Plants & Pattern – a workshop with Helen Rhodes

Earlier in March we ran a pilot for the second in our new series of artist-led workshops. The artists all produce work that has a connection to gardens, horticulture or just the great outdoors. This is an extension of the ethos of the Secret Craft Fairs that I hold each year as part of our NGS Open Garden day – bringing art and gardens together.

Four of us met at The Refectory Table with Helen Rhodes to test drive and refine Plants and Pattern, a workshop with Helen Rhodes. We’re a mixed bunch in terms of our artistic ability. Two of us have Fine Art degrees, an IT specialist with a keen eye for detail, and a self confessed creative novice.

We drank tea and listened as Helen told us about her work, how she developed her creative business, and what we were going to do.

The first activity – preparing our paper for the day – was very hands on and simple – a good way to get started. The techniques Helen then revealed to us were engaging and uncomplicated; it’s the way she puts them together that make them sparkle. There were lots of ‘ooh’s’ as we completed our initial mono-prints, the base of our designs.

It was wonderful having Helen’s inspiring support and guidance over the session. She was very intuitive about which of us needed a bit more help and when, letting us ‘go’ on our own once we’d got over various hurdles. For example, I’m not that confident about colour but had a clear idea of the composition I was after, so was very happy to take advice about that. Emma wanted to focus on her painting technique – so opted to select one of Helen’s images to use as a starting point.

Helen kept us all on track, no one felt as if they were lagging behind or racing ahead. The materials and equipment are inexpensive and easy to get hold of, the processes simple enough to do at your own kitchen table.

We worked quickly and easily – achieving a lot in just a few hours. After just a couple of hours we all had paintings we are pleased with and felt inspired to do more, whatever our level of previous experience.

We chatted over lunch – a tasty homemade tomato soup – then did a quick review of the morning’s session. Thinking about how much more could be achieved in a day and additional activities to enable folk to hone their observation skills in relation to plants and pattern.

The resulting workshop is a packed but relaxed day discovering the secrets behind Helen’s different techniques, exploring local gardens with Helen to look at seasonal plants and pattern, and creating your own rich and colourful mixed media artworks with Helen’s support. Plus a two course lunch and home baked cake.

Quote of the day was from Emma. “I could do this all day and go home happy!”

Since then we have run one workshop and the July one is fully booked! There will be another workshop on 26th September, get in quick if you’d like a place.

To find out more about the workshops and book go to the booking page. If you’d like more information or prefer to pay offline just contact me. Need a bit more detail? Download the full timetable for the days here.

About the Tutor – Helen Rhodes

Helen Rhodes unique paintings and illustrations are instantly recognisable. Helen has been creating and selling her original artwork through galleries nationwide for twenty years. Her work combines intensely rich colours, textures and patterns with naïve compositions.

In 2011 Helen introduced her own range of cards, her products now include prints, ceramics, brooches, stationery and textiles.

You can read more about Helen and see her work and products here –