Breckland or the Brecks is a wild landscape of dark forests, open heathlands, sandy soils and iconic belts of pine trees that straddle the Suffolk and Norfolk border. On the edge of the vast Thetford Forest lies Brandon Country Park, a beautiful location, particularly at this time of the year. Naturally, I had my camera with me and here is one of the photographs I took this morning, just as the sun appeared. For the photographers who may be interested, I was using the Panasonic Lumix G9 and Olympus 12-40 lens.

I am reliably informed that Autumn is the best season for finding unusual Funghi in the forest and I wasn’t disappointed; there were mushrooms in abundance. In retrospect, I really should have brought along my macro lens and tripod but this handheld shot will give you an idea of what you can find.

Amanita. muscaria is a bright red-and-white mushroom, and the fungus is psychoactive when consumed…..you have been warned.

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‘Neu Wald’

This highly textured painting on a solid oak block has just been sold to a collector in Scotland. Oak has a very dense grain and provides a resilient surface for the cold wax process. A variety of tools can be used with confidence to create a range of natural textures and fine surface markings. Multiple layers of wax have been used to generate the illusion of depth and translucency.

‘Neu Wald’ (detail)

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I spent a number of days walking amongst the trees and gathering information for a series of paintings through drawing and photography; I absorbed the sights and sounds of the trees in the forest and found a way to recreate something of that experience in paint.

I am interested in surfaces and textures and the way materials can be combined to create tactile qualities. Cold wax can be applied in thin layers or heavy impasto. It can be scored, scoured and burnished like a rich stoneware ceramic glaze; it can left dry, broken, fragmented and uneven. I have included up a number of close up photographs to give some indication of the extremely rich and highly textured surface of the painting; you can also begin to see in the reflections, the depth and lustre contained in the burnished wax.

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
’Til it’s gone…

Joni Mitchell, from “Big Yellow Taxi,” lyrics written circa 1967–68

Photograph New Forest Tree black & white texture
Photograph of New Forest Tree

I have just started a 2 week artists residency in the New Forest in Hampshire and I feel energised by the possibilities. I will be posting a series of images based on my day to day experience of being here, in this ‘place’. My main intention is to produce a series of paintings that say something about the New Forest; not a new ambition by any means….but I will also be using photography to document my thoughts and ideas. I just need to allow myself to be absorbed by what I see and feel, to literally just be here… Let’s see what happens.

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This is a large mixed media painting on a 122cm x 92cm professional quality canvas. It is partly expressionistic, partly impressionistic in terms of technique and style. The media, including bitumen, thick acrylic paint and an assortment of organic debris collected from the forest floor are applied with a variety of tools including brushes and palette knives. The surface is built up in quite heavy impasto and alternately glazed over a period of time. In places, the surface has been scorched with a heat gun to create unexpected interactions of materials and paint.

I have been influenced by the contemporary artists Anselm Kiefer and Gerhardt Richter. If you have a moment, take a closer look at the detailed photographs to gain a more tangible sense of the textural qualities in this work.

Thetford Forest is the UK’s largest man made lowland forest with 18,730 hectares to explore. It was originally planted to aid the UK war effort. In common with many areas of East Anglia – including the reclaimed Fenlands – it is essentially a fictional world, artificial, planned and designed to resemble a forest. That it also happens to be an area of outstanding ‘natural’ beauty is a poetic irony. When I visited the Forest a couple of weeks ago for inspiration, I was informed by ‘Forest Rangers’ that the area I had just entered was private….I wasn’t happy but made my apologies and left. What part of rural England in the 21st Century England can we call ours?

http://www.artfinder.com/marketing/artwork/forest-0155/?scheme=dark&user_id=571453&size=large