I had been working on two other paintings, in the Wienerwald, on the edge of Vienna, when I first noticed these fallen trees. The painting was made in the studio from a series of drawings and small studies. The composition of fallen trees and branches creating a structure in all directions, appealed to me. All the branches setting off in many different directions make an interesting composition across the square format of the canvas. In addition to this, a series of smaller paintings and compositions are created through the negative spaces provided by the branches. I liked how the central trunks, some living, some dead, rise up and out of the ground and head off in all different directions. Almost like a giant bunch of flowers wilting in the forest, waiting to be picked. I was keen to impose an almost mechanical idea to nature’s constructed sculpture.
I had been searching for a white ash tree for sometime. There are many in the Wienerwald, this is a fallen white ash tree.
I was interested in the black and white along the trunk, contrasting with all the late summer and approaching autumn colours behind. I loved the way the colour white took me into the landscape behind and I wanted to record this sensation.
It has an almost path-like quality which not only takes the viewer into the painting but also the substance of the paint.
I also acknowledge that many of the trees which I choose to paint exist deep within the wood. In turn they provide ‘life’ to the living wood. There are similarities with organs giving life to a human body.
In this case it was a freshly felled ash tree which seemed in turn, to sever part of the wood. Similar to severing the ventricle of a human heart, hence the title.
At the time of making this Wienerwald painting, I was searching for a colour to off set a particular composition and subject.
Here I found a red. I wanted more of the colour red in a painting. Or perhaps more of a non-natural industrial colour, from within the landscape.
With this red container/shed on the edge of the Wienerwald, in a private garden. I found more than just a colour.
I also found a very industrial shape, this set me off from the start.
The painting was made over two seasons. Within these two seasons the changes were so strong the painting had to change with these new ideas.
The two yew trees to the right and left of the composition thickened far more than I had expected.
The most significant change was the growth of the small tree directly in the middle of the painting.
Before I started the work I had also been attracted by the very strong vertical trunk in the middle of the composition dividing up the canvas, but the small tree that grew further to the front could not be ignored.
From this changing foreground, the whole painting took on a new dimension, the red and strong vertical in the middle, becoming secondary to how the painting can be read. At the same time remaining these factors [the red and the strong vertical] are off-set by everything else in the composition.
This small pond was in the vicinity of a number of paintings I had made in the Wienerwald. It was in the corner of my eye.
I decided to take it on, as I had wanted a subject I had previously given little thought to.
With this composition, I was attracted by the fact I had found it almost by chance.
I questioned myself as to why paint a few chopped old pieces of wood lying on a small ditch filled with rain water ? The randomness of the whole composition appealed, but yet again there seemed some cohesion between all parts of the composition.
The cut wood just seemed to belong in the small ditch, and the only thing that had a human or mechanical aspect, was the way in which the wood had been cut so cleanly, and again I liked that contrast and slight tension.
I was also conscious of how the circular shape of the pond would play well against the square canvas and give depth to the painting.
The painting was begun in early spring, and the rotting cut wood provided a contrast against the forever changing 'new' vegetation around the pond. From small shoots of wild garlic, followed by the powerful shoots of grass across the forest floor as the painting reached its conclusion.
The framing of the pond by these green shoots was intentional, they were there, and I wanted to evoke a feeling that the painting could go on and on, off the canvas, contradicting almost the fact that the shoots 'frame' the pond.
Yew Tree is a painting that I have painted with oil on a canvas in the year 2019. The dimensions are 15 x 15 cm.
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