J.R. Shepherd had an extremely successful solo exhibition called Leafscape at Abbott & Holder in Bloomsbury, London in February 2017.
I asked Jess for an interview because I wanted to try and convey the pathway to a virtually sold out exhibition in central London, how it all happened and everything that led up to it.
This is a very long read - but reading it will hopefully be very helpful for all those who aim to become a professional botanical artist and have a sell-out solo show!
I met with Jess (as I know her) after the exhibition closed - but before it was taken down - for an interview (see below)
You can see my video of the exhibition below. It's a slow pan round the two rooms at the top of Abbott and Holder where the exhibition was held. You can see Jess in the video. All wobbles and creaks are down to my handheld videoing technique.
Note the red spots!
The Leafscape project
The reason I asked for the interview is that I was enormously intrigued by the fact that this wasn’t just an exhibition. It was an exhibition with a lot of added extras.
Leafscape was an absolutely HUGE project that Jess managed on her own. She had to:
Moreover it was also very successful i.e.
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!
So who is this person who achieved so much - and how did it all happen?
I've come across an interview with Susannah Blaxill, the renowned Australian botanical artist who painted that beetroot! (which I wrote about earlier this year - see Susannah Blaxill's beetroot and a magnifying glass)
I found the interview today as a link on her website. I found it an absolutely fascinating and learned a lot - I hope you do too. You can also find Susannah writing about her art on her website
The interview between Susannah Blaxill and Zoneone Arts covers the following topics
There is nothing worse than discovering that something is not right when 50%, or even worse 90% of the painting is completed. It is actually a waste of time to rush this early stage.
I have found over the years that it is more important to give students information and skills that they can build on rather than attempting to encourage them to produce finished paintings.
I think that drawing and painting onion skin gives me more pleasure than almost anything else.
To depict in art the richness of an older face with all the signs of age is so much more interesting than the perfection of the skin of a super model. It is the same with plants – the dying leaves of the pear tree gives the artist so much more scope to explore the ravages of time.
NOTE: Zoneone Arts aims to is to provide online interviews that showcase the full range of contemporary arts and crafts happening in Australia and across the world.
You can find out more about other contemporary Australian botanical artists on my website.
The Chelsea School of Botanical Art is a blog post containing:
You can also find details about the School on this website - on the Diplomas and Certificates page
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Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
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