety.

One day something triggered the giggles, it was a hectic time, and we didn't have time to waste. Still, the negativity in the air made the laughs more potent and difficult to shake off. We kept trying to stifle them, but our bodies shook under the strain. We knew we could be heard, so that made it even harder to stop. One of the senior designers entered the office and asked what was funny, we could barely speak, but somehow Andrea managed to find composure. I had to leave the room and seek calm in the toilets. I felt sad when the laughing stopped, as it had been so welcome. I think it was that day that I decided to make plans to leave, I would be sad to leave my friend, but I realised how much I was battling with the negativity of the environment.

It shows how vital the uncontrollable giggles are, so I can recall such events so clearly.


I have recently returned to live teaching in my studio and realised how important it is for me to connect with people. We need the laughs and the comradery that comes with working or playing together. Whether it is to console each other on the trials in life or just to listen, we all need a chance to create together now and then. We need the opportunity to make each other laugh in a space where we can laugh without restriction if the moment takes us.

Notes from the painting Table.

I tidied up my studio this week. It needs doing regularly because I manage to be untidy the minute I start painting. In the tidy-up I found a lost cartoon of mine! Crazy Bird (seen here) I used to paint these as gifts and cards.

I have decided I have too many art books, but I find it impossible to select which ones to give up to charity. I will have to learn to be more ruthless; the trouble is that some books have one or two pages I fondly turn to, again and again for inspiration.

I always find space for a new book, but there will be consequences for the overloaded shelves!


When I tidy, I find myself squeezing and using up older paint tubes and making new palettes for specific painting projects.

On a trip to a vintage market, I found small metal cups that I believe to be vintage confectionery moulds. I have blue tacked the moulds onto some old ceramic mixing trays to make specific colour collections. I must admit to falling in love with these collections despite being difficult to store. I am sharing the idea with you if you have a similar passion for vintage pieces.

In my searches, I have rediscovered a colour that will soon feature my tutorials. I rarely add a new colour to my list, but this one is fabulous.

The colour is Sennelier Rose Dore Madder Lake 691. The vitals are good; it is lightfast and transparent. It makes the most beautiful berry colour and mixes well with lemon to create a sumptuous orange.

One more discovery was my box of sketchbooks here are some images from a lovely watercolour colour book that I was gifted, these paintings were made in the autumn of 2019 when I first moved to the countryside, and inspired some tutorials. I even pressed some flowers from the first few months for the inside cover. :)




I hope this months blog has given you a moment to recall some good laughs and inspired some nifty upcycling ideas.

Wishing all was well everywhere and wishing you some happy moments to savour.

love Billy :) :) xx



491 views10 comments

Recent Posts

See All

10 Comments


Carole Anne Watson
Carole Anne Watson
Aug 02, 2023

How lovely to read about your giggling exploits. Made me smile like a Cheshire cat.😊. The hints and tips and glimpses into your beautiful art life are inspiring. I'm going to look out for some confectionery moulds...or something similar, brilliant idea there! Also going to find the new Sennelier Rose.

Like
billyshowell
billyshowell
Aug 03, 2023
Replying to

Brilliant! I am glad you like the palette idea. Glad too that I made you smile 😊

Like

Happy painting and laughing everyone.

Like
billyshowell
billyshowell
Aug 03, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Jennifer ❤️

Like

Thank you Billy I love reading your blogs and look forward to them. They give me food for thought and reflection. Since retiring it the grandchildren that make me laugh they are with me during summer holidays enabling parents to work but they do make me smile. I love your tutorials not just to learn to paint but to engage with your lovely sense of humour and thoughts. Keep doing what you do. I will never be botanical but I love the journey as I said before on the challenge it starts with the first step. Love, laugh and enjoy life on this cold wet summers day. Eileen

Like
billyshowell
billyshowell
Aug 03, 2023
Replying to

Live and laugh yes, I love the mind of a four year old, enjoy the grandchildren they are a precious gift 💝

Like

gail
gail
Aug 01, 2023

Wonderful writing Billy. Thank you for sharing beautiful moments and stressful times. Nothing like a good sense of humor and a laugh to make one's day. I wonder if you will be in slow motion in your next tutorial (to accommodate your fast painting). Enjoy the learnings any which way. Keep that unique vocabulary coming. There isn't a tutorial without a few laughs.

Like
billyshowell
billyshowell
Aug 03, 2023
Replying to

Well I have been called the fastest brush in the south east 😀 but the mantra remains ‘embrace the glory of slowliness’

Like

Linda Harvey
Linda Harvey
Aug 01, 2023

Enjoyed that blog Billy...lightened my afternoon and the sketch book thumbnails have inspired me as they are not too big and I can feel relaxed to try some of my own. Hope August is good for you all. L xx

Like
billyshowell
billyshowell
Aug 03, 2023
Replying to

So pleased the thumbnails got you painting

Hurrah 👏🏻👏🏻

Like
bottom of page