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Jessica Tcherepnine, Exacting Botanical Artist, Dies at 80

In 1982, she left her job to focus full-time on botanical painting.

“When I am doing a painting, my subject is the last thing I look at before I go to bed and the first thing I look at when I get up in the morning,” Ms. Tcherepnine wrote in the article for the American Society of Botanical Artists. “And I am thinking about it in between.”

She painted in her apartment in Manhattan and in her home in Millbrook, in Dutchess County, N.Y., sometimes with a flower in one hand and a brush in the other. Her subjects included flowers from her garden and exotic plants she found in Florida and the West Indies.

“I have painted practically everything I can get hold of, from magnolias to beets to dandelions and skunk cabbage,” Ms. Tcherepnine wrote, adding that her focus had evolved to depicting sculptural elements, like the seed pod of the West Indian fruit ackee. “You have to paint what speaks to you.”

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a sister, Hermione Karlin; a brother, Jonathan Harris; a stepdaughter, Samantha Tcherepnine, and three step-grandchildren.

Last year, Ms. Tcherepnine donated the use of her portraits of a garden beet, quince, apple, hydrangea, banana and a woods’ rose for note cards by CurePSP, an advocacy organization that seeks to combat so-called prime of life neurodegenerative diseases like corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy.

“Even as her physical capabilities diminished, her intellect remained crystalline and her sly English sense of humor intact,” David Kemp, president of CurePSP, wrote in an email, recalling her visits with her. “She was the Audubon of plant life.”

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