Friday, 17 April 2015

Überwältigende Blüten by Rosie Sanders

A new book is out by the marvellous Rosie Sanders. You can view the book here. It looks deliciously tempting. Might have to get one for my tea breaks.

£25.78 on Amazon with free delivery 

This is what Rosie has to say about her work for the publication: 

"With each picture I start a new language. Every time this feels strange - it is as if it is the first image that I have ever painted. The first steps can be extremely difficult, as there is only white paper in front of me and nothing to which I can relate, so I have to be very careful. It's only when I dive deeper into the work and a sense of order comes in to the picture when the language works and brings the image to life. If that happens, it can be very exciting!"

Rosie Sanders regularly paints Tulips, Iris', Anemones, Amaryllis', Roses, Orchids and Gladioli scaled up into enormous paintings. She is also often referred to in the botanical art world as the "master of light" because she frequently lights her subject matter from behind. Against the light the leaves and flowers appear transparent and start to reveal new colours and tones. It's rather magical. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Gossypium herbaceum

I am currently sat in my bedroom with the shutters down again. I'm listening to 90s trance after playing catch up on Radio 4. Never been a fan of Radio 4 if I am honest... too much talking - I find it difficult to listen to the conversation properly whilst painting. I have, however, become completely entranced with 'A Brief History of Ideas' this week, as they discuss what an IDENTITY is. Mum heard it first whilst working in her pottery and thought - 'gee whizz, Jess would like this' and sure enough I did. It's precisely the sort of thing I want to be listening too whilst working on my portraits. I recommend all the programmes.

Cotton (Gossypium herbaceum)
Cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) - a work in progress. Watercolour 21 x 29.7cm
So I am in my room becuase I am working on small things. A commission for a clothing magazine. There is a funny story that comes with this, as when I was in Granada with my cousin Poppy a few days ago we came across a cotton shop that had sprigs of a cotton plant in the window. I pointed it out to her and said 'THAT Poppy, you see it? THAT thing there! That is my WORST nightmare'. She looked at me perplexed. Realising that she didn't understand I said: 'Well, its white and its fluffy. You try and depict that in watercolour. The flowers are even worse as they are usually white or yellow'. She then nodded her head in agreement that the cotton plant is indeed a botanical artist's arch enemy.

Cotton in the shop window in Granada, my only source material out here!
Twenty four hours pass and the phone rings... it's a commission that I hoped would come in. Whoppeee! 'Oh no... what's that you say? Cotton?! You want me to paint cotton?!'. And so there you have it, the power of intuition.  This is a quick job, I have a fortnight to do it in before print, so I have had to get cracking, using images I have collected from my time in London. Not the way I really like to paint, but it's a fascinating project which I just so happen to be enjoying. I take it all back - cotton is actually really rather cosmic and very enjoyable to paint.  They have the most amazing, severely serrated bracts that contrast the soft fluffiness of the cotton bolls. 

So here are just a few of the paintings I have started over the past two days. Lets hope the company like them. They are all still very much works in progress, but you get the idea.

Cotton (Gossypium herbaceum)
Cotton buds (Gossypium herbaceum) - a work in progress. Watercolour 21 x 29.7cm

Cotton flower and seeds (Gossypium herbaceum)
Cotton flower and seeds (Gossypium herbaceum) - a work in progress.

Cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) - a work in progress.

Close up on developing cotton bud
Close up on developing cotton bud (Gossypium herbaceum)

Catalogue for the exhibition at the Jonathan Cooper Gallery

The Exhibition Catalogue for upcoming show at the Jonathan Cooper Park Walk Gallery in London is now available on issuu here. The show will be celebrating 25 years of the Shirley Sherwood Collection and is a must see for any botanical art fans. I myself am gutted that I can't go, as I got an invite in the post. Instead, I have to stay at home and look after my mum's new cat Jeremy. 

Jeremy looking suave

Jeremy looking rather rediculous

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Inky Leaves Mini Films

I have my cousin Poppy staying with me this fortnight. It's been brilliant having her around. She's been helping in the studio and been busy keeping me company - something I think I might have needed. She also provided me with an extra pair of hands, which subsequently meant that I could get some short films made...

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A Question of Identity Part Two

It has been exhaustingly silent on the Inky Leaf radio frequency this Easter but I can conciliate that it has been busy in my head (when is it ever not?!). As such, I have a lot to write about, but irritatingly, I can't seem to organise my thoughts and theories coherently into a blog post. I have been milling about everything for a number of days and well today I just decided I am going to have to bite the bullet and go straight in.

Parades in Granada during Semana Santa

So... where was I? Oh yes, last week I put Darth vader to one side as I just can't seem to conquer him right now and picked up my 'propaganda posters', which I also didn't finish. They are now currently all pegged on a washing line across my studio, staring at me accusingly. My back is to them when I paint. It's slightly un-nerving turning my back on eight versions of myself, but they all look so devoted to the cause that it's even more unnerving to look straight at them. The consequence of this is they are encouraging me to paint even when I am not in the mood. 

Wisteria which has just burst into flower right outside my window
So I began another load of work, this time for the RHS. I really want to submit some work to the Picture Committee this year. I have fannied around for long enough and I need something to focus on. I am therefore painting a huge Artichoke Leaf and a Wisteria. I am enjoying the leaf (quelle surprise). This was idea that popped into my head in October when I moved here and thankfully I have now found a window to get on with it. 

Artichoke Field just around the corner from our house
So yes, I was rather happily getting on with the leaf and then I entered another shadow phase and ever since then I have literally jumping in and out of the shade. I didn't want to mull around all week being idle - I have to get on with it, so I picked up a board and painted myself again. I suddenly found I was able to paint, even though I couldn't paint the leaf and this situation intrigued me. I found the entire process of doing a self portrait incredibly therapeutic and started to think back to the posters and then to all self portraits in general. I wondered if Van Gogh painted himself to deal with his black dog and then remembered Frida Kahlo and all of her paintings - the emotion, the turmoil. So to conclude this account, whilst watching a crucified Jesus being carried along the streets with men and women dressed in black dripping candle wax all over the floor, I have moved on from plants to people. 

Easter Sunday, the dress changes from black to white. These chaps with the pointy hats are called penitentes - they  are those who are doing penance for their sins. They wear the pointed hats to hide their identity.

Philosophy of the Self Portrait

So I ask myself - why am I painting myself? I hate myself. I suffer from a crippling low self esteem and I can't think of anything worse that to look at myself in depth. I realise though, that the answer is really quite simple - it is a question of existence. It's the spirit trying to show a body that it exists. Personally, for me, I get the feeling that this is a very serious stage in my development as both a human being and an artist, so I have to nurture it and give it the attention it needs. I can't turn my back on this requirement. I need to look at myself and draw a representation, whether it be true or fanciful. Maybe its all about finding myself so that I can do the other botanical works that my head wants to do. Maybe this is all part of the journey and I can't cross to the far shore until I have done this excruciating work on myself.

Popular trees just starting to come out into leaf at the beginning of last week
It is true to say that I have never taken any form of portraiture seriously, I always preferred Vincent's landscapes to his portraits, but that was because I was ignorant and I didn't grasp their true importance, or maybe I did understand them, but the ego rebelled. Now though, I feel understand... Whilst also healing themselves, artists such as Vincent and Frida used their own emotions, (rather than avoiding them), to make something which remains to be of useful to all of us. By representing their inner and outer selves and meticulously documenting the facets of their existence, they are able to communicate to the masses via an empathetic state which is beyond their physical being. To analyse oneself so thoroughly is deeply enlightening and, from what they have left behind in the material world, these artists continue to challenge our perceptions of reality and question where our identity lies.

Selfie - a work in progress
Regardless how much we try to change our appearance, we are trapped within our selves as our identity lies beyond the physical. Using art is an extension of our physical existence, I believe that we can travel time and space. We can project an idea, a moment, a feeling into the future and we can also review the past. I consider this to be an incredibly powerful tool. The self portrait therefore not only heals and reveals, it also communicates. Despite being a material object, it is almost as if the document were living and breathing. It's us, but with a superpower - as it also has the ability to travel beyond on another plane and enter worlds that are so very different to our own.   

So, with that in mind I feel I have to continue on the path of self portraiture. It's frustrating, as it wasn't what I wanted to do with my time, but I trust that the urge to look at myself in this way has occurred for a reason, and for that I have to embrace it with open arms and dive straight in.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

New Book by The Cheslea Physic Garden Florilegium Society

by Andrew Brown

Contributions from Christopher Bailes, Phillip Cribb and Anne-Marie Evans

Due out: May 2015

ISBN: 9781851497966
Publisher: Antique Collectors' Club
Size: 300 mm x 237 mm
Pages: 176 (78 colour illustrations)
Price: £35.00

I am rather excited about this upcoming publication. It will include several carefully selected plates taken from the garden's botanical illustration archive alongside information about the taxonomy and uses of the plants.

You glimpse inside the book on Amazon here and there is an information sheet here.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


Saw this pretty cosmic tool and thought some of you might be interested in it. It's not sort of thing if I am honest, but I can certainly see the appeal... 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Magdalena Franczuk and Ashkan Honarvar

I have always been a huge fan of collage so naturally I rather like the work of Magdalena Franczuk and Ashkan Honarvar. You can see more here if you are interested. Happy Easter! I am off to Granada now to watch the last of the processions.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A question of identity

On the day of the eclipse I opened an online account with a fictitious identity. I was pretty nervous doing it at the time. There was something in the back of my mind reminding me that over the past six months in Spain I have been trying to sew myself back together and become more whole and this latest course of action was seriously threatening the progress I had made. It made me feel more fractured. I considered the possibility that I might suddenly be feeling so confident with my persona that I was able to generate new virtual beings of myself. Obviously I soon realised that if I was that confident I'd own that facet of my identity and wear it like a badge of honour. 

My poppy red Dr. Martens on Brighton beach - my identity between 19 and 25 years of age.
Even before the eclipse, I'd started to question who I am as a person. When I moved to Spain I was still a fast paced, maniac with a broken heart and a fried head. Now, I am possibly more of a loon, just as broken, but less fried. Since being here I have regressed. Living with one's parents can make that happen, and so I feel like I have suddenly found an old version Jess. She's about five, pretty lonely, terribly shy and a big dreamer. I've not experienced this Jess since I lost my virginity (after that I became a bit bolshy). Like finding a lost teddy bear, it's comforting to have the five year old back.

So, after accepting this fact, which was pretty hard at first, as I saw it as a massive backwards step in my development, I began to think about what I wanted when I was a child. I remember I wanted to meet Queen Elizabeth I, see the dinosaurs (I would have made a great time lord) and visit heaven on a cheap day return ticket just to see what it was like up there. On a more serious note I did want to paint flowers, so, at least I have managed to integrate that into my older self.  I also wanted to improve the world and make it a gentler place... this one is going to take some time and even more love, but I am working on it. 

So after designing a series of logos and reading up on brands for this exhibition, I have begun to think more about my identity in definitive terms and have been busy translating my thoughts onto paper visually. There are of course many different facets and am representing each of these with slogans.

Here's the first. I am still working on it (need a gold pen and the shop is shut on a Sunday), but you get the general idea:

A little Chaos

Well, I love KW, I love gardening, I love history, I love a drama, I love kings and queens and I love France and I love a true story...

Looks good, lets hope it'll be shown in Kineapolis.

Review is in the Telegraph