41220151708 Curled Indian Bean Tree Leaf (Catalpa bignonioides) 37° 10’ 31.3” N / 3° 41’ 28.7” W
Signed and inscribed Jess Shepherd / 041220151708 in pencil at the lower left.
Further inscribed, signed and dated Catalpa bignonioides / Found while I was raking the back / garden in Belicena, Granada, Spain. / Jess Shepherd / 2015 in pencil on the verso.
128 x 188 mm. (5 x 7 3/8 in.) [sight]
138 x 209 mm. (5 3/8 x 8 1/4 in.) [sheet]
As her work and technique have been described, ‘her under-the-microscope watercolour paintings of leaves in varying degrees of decay glow with carefully captured texture, light and life…Shepherd works for up to 10 hours a day meticulously layering sometimes as many as 30 translucent washes of watercolour. She usually outlines the leaf, the midrib and the primary veins in pencil but will do a lot of the drawing after this stage in paint with a brush. “This is my way of avoiding graphite, which can dirty the colours when painting with watercolour.” She also learned…that burnishing the paper helped maintain the vibrancy and luminescence of pigments.’
The titles of Romero's watercolours reflect the precise circumstances of her contact with the particular leaf depicted. As she notes, ‘Life just seems so incredibly random and yet not. Once I started questioning mankind's use of scale and measurement to record size and space, I realised that to refer to time as a measurement in the collection was an absolute must. So the titles record the exact time I found the leaf.’ The present sheet was painted in Granada in Spain, as the artist recalled, ‘The leaf was from a Catalpa tree growing in the garden. The leaves would fall off from the tree and dry so quickly in the sun that they would retain their colour for months afterwards, thus making the ideal specimen from which to paint from.’
The Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioides) is native to the southeastern United States but was introduced into England in the early 18th century, and is now widely found throughout Europe.
As the artist has stated, ‘I trained in botany before committing myself fully to painting so that I would understand the processes of plants more comprehensively. Equipped with this scientific knowledge, I am now testing new approaches to my artwork to push the capacity for botanical illustration to bring greater awareness of plants and our interaction with them. I hope to inspire people to think beyond their experience whilst enriching our current perceptions of botanical illustration, its applications and how it sits within the larger scope of the visual arts.’