In the beech forest

June 2010 -Acrylic on canvas 50 x 70cm (19.68 x 27.56 inches)

After the last painting  I needed to do something slightly freer. For ages I have been wanting to paint the experience of being in the forest. On a hot day in early summer there is a sensation of other wordliness as you are in the still coolness,  created by the canopy of fresh green, vibrant  with  the sunlight filtering through. The carpet of dry leaves & the velvety mosses seem to absorb all sound other than birdsong.

There are fallen trees in various states of decay which create microcosms for various plants, insects & fungi. Close to streams you find  beautiful ferns. Sometimes it can seem hard to believe that these sorts of places do still exist – I hope they don’t become just fairy tales & myths.

Aside from deforestation by felling, with the planet warming up beech forest is going to be declining at lower altitudes .


21 thoughts on “In the beech forest

  1. This is lovely Sonya – I think you have captured the experience – the painting feels fresh and so inviting – I’d like to walk into it.

    I’m sad to read that a warmer climate will mean the decline of beech forest – our trees are precious – we need more of them not fewer. there is a move to plant more trees in the UK now – though sometimes it is done for the wrong reasons (simply to offset carbon production by an organisation so they can claim to be carbon neutral) – and there does seem to be a growing awareness of jusr how prescious our woodlands are for so many reasons. We do our bit anyway!

  2. Thank- you Sarah.

    I guess it can’t be predicted exactly but given beech need cooler conditions than oaks seem to, I suppose oaks might take their place & beech could grow higher up than it used to. Of course it’s all much more complicated than just that & I’m certainly no expert!

    I often wonder when I see dolmens out in the mountains what sort of a landscape people would have been looking at a few thousand years back & what types of trees if any there would have been. I feel like I read somewhere there was more birch, but I can’t remember where I got that from.

    It’s good that people are becoming more aware & planting trees. It always seems that you have to have some sort of commercial justification before anything is seen as being worthwhile.

    This reminds me that I just learnt recently that only wild bees are able to pollinate peppers. So if you strim away all the wildflowers that they feed from at other moments, the bees are not likely to survive & you end up with nothing to pollinise your pepper plants. That argument should convince anyone that makes a living growing peppers, not to strim or destroy wild environments even if they don’t care about wildflowers just in themselves.

    Some other reasons why not to strim while I’m thinking of it! –
    It makes a horrible noise
    It takes time
    It reduces biodiversity
    It bothers your neighbours
    It’s not enjoyable (Ok that’s subjective)

    From this digression you’ve probably guessed I don’t like strimmers! I wonder if many people feel as I do on this?

  3. Really like this one, Sonya – it definitely gives me the “forest feel”, being surrounded by growth and the feeling of peace that the forest can give a person. I like the fluid nature of your trees too, the way the boughs are obscured by greenery. Nicely done! Er- one thing, what’s a strimmer?

  4. Thank-you Jeff.
    A strimmer is one of those things that cuts the edges or slopes of grass where lawn mowers can’t get to – so it all looks nice & clean & tidy! Actually I’ve experienced on my daily journey, somewhere where they strimmed away all the lush ferns & flowering anemones in order to reveal all the rubbish which had been covered by the new growth!

    • Ah, the strimmer – I actually looked it up and got “string trimmer” which makes sense. Over here in the wild west we call them “weed whackers”. Victoria is the land of retirees and sculpted lawns and gardens and as a result, one can hear the weed whackers and leaf blowers go pretty much all day. So much for tranquility! So much for wild flora….

  5. Absolutely succeeded at the cool stillness of a forest. More than anything else in this painting, I like looking at all the interwoven branches of the trees, each singular but each contributing to the challenge you set for yourself. If I pause and stare at this long enough I can relate to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”.

  6. Thank-you Leslie – now you’ve got me wondering which music I was listening to when I painted this! I know it wasn’t Vivaldi but it could have been Bach-a frequent choice for painting. On the other hand it could just as easily also have been REM, Misty in Roots, Ali Farka Touré or Bob Dylan because I think I’ve listened to them recently whilst painting!

    There’s certain music you can paint to I think & other music you can like at other moments but not whilst painting. I know this isn’t really anything to do with what you meant, but it got me wondering what if any, other music people listen to whilst painting?

    I don’t always listen to music, sometimes I prefer silence, but that’s not always easy to get, so I find music is a good way to help get into a certain state of absorption.

    My family probably gets a tough time from me when they choose some music & I tell them I can’t paint with that on-find something different!

    • I like REM and Bob Dylan and music like that when I draw. I don’t know why though. When I paint, it is usually classical. I tend to be slow and methodical in painting. If I’m working on a distorted or strange piece like when I do a continuous line drawing and want to get quirky with it, I’ll go with some loud rock from the 80’s, but that is not often as too much time with that gets on my nerves anymore. It is an interesting question.

  7. This is fabulous! I’ve never seen a treatment of trees like this before. The leaves and branches look like ripples or reflections in water – they are moving – almost like they’re sweeping through and into another dimension. Amazing!

  8. Thank-you very much.
    It’s interesting how you say the branches look like ripples – I often find that at an abstract level shapes can break down to being pretty similar to each other. It’s only in the wider conext that we are identify them as belonging to “something” as in “sky, rock formation, water, mud”…etc.

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