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A collection of botanical paintings that allows you look closer at the beauty of nature.
A collection of botanical paintings that allows you look closer at the beauty of nature.
439 backers pledged £24,867 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Leafscape - a limited edition art book by Inky Leaves project video thumbnail
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£24,867

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My name is Jess Shepherd (aka Inky Leaves), I am a botanical painter and I would love to have your support to help turn an illustrated book into a reality.

Here I am with one of my paintings of an artichoke leaf
Here I am with one of my paintings of an artichoke leaf

Wow, that leaf behind you is huge!

Yes, it's a whopper isn't it?! I have been busily painting over 30 of these giant leaves with all their details for the past 18 months. Now nearing completion, this collection of leaves will be exhibited in a solo exhibition at Abbott and Holder in London between 16-25 February 2017. Most of them are supersized and very different to traditional botanical paintings in their scale. 

Leaf 041120151155, Poplar (Populus x canadensis), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper
Leaf 041120151155, Poplar (Populus x canadensis), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper

Capturing the essence of a leaf 

This collection of paintings is a chronicle of discovery. The story began when I picked up a leaf from a London pavement in July 2014. At the time I was moving house and felt that the condition of the leaf told my own story. It had been scuffed by the streets of the city and was no longer attached to the tree, but blowing across the floor in the wind. Like me, it was on the move. 

After carefully painting this leaf I was drawn to paint another and another. Eventually, after months of painting these leaf portraits, all from different moments in time and place, I have created a visual story.  

For the past two years I have also collected all the environmental sounds from where each leaf was growing. The resulting soundtrack is now being arranged by musician Hoodlum Priest in his Brighton recording studio in England. I bring you sounds from London’s East End, where the journey begins, to the Sussex seaside and down to Granada in Spain where you can hear birdsong and the rhythmic clanging of goat bells. The idea of recording sound introduces a completely new element to botanical art.     

If successful, this Kickstarter Project will help me to produce 500 copies of a beautifully laid out book and soundtrack that tells the 'Leafscape' story; marking an historical moment in the lifeline of botanical art.

Leaf 100820151542, Yellow Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on Paper
Leaf 100820151542, Yellow Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on Paper

What is 'Leafscape'?

'Leafscape' is my way of catapulting botanical art into the 21st century with the use of sound and watercolour paint. The collection is a journey through a botanical dystopia, where leaves can be found growing on the margins of human civilisation. My driving ambition has always been to show the world how beautiful nature is in the most unexpected ways. In all of my work I try to give plants a voice.

Leaf 250220162005, Ginkgo1 (Ginkgo biloba), 33 x 55cm, Watercolour on paper
Leaf 250220162005, Ginkgo1 (Ginkgo biloba), 33 x 55cm, Watercolour on paper

What will the book look like?

This book will be limited to only 500 copies and will have a white cloth hardcover with embossed foil text on the front and sewn binding to create a highly collectable volume. The book itself will measure 215 x 300mm (8.35 x 12 in), consist of approximately 60 pages and will be printed using litho press. The book will feature an introduction written by the artist in both English and Spanish and will have a full colour plate of every painting in the collection. Included with this book will be a copy of the environmental soundtrack on CD. Each book will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request. 

STRETCH GOALS!

If we smash through £20k then I will add a beautiful slip box to every deluxe limited edition book sold. The book designers are confident that they can produce something very special. To help this along I have decided to release as rewards my two beloved Ginkgo leaves and a giant Poplar Leaf which are original watercolours and are both featured in the book.

I am also gifting 11 copies to the following institutions with public libraries so that the book can be still be seen by those with an interest in scientific illustration, botany and fine art: 

The British Library

The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

New York Botanic Garden

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Denver Botanic Gardens

The Linnean Society of London

Real Jardín Botánico in Madrid

Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society London

The Duchy of Cornwall

The Chelsea Physic Garden

Leaf 181120141339, Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper
Leaf 181120141339, Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper

How are you printing this book?  

I have chosen to print this book lithographically as it produces a superior product. Using real inks, this form of printing will ensure that the paintings in the book will look more vibrant and true to life.  

Leaf 300720150946, Green Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), 76 x 56 cm, Watercolour on Paper
Leaf 300720150946, Green Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), 76 x 56 cm, Watercolour on Paper

What will be on the audio CD?

The continuous 60 minute CD soundtrack documents the outside sounds taken from where each leaf was growing at the time it was found. Tracks vary from birdsong, running water and the cicadas in Spain to the hustle and bustle of the streets of London. The disc will come with it's own protective envelope in the back of the book.

 

Leaf 250220162008, Ginkgo2 (Ginkgo biloba), 33 x 55 cm, Watercolour on paper
Leaf 250220162008, Ginkgo2 (Ginkgo biloba), 33 x 55 cm, Watercolour on paper

 Why are you using Kickstarter and not a publisher?

I thought a long time about whether to offer this book to a mainstream publisher, but I wanted to create a unique, beautiful volume for my supporters and not submit to the compromises of the marketplace. By using Kickstarter I can maintain creative control and personally assure product quality. 

Leaf 071120151031, Brown Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), 76 x 56 cm, Watercolour on Paper
Leaf 071120151031, Brown Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), 76 x 56 cm, Watercolour on Paper

Q&A: If you have any questions at all about the rewards or exhibition, don't hesitate to message me through Kickstarter, I'd be happy to walk you through the process and talk about the work.

Leaf 041120151204, Grape Vine (Vitis vinifera), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper
Leaf 041120151204, Grape Vine (Vitis vinifera), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper

Spread the Word:  I am the only one managing this project, so there's a lot of communication required on my part to spread the word. So please feel free to encourage others to get involved as the success of this campaign will directly determine what we can accomplish together in 2017. Kickstarter has very kindly supplied us with a 'share' button at the top of this page for you to use.

You can follow my work on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you so much for your support. I am looking forward to getting to know you in the months to come.

Working on one of the larger leaves back in March 2016
Working on one of the larger leaves back in March 2016

 Acknowledgements:

A big thank you to Andrew Burton of Browse Digital for all of the design work, Hoodlum Priest for CD production and Peter Clitheroe of Outhouse Filmworks for producing the video for this campaign.

Leaf 120820141314, Ricin (Ricinus communis), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper
Leaf 120820141314, Ricin (Ricinus communis), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper

  

Leaf 041120151206, Green Grape Vine (Vitis vinifera), 76 x 56 cm, Watercolour on paper
Leaf 041120151206, Green Grape Vine (Vitis vinifera), 76 x 56 cm, Watercolour on paper

  

Leaf 200720140950, Brick Lane Catalpa (Catalpa bignoinoides), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper
Leaf 200720140950, Brick Lane Catalpa (Catalpa bignoinoides), 76 x 56cm, Watercolour on paper

 

Leaf 041120151203 Poplar 3 (Populus x canadensis), 90 x 120cm, Watercolour on Paper
Leaf 041120151203 Poplar 3 (Populus x canadensis), 90 x 120cm, Watercolour on Paper

 

Risks and challenges

The printer who will produce the book and greetings cards has been identified. We have samples of the paper and binding and I will be colour proofing the printed images before the main print run goes ahead to ensure quality. The printers are local and I have used them in the past with other printing requests. This makes it easier to tackle any problems that occur during printing, whilst also supporting a local business.

The printer who makes the fine art prints that come with some of the rewards is also local and someone I have used for the past six years. He scans and colour balances every piece with the original next to him so that all colours match. I have samples from his handy work and consider him incredibly professional and reliable.

All of the books and prints will be shipped with insurance and will be securely packaged.

The paintings for the book are complete, but I have taken into account possible delays in the design and printing schedule due to any unforeseen circumstances when setting the delivery date for the books.

I've never printed a book before and I know that any new venture incurs a risk. To ensure this project works out I have decided to work with a local printing company that specializes in helping independent creators publish crowdfunded projects. I'm going to be leaning on their expertise to make sure that everything runs smoothly.

Will this be late?

I of course hope not. However I do promise to be transparent and as helpful as I can during and after this project.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.22

    MP3 download

    A great way to follow and support the project. As a thank you, you will receive a link to download the Leafscape soundtrack digitally.

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    Pledge £12 or more About $15

    Set of ten greetings cards

    A set of ten digitally printed A6 greetings cards with envelopes, each featuring a different leaf painting on the front. Blank inside. You will also receive a link to download the Leafscape album digitally.

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    Pledge £30 or more About $37

    One deluxe limited edition book

    One deluxe edition of 'Leafscape': an A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with this book is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    Shipped tracked and signed for.

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    Pledge £40 or more About $49

    One deluxe book with greetings cards

    One deluxe, limited edition, A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with this book is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    PLUS a set of ten A6 greetings cards with envelopes, each featuring a different leaf painting on the front. Blank inside. You will also receive a link to download the Leafscape album digitally.

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    Pledge £55 or more About $67

    Two delux limted edition books

    Two deluxe limited editions of the A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with both books is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    Shipped tracked and signed for.

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    Pledge £60 or more About $73

    One deluxe book with one A4 print

    One deluxe, limited edition, A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with this book is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    PLUS one A4 sized limited edition print of a leaf featured in the book. You will be able to choose which print you'd like to have (either Oak – Green Grape Vine – Yellow Catalpa - Green Catalpa - Poplar - Judas - Ricin - Sycamore - Artichoke - Gunnera - Brown Catalpa - Grape Vine or Brick Lane Catalpa) at the end of this campaign. Each print is signed and numbered.

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    Pledge £110 or more About $134

    One deluxe book with three A4 prints

    One deluxe limited edition of the A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with this book is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    PLUS three A4 sized limited edition prints of three of the leaves featured in the book and a handwritten card of thanks. Prints included in this reward are: Oak – Green Grape Vine – Yellow Catalpa. However please contact me if there are particular prints you would prefer. Each print is signed and numbered.

    Ships tracked/signed for.

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    Pledge £130 or more About $158

    One deluxe book with one A2 print

    One deluxe, limited edition, A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with this book is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    PLUS one A2 sized limited edition (of 10) print of a leaf featured in the book and a handwritten card of thanks. You will be able to choose which print you'd like to have (either Oak – Green Grape Vine – Yellow Catalpa - Green Catalpa - Poplar - Judas - Ricin - Sycamore - Artichoke - Gunnera - Brown Catalpa - Grape Vine or Brick Lane Catalpa) at the end of this campaign. Each print is signed and numbered.

    Ships tracked/signed for.

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    Pledge £300 or more About $366

    One deluxe book with ten A4 prints

    One deluxe limited edition of the A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with this book is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    PLUS ten A4 sized limited edition prints of ten leaves featured in the book and a handwritten card of thanks. Prints included in this reward are: Oak – Green Grape Vine – Yellow Catalpa - Green Catalpa - Poplar - Judas - Ricin - Sycamore - Artichoke - Gunnera. However please contact me if there are particular prints you would prefer. Each print is signed and numbered.

    Ships tracked/signed for.

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    Pledge £500 or more About $609

    One deluxe book with five A2 prints

    One deluxe, limited edition, A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with this book is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    PLUS five A2 limited edition prints of the leaves featured in the book and a handwritten card of thanks. You will be able to choose five different leaves from Oak – Green Grape Vine – Yellow Catalpa - Green Catalpa - Poplar - Judas - Ricin - Sycamore - Artichoke - Gunnera - Grape Vine - Brown Catalpa - Brick Lane Catalpa. Each print is signed and numbered.

    Ships tracked/signed for.

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    Pledge £750 or more About $914

    One deluxe book with original painting

    One deluxe, limited edition, A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with this book is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    PLUS the original, unframed watercolour painting of Ginkgo 2 ‘250220162008’ (Ginkgo biloba) which measures 33x56cm (13x22in) and is in the book. The painting is signed and painted on archival, heavy weight, cotton rag paper. There is a photograph of the painting in the project story towards the end. If you’d like more photographs, I am happy to email them to you - please message me through Kickstarter. This reward will also come with a handwritten card of thanks from the artist.

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    Pledge £1,800 or more About $2,194

    One deluxe book with original painting

    One deluxe, limited edition, A4-sized, black linen-bound, hard back book featuring all of the artist's watercolour paintings in the collection. Included with this book is an audio CD made by the artist. Every book in this limited edition (500 copies) will be signed and numbered by the artist and can be personalised at your request.

    PLUS one unframed 76 x 56cm (30 x 22in) signed watercolour painting of a leaf to be painted after the exhibition on archival, heavy weight, cotton rag paper. Painted to order. Comes with a handwritten card of thanks from the artist.

    PLUS You will be acknowledged in the back of the book (if you are happy for me to).

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Funding period

- (34 days)