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.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Ophelia and I have moved on

So Philly and I have moved on from Chopin, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky to good old 1980s Power Ballads. It's great and we really are getting to grips with things. So here's an updated photo. Not sure on the overall quality of this photograph as I haven't a PC to check it on (it is currently packed in a box heading for Spain) and I only have my tablet...

She's still not finished, but we are most definitely on the home straight now. For those of you who didn't see me start this piece back in April at the RHS botanical art show in London, its pretty large - roughly A1 in size.

I will be taking limited edition (20) prints of this piece at the same size. If you are interested I'd love to hear from you. Please email me (mail@inkyleaves.com).

Friday, 29 August 2014

Listening to everything in a minor key

So it's been a while hasn't it?! Thought it was probably time to check in and write a little update. Since I last wrote quite a lot has happened... I had a lovely little trip to Galacia at the beginning of August and then I had two days in London where I tied up all loose ends before catching the train to Bognor Regis - my hometown. For the next two days I caught up with my dad and started my intensive driving course. On the Saturday night I then zoomed back up to London and I came back down to Worthing on the Sunday with all of my things and dearest Henry. Then I went back to Boggers to finish my driving course. I passed... phew! So that was a mega week. My brain was fried with everything that's been going on in my personal life, and learning to drive on top of all of that in such a short space of time was hard going. I am really glad that I passed though as it is really going to help me with pretty much every endeavour in the future.

I passed! Thank you Bank Holiday/Goodwood Racing/Arundel Festival traffic!
So, since passing and having a fun day out with dad and his crowd from The Alex to the Arundel Festival* I have moved to my mum and step dad's flat in Worthing. This is great as I can now paint and heal. This no longer involves indulgent foods and alcohol. The process has developed and I am now in my 'music phase'. There is rarely a moment when my headphones aren't in my ears. This must really annoy the people around me, but it's essential. 

So, alongside indulging in music I have been busy trying to finish Ophelia. I have found completing this piece very restorative and I am glad that I hadn't finished it earlier on the year as I had originally hoped. For me, this piece is about the power of femininity, creativity and transformation. Calling her Ophelia is a bit of name-play.

Ophelia the Orchid (Phalaenopsis sp.) Started at the RHS' Botanical Art Show Pop-up Studio
It does seem to be taking a long time to complete this piece. I think this is because I have become rather too accustomed to painting leaves and I'm just not used to working with so much pink! These petals are very different - very whole with little interruption along the surfaces. Big washes are needed and lots of time for drying. The amazing thing about this big beauty is how much yellow she has in her layers. I am mainly using my very old Daler Rowney paints for this one... Permanent Rose, Rose Madder, Phtalo Blue, Ultramarine, and W&N Transparent Yellow. In the green places I have the same colours, but in different proportions. I try not to add too many colours on one piece and stick to a limited palette. It's bad enough having five brushes in one hand, let alone tons of colour mixes! Well that's what I think anyway... The really funny thing is I have got a really big brush for these big washes and I can't really get it in my mouth when I am using the smaller brushes. I tend to bite on my brushes a lot you see, like a dog with a bone. It's useful as an extra hand, but sadly I am struggling with the 5-brush tactic this time around...

Close up on the Orchid
Right-e-o, I think that's enough of an update from moi. I hope to update again a few times before my move to Spain on the 24th September. Don't forget that Inspiring Kew opens tomorrow!! I probably won't be going up to London as originally hoped, so I eagerly await to hear all about it from you...

* I highly recommend visiting the Arundel Festival. It's a brilliant arts-based trail and features some of the best artists in the area. Arundel itself is a beautiful town and over the weekend you also get to see musicians, performance artists and taste some very tasty food!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Coco's progress

It's Tuesday and I am getting ready to go to Spain on a little trip. This isn't the big move, more of a 'toe dip'. I am seeing my house mate Catuxa who kindly bought me a ticket to go and see her as a thank you for helping her with her PGCE and QTS work. Isn't that a lovely thing to do?! So, in between trying to cram in as much as possible into a teeny hand luggage bag and decanting all of my Green People sun cream into 100/50ml bottles, I am slowly getting Coco completed.

Leaves close up - apologies for bad photograph, light in my bedroom isn't as good as the studio and I have a very old camera as my new one broke.
It appears I have at last worked out why I couldn't paint on the Fabriano Artistico paper - it was not only because I insisted on working on a drawing board rather than flat, but also because I am very naughty (tight) when it comes to buying new brushes. Knowing I am going to move to Spain, I decided to splash out on a load of brushes the other day. I was going to save them, but on my return from the shop I couldn't paint using the older brushes with the shiny new ones staring straight at me with their pointy heads and clean bristles! I succumbed to temptation and broke four new brushes in. WOW! It was amazing and I can now say that Artistico isn't that bad after all. I can also say that I am now promising myself to buy new brushes more regularly than before. A lesson learnt!

A close up on the leaf with the sun shining through it.
So here is Coco - I managed to get quite a bit done at the RHS on Sunday which is good and then again yesterday and today. Actually yesterday was a pretty non-productive day as I was too busy house-packing, emailing and getting my Euros sorted out, but anyway - you get the idea.

Again - rubbish photo - I blame the camera and my dimly lit room... 
I am going to work late tonight with the hope I can sleep on the plane. Might try and get that other leaf on the left done now I appear to be in the groove of working with these lighter more lurid shades of green. The types of green you get with the sun shines through leaves. It's a really tricky green to get right and I know I still haven't got it right, but I think it's better than the green I used on the The Green Giant, so I am getting there... if a little slowly.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Florum Exhibition September 2014

an annual exhibition inspired by plant life

Detail on Araucaria by Julie Small ©

6th - 13th Septmeber 2014
10-5 daily

Kent Wildlife Trust Sevenoaks Reserve
Bradbourne Vale Road

More than 60 invited artists will be showing their work in this botanically-themed exhibition. All of the works will be for sale including prints and cards. Admission to the show is free, so why not have a nice day out in the glorious Autumnal weather and maybe do a spot of blackberry picking on the way?

"Florum was the inspiration of Elizabeth Smail FLS FSBA. Together with Guy Harrison she had successfully run The 'Flora' Botanical and Flower Exhibition at the Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve. When the Reserve passed to Kent Wildlife Trust Elizabeth proposed a similar exhibition there for 2003 and 'Florum' was born. Elizabeth's death in 2012 left everyone sad but determined to continue the exhibition in her name."

Cintiq Drawing Board

What do artists do all day’ on BBC4 is one of my favourite programmes. The other week they were following Polly Morgan in her studio which was really fascinating. She is one of my favourite artists and it was therefore great seeing how she thinks and spends her day and in what type of space. So yes, I was watching this programme on artist Frank Quietly yesterday and I was really intrigued by the piece of equipment that he was using.

Cintiq 24 HD touch
So yes, the piece of technology that I was pretty impressed with is I think a Wacom device, but I might be wrong. It might be a Cintiq 24 HD touch. It looks like a big digital drawing board. Pretty impressive. Watching Frank Quietly use his techno-drawing board was really interesting. I know he is a comic artist, so a bit different to the art we discuss here, but if you have the time I recommend watching this program and see how he draws on it in lines. His work ethic is very impressive too!

I am probably way behind the times, but I thought I'd share this as it is interesting and now I know about it I want to talk about it. Does anyone have any experience of using something like this?

“Cintiq 24 HD touch: most advanced, pressure-sensitive pen combined with intuitive, multi-touch capabilities deliver an on-screen creation experience that’s so natural and seamless, it feels like an extension of your senses.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Plants in space number two

So I have just found the most amazing thing EVER! Please watch the video above - it might not be botanical art, but it is so very cool. It completely expands on what is possible. The film features the work by Julian Melchiorri and describes his Silk Leaf project, a piece which he developed as part of the Royal College of Art's Innovation Design Engineering course. The product of his studies on this course is the Silk Leaf - a pseudo-leaf which is made out of chloroplasts that are suspended in a matrix of silk protein. I am so impressed by this creation. Julian's grand idea is that this matrix could be used on all sort of things, such as cladding for large buildings or as a material for interior design, all of which could really help to address our CO2 build-up issue. Grand ideas indeed! But further to this he has even proposed the possibly of using this matrix in space to facilitate life in the cosmos. My only gripe is that we might have a problem in obtaining water out there in the abyss to make such a venture feasible, but I am sure that when there's a will there's a way.

All I want to know now is if this leaf can die like other leaves, or does it just keeping living?Wow, it's like having your very own botanical tamagotchi!

Melchiorri's Silk Leaf.