“To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature... the holly whistles as it battles with itself; the ash hisses amid its quiverings; the beech rustles while its flat boughs rise and fall”
In the first few lines of Thomas Hardy’s novel Under the Greenwood Tree, he writes: “To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature… the holly whistles as it battles with itself; the ash hisses amid its quiverings; the beech rustles while its flat boughs rise and fall.”
I read the book many years ago and I think these words have touched a chord with me. I am not a “dweller in a wood”, I live in Exeter which does, however, have many fine trees and setting out to paint them I am conscious of capturing the very nature of them. My encounters with trees leads me onto other subjects – hot summer days, torrential rain, fields and meadows, light on the river, waves breaking, the open moor. Working out what to paint and how to paint is never easy. It is an ongoing battle between artist, nature and paint.
When I was in primary school I can remember doing a project with a friend of mine, Mark Boughton. We were allowed to go out each afternoon into the school grounds to sit and watch a swoop of house martins, whilst making notes and drawings of their activities. Perhaps this is where it all began, my interest in nature and of the many things within.