People say that single moment in time can define your entire future. This defining moment for talented artist Jess Shepherd, aka Inky Leaves, happened in July 2014. At the time she felt that the condition of a leaf told her own story and decided to keep it. Painting this scruffy leaf gave birth to special addiction, which later became quite a passion for Jess. After months of creating these botanical paintings, all from different moments in time and place, she have created a compelling visual story.
In February Jess Shepherd will be holding her first solo exhibition of over 30 new watercolor paintings at Abbott and Holder in London. For this exhibition, she will explore her own vision of a botanical dystopia, challenging our sense of scale, its value and how we measure it.
I am an artist who specialises in painting large, realistic paintings of plants. As painter and curator, I try to adopt new contemporary approaches to my work to inspire people to think beyond their experience and highlight the importance of our environment.
What inspires me? That’s easy! is Nature! I had several sources of inspiration for Leafscape. Firstly there is always the work of artists, such as Rory McEwen, David Hockney and Richard Long. I am inspired by many artists, but I feel that these three inspired me the most when it came to this particular collection. Then I also arrived at several points just under my own pace. Ideas came to me slowly as a result of my experience on planet earth. Over the two years I painted and recorded Leafscape, I was living in two countries – England and Spain – and the collection is very much an autobiographical response to living a split life.Many of the leaves take on my own personality and how I was feeling at the time. The sound element of Leafscape is again a response to how I feel about living. The inspiration for this came from within me and my inability to filter sound effectively, which in turn influences how I interpret the world. In response to what I often feel as an uncomfortable jarring, or tsunami, of sound, I wanted to create something dystopian – something to reflect the lives of the leaves who are living on the ‘edge’ of our civilisation. Working with Derek Thompson, who has composed my sound recordings into a continuous ambient soundtrack, I feel that we have managed to do just that.
I am predominantly a painter, but I’ll use whatever gets the message across. Each collection carries it’s own message. This collection is about existence and what it is to live on the edge. I am exploring my own vision of a botanical dystopia, challenging our own sense of scale, its value and how we measure it. Through paint I can scale up, inviting you enter a space of exaggerated intimacy with the subject material which in turn makes you look closer at its delicate beauty. The collection, which uses both of sound and imagery, seeks to take us all on a perplexing botanical journey through time and space.
I have two projects that I am currently working on. Both are botanical and both are again about mankind’s interaction with plants. My intention is that one of these will be a global project, so rather large! I will also be working with flowers, which I am really looking forward to. Who wouldn’t?! If you want to keep up to date with my future work, the best thing is to follow me on social media. In the meantime however, I am still working on Leafscape as I launch my second kickstarter campaign to sell the soft back copy of the book.
Back Inky Leaves Botanical Paintings on Kickstarter!
Admiring Jess’s extraordinary botanical paintings is one thing, owning a limited edition botanical art book is something different entirely. By supporting her Kickstarter campaign you can be one of the first people to hold this fine print in your hands! To follow Inky Leaves work and progress check out her Facebook page. Finally, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts on these botanical paintings in comment section bellow.
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Visual content courtesy of J R Shepherd ©