I realise that there is a distinct lack of painting going on on this blog at the moment... can't be helped - we have leaves to post! This month I will be working hard to make sure that all the limited edition hard back books are shipped out to their new owners. I am also working hard on my new company called Inky Leaves Publishing which has been set up with the intention of working with other botanical artists who might want to publish a book. So there is a lot of work going on right now.
To be frank, the real reason the Inky Leaves blog is in total disarray is because 2017 has actually been quite a roller coaster emotionally. I am pretty exhausted after the Leafscape exhibition and yet not. Occasionally I can feel myself glazing over and it is during these times when I realise that I am actually pretty tired, but the thrill of undertaking a project such as this sort of over-rides it and I can keep going.
After the Leafscape exhibition ended and I got home after a couple of days of post-show interviews, I lay on the floor not really knowing what on earth had just happened over those two weeks. I had been in Abbott and Holder everyday meeting you all and felt rather happy in my little den upstairs. I was so overwhelmed after hearing about how far some of your had travelled to see the leaves. I had visitors from New Zealand, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, America and Australia. Some of you had driven miles in the storms, all the way from Scotland. It was utterly amazing seeing everyone in such a short space of time and to be able to listen to your stories and talk about botanical art and where it is going. I was visited by the second year students who are studying at the Chelsea School of Botanical Art and gave them a quick talk and then RHS weekend was a real buzz. I was lucky enough to see Rory's daughter, Samantha McEwen and eminent artists such as Rob Kesseler, Martin Sexton and Boyd and Evans and then Rachel de Thame popped with her daughter. Talk about a thrilling experience!
Being ripped away from it was traumatic to say the least, not because I didn't want to leave my leaves or because I was on some massive ego trip, sitting on my throne as the queen of bot. art, - no! It was because I was actually very happy being surrounded by the nurturing essence of Abbott and Holder in all its eccentricity and tradition. It is a mixture I like very much, it reminds me of my childhood. So yes, leaving them behind was pretty upsetting, but I managed to hold a stiff upper lip.
So then I got back to HQ with only three unsold paintings and stood in the middle of my temporary room staring blankly at the walls for a good solid ten minutes, not really able to think. Then I tried to think and work out what actually had just happened during the past fortnight. Stunned, I lay on the floor and decided to just stare at the ceiling instead. Then I howled for a bit then I got up off the floor and started signing books. Life goes on.
Maybe I will process everything when I am back in Spain. That'll be a weird five minutes won't it? Smelling the fire wood smoke and the dried paints in my studio for the first time in months. That'll surely hit a nostalgic nerve?! Yesterday I made the mistake of getting all of my old things out of storage, smelling it all. Inbetween the folds of forgotten fabric from my London home were pockets of forgotten time - a lost world - and yet it didn't sting my heart in the way nostalgia usually does. I realised the smells of fabric conditioner combined with Elizabeth Arden and old shower gels that had been trapped in the weave of the fabric smelt of a past life, of an old Jess and I guess I just didn't feel like I missed her that much. That was then and this is now.
So with both the slip boxes and postal boxes having arrived this week, I am now busy packing all the signed books into their packages with the CD inside. It's fun work. I am catching up on two months of radio broadcasting while I do it. Yesterday my house mate Holly Markham joined in on the action with her camera and took these shots. It was a gloriously sunny day outside and we took a short break on the beach. It is lovely to be by the sea again.
So there you have it. Inky Leaves is still busy beavering away... Hopefully by the end of the month I will be painting again. Watch this space.