I want to explore this idea mainly because of my own relationship to them. I’m not sure I understand the bond or where this will take me but I’m excited to try.

I started by assembling images of trees with human figures in them and began my studies with drawing and painting from these images. After a day of this with no progress, I realized that this subject was not going to be an easy one. It was not just a matter of painting trees and adding a figure! That simply didn’t work. As I painted, I found that the forest environment can be a very threatening place when you place figures in it, particularly children. What was charming in a photo just didn’t transfer into a painting. Placing a child on its own amongst tall trees was a very uncomfortable image for me. So I obviously had to go far deeper into the subject.

The second challenge I faced was how to paint the figure. I went back to this section of the course and felt that I didn’t really get to grips with it then. Like so many other topics, it presented a huge area of study for which there didn’t seem to be time in amongst everything else.

I spent some time looking at how artists have used the figure in landscape…in particular, Kurt Jackson. In his book entitled, A New Genre in Landscape Painting, there is a chapter on Painting the Forest. Kurt Jackson is an environmentalist and so his interest and passion for the forest go far beyond just the picturesque. His paintings are very atmospheric and celebrate the forest as an environmental powerhouse in today’s world. It was interesting that the inclusion of people in his landscapes is rare and I could see why.

This painting was becoming a huge challenge and after several days of unsatisfactory attempts I decided to abandon the inclusion of a figure. The subject of The Forest was also one which needed much exploration. Both of these subjects are ones which I would like to take up later but both need deeper exploration. So I went back to the exercises I had done on ancient trees and painted an image to try to capture the atmosphere of the forest. I’m pleased with the looseness of this image and feel that I have managed to capture something of what I felt.



About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
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