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
Reference material for my New Forest series of paintings; the colours in the early evening light are simply beautiful; so subtle and ethereal. I will be posting some examples of my current paintings in the next day or so; the photography should help with compositional ideas as I am working on a square format. I hope to reflect some elements of the textures and materials found in the Forest.
John Wise, author of The New Forest: Its History and Scenery, first published in 1862, knew a thing or two about the New Forest.
He offered this suggestion: ‘The best advice which I can give to see the New Forest is to follow the course of one of its streams, to make it your friend and companion, and go wherever it goes. It will be sure to take you through the greenest valleys, and past the thickest woods, and under the largest trees. No step along with it is ever lost, for it never goes out of its way but in search of some fresh beauty’.
I followed John’s advice and followed the Ditchend Brook yesterday, which I have to acknowledge doesn’t necessarily sound promising, but ……..what’s in a name? Always look beyond the label
And there are many streams to choose from: Linford Brook, Dockens Water, Latchmore Brook, Ditchend Brook, Mill Lawn Brook, Highland Water, Black Water, Ober Water, Bartley Water, the Lymington River, the Beaulieu River and far, far more. I think I may have some titles for my work.
Walking in the Newe Forest near Ashurst this morning I came across this colossal uprooted tree. To give you an idea of the dimensions, I am about 5′ 8″, and standing next to it, my eye level was roughly at the centre of the root system. Paul Klee often used the tree as a symbol or analogy….I am beginning to understand what he means.
‘….the descent into the earth has to do with unearthing,
however provisionally and intermittently, structures and hieroglyphs
‘constituting the archaic ground and pulsating heart of phenomena, sustaining their ongoing change. It involves remaining more intimately true to nature than naturalism,
which treats the surface superficially, failing to understand its depth.’
i.e., non-simplicity and metamorphic vitality
Coveney is a village north of Cambridge in Cambridgeshire in the UK. It is part of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands, an extensive flat terrain of fertile agricultural land once flooded but systematically reclaimed with the help of Dutch drainage engineers. I frequently cycle along these narrow and uneven roads, avoiding the pools of water and stretches of mud churned up by fleets of farm vehicles that criss cross the fens at this time of year. When I see something of interest, I stop and capture the scene with my camera.
This morning the snow fell in Ely all morning, quite unusual in this part of the country. The snowflakes have started to dissolve the façade of the building, the close up shots reminds me of Monet’s Rouen Catherdral.
This image was taken a couple of weeks ago in the grounds of Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge. For those who are interested, I used a Canon 5D2 with a 17-40 lens; the camera was on a tripod and I took 3 bracketed exposures to capture a wider range of tonal values. I only needed 2 of the files to achieve the balance I wanted between the sky and the land. The final effect was created with at least 2 additional texture layers, desaturation and selective sharpening, enhancing the illustrative quality.