Michael Porter

Michael Porter

I am a landscape painter who observes the minutia of what we see. 
If I can convincingly depict a small aspect of what one experiences whilst out there in the world then I count this as success.

The tree is often seen as the embodiment of nature, as both a product of the earth and the sustainer of the very world in which we live.

As a painter of nature my eyes continuously flit from twig to bark, observing the nest’s in its branches, an individually striated leaf, the twist of a climbing columbine around it’s trunk.  Neither is more important than another, they merge together to build up the overall picture.

It is not my intention to create an illustration of the landscape but create an image that corresponds to what one sees, to show the characteristics of place and make visual equivalents of that which is
before us.

I am drawn to bits of landscape that are often disregarded whilst at the same time cannot be overlooked, a dilemma indeed!

Michael Porter
Forest floor, 15-06-11, 110 x 120 cms, acrylic, gouache and oil on canvas

Michael Porter
Day and Night, Bethany series, 19-06-15, oil and acrylic on photograph, 50 x 100 cms

Michael Porter
Beside the Path  21-06-14, 43 x 39 cms, acrylic and oil on paper

Je suis un peintre paysagiste qui observe les petits détails de ce que nous voyons. 
Si je peux décrire de façon convaincante un petit aspect de ce qu’éprouve celui qui est plongé dans le monde, je compte cela comme un succès. 

On considère souvent l'arbre comme l'incarnation de la nature, à la fois comme un produit de la terre et le soutien du monde dans lequel nous vivons.

Mes yeux de peintre de la nature circulent continuellement de la ramille à l’écorce, observant le nid dans ses branches, une feuille seule, striée, la torsade d'une ancolie qui s’enroule autour du tronc. Aucune chose n’est plus importante qu’une autre, elles fusionnent ensemble pour construire l’image globale.

Mon intention n’est pas de créer une illustration du paysage, mais de créer une image qui correspond à ce que l'on voit, de montrer les caractéristiques du lieu et produire des équivalents visuels de ce qui est devant nous.

Je suis attiré par des éléments de paysage souvent méprisés, mais qui pourtant ne peuvent pas être négligés : un dilemme assurément !


Richard Bavin

Richard Bavin

Richard Bavin
Queenswood - Late Summer, 2015, charcoal, 345 x 460 mm

Trees have always filled me with joy and wonder and I can be absorbed for hours in simply looking. Throughout my life I have loved many city trees but these days I am blessed with an attic studio looking onto mature chestnuts and oaks, and a home in a valley filled with orchards and woods. Every tree, great or small, has its own character and presence, and walking in woodland is a deeply restorative pleasure in any weather.

Richard Bavin
Springtime Song

Most of my drawings and paintings depict specific trees and woodland in Herefordshire. My starting point is always to spend time walking or sitting quietly with sketchbook and camera amid the mud, wind, birds and midges. The act of drawing intensifies the experience and I feel fully alive! Patience and perseverance are rewarded by extraordinary moments when a scene is made astonishingly beautiful by some shift of light or weather. In the studio I distill these encounters and records into paintings, aiming to share what I have seen and felt as faithfully as possible with the viewer. 

Richard Bavin
Wood Edge on Foggy Morning

Winter is my favourite season with stark, bare tree forms, slanting sun and hot coffee to hand. Oak Tree, is based on a pencil drawing of a grand old estate tree whereas Wellington Wood - Winter Sun shows a stand of young oaks, regrowing after clearance, in a wood I visit often.

Richard Bavin
Wellington Wood - Winter Sun, 2012, watercolour, 460 x 670 mm

It breaks my heart to see how rapidly Britain's trees and woodland are succumbing to development and the ravages of pollution and disease, and I am involved in campaigning locally and nationally. But in my practice as an artist I choose to go on making paintings which delight in the myriad ways in which trees enrich our world and ourselves. At the end of my life I hope that my work will not be a eulogy for what we have lost but a celebration.

Richard Bavin
Old Oak, 2014, oil on board, 700 x 1000 mm

Peintre profondément amoureux des arbres et des bois, chaque mois je passe une partie de mon temps dehors à faire des croquis au fusain et à l'aquarelle et à photographier. Tout aussi importante est la solitude et le temps pris à observer et à m’imprégner de ces expériences.

Dans mon atelier grenier du Herefordshire rural, j'utilise ce matériau d’extérieur comme point de départ pour les aquarelles et les huiles. Mon but est de communiquer le caractère de chaque arbre individuel, le caractère des bois, et ce que l’on ressent à être là en différentes saisons et par différents temps. La lumière perpétuellement changeante en est la clé. L’essentiel de mon travail se construit par couches durant des semaines et des mois pour apporter profondeur et richesse aux couleurs.

Richard Bavin
Young Oak on Quarry Edge

En octobre dernier je me suis rendu au centre de la France, une occasion tant attendue d'explorer les magnifiques forêts de Blois et de Chambord avec leur faune abondante. J’ai rejoint les Arboréalistes à Vaux, où nous avons été bénis par deux jours de chaud soleil pendant que nous dessinions et photographions les arbres locaux dans leur richesse automnale. Cette peinture est la première d'une série consacrée à ce voyage.


Nick Schlee

Nick Schlee

Nick Schlee
Copse in meadow', 81 x 101 cm 

I am usually in a state of high anticipation when I go out to sketch. I have to find a subject that stops me in my tracks. If I am not excited how will the picture I draw ever excite anyone else? I usually draw from the car. If I have to, I get out and work leaning on the bonnet.

I first try to make a mental verbal note, on an imaginary index card, of those elements that have made the initial impact on me. Putting the scene into words forces me to think and analyse what it is I am looking at. Working at speed I then try to capture all those essential components I decided made the scene worth recording. I leaving out detail I might discover on closer observation unless they help consolidate the picture I set out to make. I am careful about getting the essentials only and take great care to get everything in the right place.

Nick Schlee
Copse in Basildon Park

Later, when painting up the oil pastel in oils, I approximate the same calligraphic marks of the sketch with my brushstrokes. They are the key to the liveliness of my pictures. The long shadows and golden light of the evening help make the pictures atmospheric and moving.

I only choose subjects that in some way excite my eye and so I use slightly heightened colour and accented linear rhythms to create that same excitement in the viewer.

Back in the studio I paint from the sketch following it closely, painting it up to a large size in oil paint, the bigger the picture the more you get a feeling of being right there, actually in the landscape.

Nick Schlee
Trees at Basildon Park, 92 x 107 cm

I paint mainly landscapes of the country along the Ridgeway in West Berkshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire. These days the countryside is eerily bereft of people. But I find that the trees, whether close or far away on the tops of hills, become the animating element. They congregate in congenial clumps, sometimes menacing like ancient armies awaiting battle. Some trees deserve a picture to themselves suggesting restlessness or repose and always implying strength and longevity.

Nick Schlee
Stones and beech trees, 82 x 97 cm

Sarah Harding

Sarah Harding

Sarah Harding
Winter Oak, Egg tempera on gesso panel, 13 cm x 20.5 cm

I live in a remote, rural area of the Shropshire hills. Our cottage is on the edge of woodland and surrounded by many trees. While oak and ash predominate, there are also mature sweet chestnut and silver birches amongst others. My work is inspired by the natural beauty of my local environment that I encounter on a daily basis, so inevitably trees are often a feature.

I work on a small scale in the traditional, Renaissance technique of egg tempera. I enjoy the slow, meditative approach. The work is produced building many layers of egg yolk and pigments often taken from the earth itself. A unique luminosity can be created in this way, relying on understanding how opaque, transparent and semi-transparent pigments work together and their individual characteristics. It takes time, concentration and application to have mastery over this technique.

A moment of intense feeling is what I try to capture but also, paradoxically, a timeless quality, a human connection and response to the natural world that could have occurred in any century. This feels like an experience outside time and relates to an interest in artists who, through the centuries, have been intrigued and inspired by the notion of the sublime. Trees can also live for several human lifetimes and so bare witness to human activity.

Sarah Harding
Two Ash Trees, Egg tempera on gesso panel, 20 cm x 26 cm

Over the last few years I have become interested in eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhism. For example, the notion that everything in the universe is connected, is something we need to pay urgent attention to if we are not going to destroy it. Trees are a connection between us and the elements. They are the elements as are we.

I'm influenced by the work of The Neo-Romantics, Samuel Palmer and The Ancients along with The Pre-Raphaelites all of whom were also inspired by the English rural environment, along with Persian miniature painting, illuminated manuscripts and the Flemish Norther School.

By trying to reproduce and record a particular emotional, difficult to rationalise, response to nature, I hope to elicit a similar response in the viewer.

Sarah Harding
Oak Trees and Moon, Egg tempera on gesso panel, 20 cm x 25 cm

Tim Craven

Tim Craven

Tim Craven
Tim Craven, Millenium Hill, 2015, watercolour, 41 x 58 cm

Tim Craven paints dense and intricate close landscapes of trees and woodland. He is drawn to complex and rhythmic, natural imagery when flattened and abstracted by photography. His work explores the tension between hand-made mark-making and the photo-mechanical form of abstract shapes that combine to create illusion and depth. For him too, these shapes can reference much of art history.

Tim Craven
Château Larcher, 2017, casein on canvas, 61 x 91.5 cm

After training in fine art and the conservation of paintings, Craven joined the staff of Southampton City Art Gallery in 1980. Working up close with one of the finest regional public collections of art, spanning eight centuries for over 30 years has proved a privileged stimulus for his own art practice which he has always rigorously pursued. His work is therefore inevitably informed by a diverse range of style and ideas. He admires the English pastoral landscape tradition, notably the Pre-Raphaelite landscape painters such as J W Inchbold, and its links with Surrealism through Paul Nash and others as well as various abstract and contemporary movements including Op Art and The Systems Group.

Tim Craven
Swinyard Hill, 2015, casein on canvas, 20 x 30 ins

His distinctive influences however are the densely patterned paintings of Charles Ginner of the Post-Impressionist Camden Town Group, and the work of his Birmingham born friend, John Salt, a celebrated first generation New York School Photorealist, who employs fine stencils with an airbrush.

Craven's paintings are often monochrome or in muted colour evoking memory and nostalgia. He is interested in the relationship and dichotomy between painting and photography and he contrasts a deadpan, American Photorealist style with English Romantic subjects. Drawn to the strong, dynamic verticals and abstract qualities of tree forms animated by direct sunlight, he sees striated organic pattern akin to a natural Op-Art. His myriad of tiny abstract shapes coalesce like alchemy, to effect a figurative image.

Tim Craven founded The Arborealists in 2013.

Tim Craven
Little Norton, 2014, 24 x 36 ins, casein on canvas

Mon travail explore la dichotomie et la relation entre la peinture et la photographie. Je fais contraster un style photoréaliste impassible avec des sujets romantiques anglais comme les arbres. J'ai toujours été attiré par les verticales fortes et dynamiques, par le drame spatial, par les qualités abstraites des formes des arbres, animées par la lumière du soleil. Je vois un motif organique, zébré, comparable à une sorte d'Op Art naturel. Une myriade de minuscules formes abstraites photomécaniques indépendantes se fondent pour produire une image figurative. Pour moi ces formes peuvent aussi faire référence à l'histoire de l'art.

Tim Craven
un Castle, 2015, casein on canvas, 20 x 30 ins

Après une formation en beaux-arts et en conservation des peintures, j’ai rejoint l’équipe de la Southampton City Art Gallery en 1980. Le privilège de travailler pendant plus de 35 ans auprès de l'une des plus belles collections publiques régionales d'art, couvrant huit siècles, a stimulé ma propre pratique artistique. Une gamme variée de styles et d'idées ont influencé mes peintures : depuis le post-impressionnisme, le surréalisme et le néo-romantisme jusqu’à l’Op Art, l’art systématique et le photoréalisme.

Tim Craven
Midsummer Hill Fort, 2016, casein on canvas, 24 x 36 cm


Jo Barry

Jo Barry

For the first few years of my working life I lived and taught in Central London while at the same time trying to develop my own work.  It was a very exciting time and I loved the buzz of living in a big city but I also loved the countryside which was my main inspiration.  So I spent a lot of time travelling out into the Southern Counties.
In 1994 we left London for Hampshire and I came to live in the New Forest.  I don't think I will ever move again.

Jo Barry
Morning flight, Watercolour

In London I dreamed of having a garden large enough to have an oak tree.  Here I have in my care a number of ancient oaks, a beech tree and a willow tree. These shelter a wide range of wild life, including roe deer and their fawns and to which we have added geese, chickens, a couple of hundred free flying doves and six dogs.  And just outside my garden is the New Forest, a truly magical part of the world.

Jo Barry
Portrait of a dog, Etching

I started working using just the simple pencil.  It is wonderful to have so little technique to come between me and the growing drawing.  But I also do etchings and occasionally water colours.
My method of working is to do little sketches and to write myself little notes.  When an idea is beginning to grow as a drawing it can just be allowed to grow across the page.  But an etching has the limitation of the size of the plate so a more accurate sketch of the composition has to be made before work starts.

Jo Barry
Standing water, Etching

And this work can take weeks or even months.  As soon as a mark is made it starts a three way conversation between the idea, the work in progress and me.  It is a slow process and I will have many pieces of work on the go at any time, all of them at different stages.  I don't think I have ever finished anything, I just reach a point where I have to let go.
I am often asked if I have to wait long to be inspired.  I never have to wait, there is always something to do and living here I am surrounded by more inspiration than I have time to use.

John Blandy

John Blandy

I follow particular trees over time and use their situations as a source for developing ideas through observation and repetition. Over the course of a year, revisiting the same site, the record of change becomes the essence of the tree as a living presence.

A lime tree in a north London park, painted repeatedly from one spot since 1997. Some days in early May when the leaves break, or in late October as they fall, I am back, again and again; working in a manner that is open to idiosyncrasies of each moment as the shadows turn, the wind gusts, and a rain cloud spits. Painting in pastel, reacting to each event, requires a consistency. The size of the paper, the medium, the range of colours, forms a framework for the marks, in much the same way as making up stills of an animation film.

A copse of trees I paint dips into a stream, under Wytham Wood, near Oxford; a mixed deciduous group that is now dominated by a range of willows. The challenge is reflecting the way trees clamour for the light. When I started painting here 35 years ago, the river edges were bare and fenced for cattle. Poplars, elms and willows stood in the distance. Now I am fighting tree and climbing rose even to have a look in. I use a range of marks, building up a series of layers that combine flat dark or light planes broken by strike and stutter marks. The marks reflect a quickening of pace and is a shorthand to record the changes. The layered dropping canopy as it stretches to capture the light over water has become the structure.

John Blandy
Weeping Willow 4, 1045 * 835 mm, pastel on paper, 2014/15

John Blandy studied at St Martins and the Royal College of Art and has been represented by Francis Kyle Gallery (1983-95) and Cassian de Vere de Cole.

Work is part of many collections including Hammersmith Hospital and St George's Hospital, Tooting.

Blandy suit les lieux au fil du temps. Par l'observation et la répétition, il crée une succession d'images qui explorent l’idée de l’éphémère. On en trouve l’écho dans son usage du pastel : il utilise une gamme de signes, construisant des couches qui combinent des aplats sombres ou des plans clairs interrompus par des marques de rayures et de hachures. Ces marques traduisent l’accélération du rythme. Elles sont un raccourci pour enregistrer les changements.

Dans une ferme à l'ouest d'Angoulême, près de Villebois-Lavalette, Blandy a peint la croissance d’un cytise. Un petit arbre qui lutte pour grandir sur la roche calcaire. L'arbre brille sous l’intense chaleur de l'été 2016.

Fontpeauloup Laburnum 18.8.17

Il fait partie d'une série grandissante de projets qui explorent les aspects éphémères d’un lieu. Cela inclut un tilleul dans un parc du nord de Londres, peint du même point de vue presque tous les jours depuis mars 1997. Un autre projet concerne une rivière aux proches abords d'Oxford qu'il a peint pendant quarante ans. Autrefois on pouvait voir les ormes au loin. Désormais, une rangée d'arbres borde l'eau, un groupe de feuillus mélangés dominé par des saules, qui clament après la lumière. Les saules, un rosier grimpant, rivalisent avec la broussaille.


Simon Dorrell

Simon Dorrell

Simon Dorrell
Broken. An apple tree in Pan's Orchard. Ink and gouache. 16.5 cm x 23 cm

The eyes of my house stare out, towards every point of the compass, at trees.
Trees in their hundreds.
And who knows how many million, billion, trillion leaves?

Seven steps from the door, I enter the ragged remnants of a wood. It was planted as a brake to stall the sometimes fierce breath of Wales and a hundred winters later its dark places and unexpected pools of light are enough, still, to test the dogs as they career clumsily through the undergrowth. The birds are startled into sudden conversation in the very tree-tops.

One backwards leap for a squirrel to the walnut tree - fifteen years ago one of four trees - now one of four hundred planted here. In so few years of growth they have grown (despite the nagging of rabbits, stripping of squirrels and the nonchalant vandalism of deer) from whips to giants that now shadow the path down to the river. It's banks are crowded with crack willow and goat willow and alder, white poplar and ash; a meandering avenue that I could walk for a week of days until I reached the sea. A diversion in the lee of hedgerow hawthorn and blackthorn and native dogwood leads past a child's drawing of a perfect oak, hard by a field gate, to a derelict orchard: the forlorn trees brought to their knees by indifference and neglect.

Above, aloof, the beech in their woods raise their ramparts on the steep, uncultivated, hillsides. Turning, I cast my mind's eye back to my extended family of trees;  particularly to the ailing alders, fighting disease and losing, as are the ash now, as did the old horse chestnut that stood beside the bridge. It was the most beautiful tree I ever met and grew to love. It is long gone now. But its boughs, outstretched, and its hand-like leaves reach out to me across the years. Still. Still now, too, that corner of the field.

Somewhere in the valley, the sickening song of a chainsaw chills the air.

I look back at the beech.
Their resilience disarms me.
And yet, they are so fragile. So vulnerable.
And all I can do is stand with a pencil in my hand, and draw.

Simon Dorrell
An alder in winter, Stapleton parish. Ink and gouache. 25.5 cm x 18.5 cm