Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The English Home magazine Issue 117

Just received my copy of The English Home magazine (November 2014, Issue 117) in the Spanish post today. Inside there's a great little piece by Jill Shearer on botanical art. I am also delighted to say that Inky Leaves also got a mention! I am naturally chuffed to bits.

Gallery talk from Laurence Hill

On the 8th October 2014, at 2pm there is an opportunity for you to join artist Laurence Hill as he talks about his large photographic work, ‘Fritillaria- a family portrait’, which is part of the current exhibition in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, ‘Inspiring Kew'.

Fritillaria family portrait by Laurence Hill

Fee: Its a free talk once you have paid for entry to the Gardens, booking required due to limited space. Please contact the gallery on 0208 332 3622 or shirleysherwoodgallery@kew.org to book a place.

You can find out more here.

Monday, 29 September 2014

La Fabula at la Finca 28 September 2014

On Wednesday it was time for me to wave a jolly good farewell to English shores. As I watched the docks at Portsmouth and HMS Victory disappear from view, I was filled with a good feeling. There was no sadness, just a strange type of openness which filled my heart. I have been living out of rucksacks for so long now, I have become accustomed to the life of a nomad and nothing appears to frighten me or make me feel unstable. I seemed to have learnt how to ground oneself without using the ground. 
View from our cabin on Brittany Ferries. Farewell Pompey!

So much of Wednesday was rather unproductive and I decided to catch up on much needed sleep whilst indulging in Leonard Cohen songs and some delicious vintage wine. I got the top bunk in what was a rather roomy cabin.

The sea was a millpond and we all slept rather well that night. There certainly is nothing better than being gently rocked to sleep in an air of delicious scent (I went a bit mad at the perfume counter before bed). Breakfast was fantastic (thank you Brittany Ferries) and fuelled with a full English breakfast, half a dozen chocolate croissants and a pot of tea we drove down from Bilbao to Granada in a day (well actually Andrew did. Mum was in charge of regular CD changes and I did sweet FA). We disembarked the ferry at Bilbao with a flock of Hells Angels at around 1pm and arrived in Granada at 11pm. Granada greeted us with an electrical storm of epic proportions. It was very dramatic and terribly exciting. In fact, one could almost describe the experience as Biblical, as by this time we were all indulging in a bit of Leonard Cohen and he was belting out the many verses of Hallelujah during this part of the journey in the middle of the night. God it gets dark here.

After dropping off all of our things in the new office on Friday, my mum and Andrew had to deliver the van back to its depo in Malaga, while I hitched a ride to our house in the mountains with all of the things we needed for our exhibition on Sunday. I'd just like to say a quick thing on van hire here, as its the only appropriate place. If you are planning a move similar to this one, I can say that we all think that using Way to Go van hire is a very good way of doing the move. It is much cheaper (£550.00 for 5 days) and the company was very helpful throughout. 

The entrance leading to the new 'Browse' office and the studios of both Kitty Shepherd and Inky Leaves. Santa Fe, Granada

My new place of work has the most amazing garden complete with an Indian Bean Tree (one if my favourite trees), a Magnolia grandiflora, a Horse Chestnut laden with conkers, two intact Canary Palms, Dahlias, Roses, Jasmine, Wisteria, Cycad and LAWN (as rare as hen's teeth down here) etc. The list of plants is endless...

Saturday was a bit of a nightmare... Prepping for an exhibition always is rather mad isn't it? And let me tell you, it's even worse when moving house... Word of practical advice, don't exhibit if moving house. So, with our labels printed and mounted onto foam board, our plinths primed and statements written we hiked over to the Finca del Castillo Arabe in the Valle de Lecrín on Sunday and set up. Yes, we are totally bonkers. Mum and I were going to hang our work on Saturday afternoon in preparation, but we had another storm and there was too much fog over the National Park for us to actually get through. We also experienced 6 power cuts. I think this is how we have to roll here in Spain...

Tables set up for lunch, art work on the walls. La Fabula at la Finca, La Finca del Castillo Arabe, September 2014

It was a fabulous day in the valley and an experience I will never forget. We had an eight course lunch by a top Granadian chef, Ismael Delagado Lopez, from La Fabula, which was utterly delicious and satisfied (what has recently become) my overwhelming need for posh nosh (London appears to have turned me into a food snob).  You can see some superb photographs of the dishes taken by Barbara Taylor-Harris here

Posh nosh, and VERY tasty too!
Throughout the day, Ophelia got to show off in her new frame which was very carefully constructed by the brilliant firm Bond-a-Frame in Chichester. I'm very grateful to them for not only mounting her in record time, but for exploring such bizarre framing options on my behalf. I am very much aware of what an unreasonable, picky customer I can be in framing shops and they were so tolerant of my demands! Thank you Bond-a-Frame, you did a superb job. I opted for the magic glass with Ophelia too, which is non reflective, UV filtered and is very special in that it doesn't alter the light and colours of the piece in the way normal glass does. Something to do with the composition or ratio of the silicon in it I think... Anyway, Ophelia is delighted with her special, slip mounted, box frame. 

Guests enjoying their Spanish nosh
Mum had a good show and managed to raise €210 for the local charity Acompalia through the sale of her mugs. I was sad to say farewell to this little tree, which also found a new home on that day. It's called The Magic Tree and it's magic.

Mum's magic tree

Systematics and Botanical Illustration

Day Meeting at the Linnean Society of London

Organised jointly by the Systematics Association and The Linnean Society of London
09:30 - 17:00 Thursday 29th January 2015
150129 Pic 1This is most certainly a date for your diary! A one day meeting at the Linnean Society which brings together a number of scientists with a broad range of contemporary research interests to discuss the inter-disciplinary relationships between monography, floristics, conservation, biogeography and botanical illustration. The meeting is held during the month in which botanical artist, Rosemary Wise, celebrates her 50th year as a working botanical artist. Consequently, the diverse range of speakers attending this event have been carefully chosen to reflect this special anniversary:
You can find out more here.
Registration is essential and costs £30 (this includes lunch and a drinks reception).

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Coronas and Cacaos

'Corona del Espinas', a work in progress. 

Close ups on the 'Corona del Espinas', (endive lettuce), J R Shepherd
So as you can see I've been keeping myself busy painting,  trying to get things completed before I leave the UK... I'm rather getting into the curly lettuce now, which is brilliant news as it was taking a long time to do and I beginning to regret ever starting it. Just goes to show you have to stick with something. I rather like all the sharp points now, viscous though they are, there's something rather therapeutic about facing up to them. It is so efffective I've even stopped listening to power ballads and classical music and am now back onto my more uplifting tracks, such as ''Laisse tomber me filles" by French Gall. Nice.

Alongside translating the lurid green leaves (almost glow in the dark shade) of this particular lettuce I've been tackling the strange and peculiar shades of Coco the chocolate sapling. Her greens change from a Cadmiumy Yellow to 'normal' green to Lemon yellow and then a peachy brown right at the top. I love the fact the upper young leaves come out so tanned and then change colour. It's all so very backwards! I wonder if its a tactic against herbivores? It's drooping leaves that give it an appearance of permenant wilting are certainly a put off. 

Close up on Coco the Chocolate Plant, J R Shepherd (Cocoa theobroma)

Coco the Chocolate Plant, J R Shepherd (Cocoa theobroma)

Coco the Chocolate Plant, J R Shepherd (Cocoa theobroma)
So Coco will be going up to London soon to be scanned in before she gets handed in to the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society. I'll be sad to see her go, which is why I thought I'd scan her in. I hope to use her as a refence piece for a bigger, better chocolate too.

Right, now it's time to cycle into town to get my eyes tested at Specsavers (always a worry with the work I do that they've got worse) and to have a celebratory lunch time beer if they are ok.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Upcoming botanical art exhibitions

18th September – 18th December, 2014
The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

'Dangerous Beauty: Thorns, Spines and Prickles'

30th August - 30th September 2014
Gill Jelley and Kate Steel
The Savill Garden, Egham, 
10am-6pm daily

23rd October to 29th October, 2014
Aldeburgh Gallery, Suffolk
The Aldeburgh Gallery,
143 High Street, Aldeburgh, Suffolk IP15 5AN

'Guy Williams Eves – Solo Exhibition'

Fir by Guy Williams Eves

23rd October – 23rd November, 2014
Society of Botanical Artists
Exhibition at Palmengarten Botanical Gardens, Frankfurt, Germany

'Medicinal and Poisonous Plants'

Rotations of this exhibition run until February, 2015 Natural History Museum
Blue Zone
'Artworks by Women – Images of Nature'

ESBA Annual Exhibition September 2014

The annual exhibition of the Edinburgh Botanical Art Society opens on the 5th September and will feature the work of 15 artists. Its well worth a visit as I've seen the work they do and it's spectacular. The Society was formed as an Alumni Association for the graduates of the Rotal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's botanical illustration course. 

I used to watch these students paint in the big old fashioned classroom when I was studying for my Masters in Botanical Taxonony. Its a great room and remibded me of something you might find in a Harry Potter film. Anyway, at the time I renenber being completely dumbfounded by their ability to paint something so beautiful and accurate. It was then when I first began to question my path as a botanist/scientist and wondered if I should be doing something similar... So if you are in the area why not pop in? Or make a weekend of it... Edinburgh's a super city.

The exhibition is at Gallery 17 on Sunday Street from Friday 5th to Sunday 14th and is open from 10am - 5pm daily.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Anon's Progress

Its reckon this will be a pretty bad image for most of you, so I'll keep it short. This is what I'm working on now - a bit different to Ophelia! It's a curly lettuce, A1 in size to sit with Cos.

I've been calling this one 'Anon' because I couldn't find an appropriate name for it... It is also still very much an 'it' this piece, more if a feeling / experience, but I think I've finally rrived at a title: 'Corona de Espinas'. I think what took me so long was facing up to the fear. It's also what is making this one so hard to paint. Its a bit of a scary lettuce.