I normally gravitate towards painting more open landscapes but the residency saw me concentrating on more enclosed wooded areas. In particular I became fascinated with tree trunks, especially the movement of branch shadows across them and the ground below.
In autumn fungi, especially the numerous fly agarics and shaggy ink caps were an irresistible subject. I have observed and sketched the birds attracted to the arboretum throughout the year, showing the value of trees to so many species and the wider ecosystem. Hawfinches appeared on the hornbeams in small numbers in October and I spent many hours studying these beautiful and massive finches. Crossbills were frequent company in autumn and early winter. Another bird highlight was the appearance of redstarts in spring. The exhibition will feature many more species see between Sept 20- Sept 21..
I experienced the arboretum through different weathers and saw damp cool autumn days, incredible amounts of rainfall at times, intense frost and snow and very warm summer days with the meadows alive with insects. The swings in weather from dry to wet and very warm to cold made me realise what trees have to withstand.
Some planned events were impossible due to covid but we managed a couple of very good painting workshops in August- these were as much about just being out in nature as the end results on paper.
I hope this exhibition shows the wonder, peace and joy I have found in the arboretum grounds. I considered myself extremely fortunate to be there at a time when so many struggled through a very difficult winter; I found being around old trees (especially the medieval holly) very moving at a time of so much suffering. The arboretum has the power to inspire and calm the soul.
Below are some of the watercolours that will be available for purchase at the exhibition.