Friday, 27 June 2014

Pastures New

The time has come for me to indulge in myself for a bit... Today I took an almighty leap towards investing in my creativity. I am embarking on a new path and will therefore sadly be leaving the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art.

Putting up a Sowerby, 2010
I have very much enjoyed my time working at the gallery and will forever cherish the memories and friendships I have made whilst working there. I am proud to have been part of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew’s staff and will be forever grateful for the kindness they showed to me. My time at Kew was invaluable and now it is time for someone else to take the baton.   

Ken, me and Laura putting up paintings for Bulbmania, 2010

The Big Draw, 2010

The Big Draw, 2010

Billy Showell's book launch and signing, 2010

Wendy Hollander's book signing, 2010

Marianne North being restored, 2010

Picnic's in Kew with Henry and my bicycle, 2011

Snowy day in Kew, February 2012

Kew the Music, Tim Minchin, 2012

Oxana and moi in Kew Gardens, 2012

David Nash install, Autumn 2012

Cairn Column, David Nash, 2012

Masumi demonstrating her skills, 2011

Special dinner in the Temperate House, 2013
Christmas lights at Kew Gardens, 2013
Ending on a high - Rory McEwen's wall of tulips, 2013

So I have 19 working days left. I want you all to know that will always do my best to keep you informed about the upcoming exhibitions at Kew, whilst hopefully making Inky Leaves much more focused on my own work which, with any luck, is about to get the time it needs to really develop and grow.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

I should coco

A day off from the day job meant I had a juicy day in the studio yesterday and the opportunity of drafting in another leaf. I am enjoying trying to capture the leafy detail in this piece, but I am seriously missing my big pieces of paper and am not really enjoying working on the Artistico very much. It doesn't seem to take the paint off of my brush when I am trying to put in thin lines. I feel like I should have burnished the whole piece of paper first too. I think what I might do is invest in some stiffer brushes in order to get over the paper situation. It's odd really as so many people use it and I thought it would be ok, but now I remember how much I didn't get on with it when I used it for the ISBA Alphabet Project. Funnily enough the only times I have used it is when I have painted for a society - either the Irish Society of Botanical Artists or the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium! Something to  learn from there no doubt. 

So will I be using Artistico again? I should blooming coco!
Jessica Shepherd will be demonstrating her work in a pop up studio at the RHS

Sunday 6th July 2014
10am - 4pm

As part of the RHS' Secret Garden Sunday's, I will be setting up a pop-up studio in the Lindley Hall in Vincent Square, London. I will be on hand to answer your questions whilst demonstrating how I paint. My painting hours will be from 10am - 4pm. There will also be a selection of my cards and prints for sale, alongside my handmade bunting which is super for decorating the garden and house for summer parties.

You can find out more here:  

Visit the Magical Poetry Yurt
Heads up - as a special treat for this month, visitors will be able to enter a Magical Poetry Yurt at the show and listen to poet and Guardian columnist Paul Evans reading poems about plants from his new book Herbaceous.

So do come and visit if you can- it's a great day out with lots of tasty food and beautiful plants!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Introducing Coco...

Here she is in all of her glory! Who would have thought she could produce something so delicious?

So the time has come for me to get on with my botanical illustration piece for the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society. Every year, members and fellows of the Florilegium have to gift the Society/Garden with at least one painting of a plant from the Physic Garden. Over the decades of the society's existence, I think artists were generally allowed to pick what they wanted to paint from the garden, just as long as it hadn't been done before or wasn't in the process of being done, but this year, with the opening of the Garden of Medicinal Plants the Society has decided to focus on getting as many of the ethnobotanical plants documented as possible. This of course is joy to my ears, as economically useful plants are my favourite ones to paint. To me they have more personality and meaning.

Studying Coco in the Tropical Corridor at the Chelsea Physic Garden

After completing The Green Giant, I wanted to paint two other pieces to sit alongside it - a tea bush and a chocolate tree to make a triptych. So with this in mind I wondered if anyone had painted the chocolate tree at Chelsea Physic Garden and luckily no one had, so I put my name down pretty pronto!  I thought I could either hit two birds with one stone, or that the Chelsea piece would act as good preparation work.
Studying Coco in the Tropical Corridor at the Chelsea Physic Garden
There have been a number of times over my life when I have wanted to paint the chocolate tree. I have often tried to get up close to the one at Kew Gardens (and I still might use this tree for my triptych so it matches the coffee better) but the one at Kew is right at the back of the glasshouse and hard to reach without getting told off for stepping on the other plants. I also tried to paint the large one at the Eden Project, but at the time my now ex boyfriend was too busy trying to steal a pod and needed me to form a distraction further down the path. There is a big tree at Chelsea too (which I actually didn't know about until recently) in the tropical corridor, but as the Florilegium Society has strict guidlines on the size of paper you can use (yes, have had to 'downsize') I realised pretty quickly that what I needed to paint was a sapling, which ironically enough is what Caroline is too. 
The early stages of Chelsea Chocolate
So here is Coco the Chocolate Tree. I am calling this one 'Chelsea Chocolate' and am already really enjoying tackling the leaves. I am determined to get my leaves as good as Rory's one day and the only way is to look very hard at them. I didn't really look at the coffee leaves very well when I painted Caroline, but this time around I am making more of an effort. I am not sure if it is becuase of all the amazing colours that are present in the leaves of chocolate plant or if it is becuase I am keen to please the judges at the society!

What is so remarkable about the chocolate plant is that the new leaves are such an amazing colour of red/pink, which then changes to a yellowy lime green, which in turn changes again to a dark green towards the bottom of the plant. It's a real challenge to get this right in the painting, and as I have again chosen to paint this specimen with sunlight shining through the leaves, I have managed to make this doubly hard to myself (as per usual). I am not sure how three dimensional this painting will end up looking with all the multiple sources of light, but as I had to paint it in situ, I have little choice in the matter. Some members of the Florilegium can take cuttings home, but it seemed such a shame to prune any part off of Coco, so I made the effort of coming to her instead. 

Second day working on Chelsea Chocolate - the small size of paper is really hard work on. Plus I decided to work on Fabriano Artistico which I am not used to, just to increase the trickiness of getting this piece bang on perfect for the Florilegium! Call me a nutter.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Inspired by Shevaun Doherty

Inspired by Shevaun Doherty's recent blog post about painting in Egypt, I decided to post one of my old botanical illustrations from 2004. This is one of my first 'proper' watercolours - I was about 20 when I painted it and still at University. I think I was inspired after seeing a Delonix in flower after a recent field trip to Malaysia. Anyway, Delonix regia is most definitely one of my favourite trees (alongside Ginkgo biloba and Jacaranda) and I enjoyed seeing Shevaun's depictions of it so much that I wanted to highlight her post as something well worth reading to my readers. 

Once upon a time my grandma used to live in Cairo and I remember her bringing the pods from this tree back with her when she visited the UK. She frequently would then give them to me as presents when I was a little girl and I used to use them as maracas. I think my dad still has some sitting somewhere or other in the house. Anyway - hurray to the glorious Delonix for being so bright and beautiful!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Women Artists at the NHM

Fabulous podcast about the Natural History Museum's new exhibition 'Women Artists' - do listen if you can - Andrea Hart has many fascinating stories about the scientific illustrators and really brings the collections to life.

Heathland by Barbara Nicholson (1906-1978). Watercolour on board c1970-1977

A new art book - it's bound to be good!

The first rotation of artworks by women is on show in the gallery until the end of June 2014, so now is your chance to see it before it changes!

Botanical Art at the RHS Secret Garden Sundays

It's been a while since I have signed into the blogosphere it has to be said, but then I have been incredibly busy and other social networking sites have taken over becuase they have better apps for android tablets. Who would have thought such a technological rat-race would happen right in my hands?! And so sadly the blog was neglected for much of the Spring, but fear not my friends, for I have just logged in and will make more of an effort now I have the summer months ahead of me in the UK.

The Inky Leaves stand complete with 10% discount on prints and bunting to RHS members.
So what's new? Well Last Sunday I took part in my first RHS Secret Garden Sunday event in the Halls on Vincent Square (above). This was a brilliant event full of really interesting stands which were manned by very knowledgeable people. There are plant stalls, food stalls (of which I can vouch the food tasted amazing), tea stalls, seed stalls, cheese stalls, massage stalls, live music (this month it was folk group Effra), do-it-yourself craft stalls and a games corner! My favourite stand was the one for gardeners questions, which was manned by the RHS itself - a good one to remember if you are planning on coming to the next one which is on July 6th. I shall certainly be there on the 6th, and also again on August 3rd and November 2nd. The November one will be an rather grand affair no doubt as it has a special Christmas theme - great for present hunting...

Inky Leaves bunting in action in the garden £9.99/14 piece length (c.4m) Interested? Email me!

Other things from the Inky Leaves studio... well I have been gallivanting around California... as you do. This was JUST what I needed as I completely forgot about everything and after what was '2013' one can only say I needed to forget everything and start over - 2013 was indeed a toughy! So after driving 1500 miles around CA (well actually Henry did that bit) and taking in all the beautiful scenery (yeah, I mainly did this bit) I got back to the UK and did another application for a PhD. Lets see how this one develops... Same proposal, different University. In the mean time, I have managed to scoop up some commissions (which I seriously need to get going with), been grappling with the idea of submitting something to the RHS (still unsure about that though as it would be mean dismantling all my beautifully framed works) and I have been tending to the garden A LOT.
I could go on forever putting images of the wonders of CA up, so I will stick to exhibitions here... The two BEST shows where this one in The Autry in Los Angeles and the Underground Gardens in Fresno, the latter of which is a permanent attraction and well worth a visit. The place is great for botanical artists - so many amazing fruit trees and grafted trees there. You'd probably need to check with them first if you wanted to paint there though.
I have also been doing a lot of sewing and the boarder of 'London Love' is almost complete! YAY! Once this is done I will get on with the text and try to fit in a sky line.

London Love up close

London Love - a work in progress
It's been great reading about what everyone else has been up to while I have laid dormant, especially to hear about the SBA show which I sadly missed as I was across the pond as well as the ISBA's first big show. Well done to everybody - all of the work looked amazing.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Botanical Illustration - a dialogue with Hemlata Pradhan

A delightful interview with renowned botanical artist, Hemlata Pradhan,  about her subject, experiences and the scope of botanical illustration has just been published by Indian Botanists Online and you can find it here.Indian Botanists Online