I am used to expressing myself with paint. This time, however, I felt compelled to do the same in written form.
My poem below attempts to put into succinct words what landscape and nature means to me. To convey some of the feelings and emotions that I pour into my art.
A lone tree clings to a stony slope
Buffeted by a tormenting wind
An endless reach for the sweeping sky
Wild beauty beneath swirling clouds
In a vast and desolate glen
Dramatic in solitude
I breathe and feel alive
Where the trees dance
A huddle of trees entwine their branches
Observing atop a rolling hill
Bathed in light by the admiring sun
Rhythmic swaying and whispering leaves
In a warm and gentle breeze
Comfort in familiarity
I smile and feel at peace
Where the trees dance
Words by Jayne Leighton Herd
Trees have always been fascinating to me. Particularly those lone trees, clinging to windy slopes or standing proud on hilltops. This fascination began during my childhood in Scotland. Whenever I would see a lone tree, or a small cluster of trees all alone with nothing else around, I would wonder what those trees had lived through during Scotland’s tumultuous history. People, events, and many years had come and gone, and yet the trees still prevailed.
My previous series of landscape paintings have mainly focused on the land and sky. The Scottish scenery so close to my heart. Mountains, hills and big dramatic skies. Scotland’s scenery will never stop being a source of inspiration and joy to me. And I go back up as often as possible to soak up more inspiration and to recharge my creative batteries.
My husband and I had been seriously looking at moving back to Scotland. But a turbulent few years of grief, the Covid Pandemic, and other s**t that life throws at you, led us to re-evaluate the life we have in the south of England. And it gave us a desire, a need and a push to do a lot more walking and exploring much closer to home. In Berkshire, where we live, as well as the surrounding counties of Hampshire and Oxfordshire in particular. The discovery of amazing walks and lovely hidden gems of scenery resulted in a greater appreciation for the wealth of nature and landscape that is local to me. And I found myself paying particular attention to trees again. A reawakened delight of forms and textures, the play of light, the sounds… How the trees stand in relation to the landscape around them. And the way they make me feel. A comforting and enduring presence. Stability and beauty amidst continuous turmoil and confusion.
Trees started to appear frequently in my landscape sketches and even my daydream scribbles. So I started working on some paintings of 'treescapes': landscapes featuring trees. And I quickly noticed that some of my paintings continued to be full of influence from my love of the Scottish landscape. Where my trees often appear in wild landscapes, for example, buffeted by the wind under a stormy sky. Treescapes which are dramatic and full of energy and passion. Whereas the paintings I make after walking in my local countryside are more gentle and serene, with lighter, softer colour palettes. Paintings which express my utter joy at being able to experience beautiful local nature to clear my mind and feed my creative soul.
This new series of work marks a turning point for me after several emotionally and mentally difficult years. It means a lot to me that this series of paintings expresses the love and feelings I have for the landscapes of both locations: my homeland and my home.
I am super excited by this next stage in my artistic journey. I hope that you will enjoy it with me.
Anyone that goes for a walk with me has to get used to stopping [um, often 🤣] while I take photos of trees and landscape. And not just in the distance. But also close-ups of tree trunks, broken branches and the insides of cut or fallen tree trunks. I also love looking upwards into a tree’s branches. Trees are a world of endlessly fascinating formations, textures, patterns and colours.
Sometimes I will look at my photos when working in my sketchbook in my studio, or to inspire initial thoughts for paintings. But I don't use photos during my painting process. The landscape and the trees in my painting evolve naturally, instinctively, intuitively.
My paintings are not about expressing landscapes or trees realistically, as I am sure you have noticed. I paint from my mind’s eye, my imagination, memories and emotions. And I enjoy and live the journey that each painting takes me on.