David Reed Elliot – Us and Trees
I have always loved trees. I grew up with an elm in our garden in suburban Bedford in the 1960’s and was devastated when it was lost to Dutch Elm Disease.
As a child, my family would take me the Lake District for the October half-term: I was mesmerised by the intense colour of the autumn trees– deep red, orange, yellow, lime green against the golden bracken and vivid grass of the Cumbria hills. At night, the trees loomed against wind-torn, moonlight skies like ogres – I loved it!
I now live on the borders of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by trees – native and imported, including old oaks that were once part of the royal hunting forests.
To me, trees seem like ancient guardians watching the land, marking old pathways and boundaries, home and shelter to birds and wildlife and providing us with shade and clean air. I’m sad when I see trees cut down for planning development; we need homes and transport, but we neglect woodland at a cost to our wildlife, our quality of life and land. We relax when trees are introduced to towns, providing shade, improving air quality and bringing the changing seasons to otherwise drab city streets.
I love the way that trees mark the seasons with their changing colours and shapes: in spring and autumn, colours differentiate the trees as they blossom, unfurl at different times and colour spreads like a deep blush; in winter the shapes are fascinating and beautiful, in full-summer the silhouettes distinguish the trees, provide much needed shade and re-shape the landscape.
I love the way trees adapt and are altered by their environment: prevailing winds of coasts and moorlands twist and pull a tree into wild, exaggerated forms, the gentle rolling hills of the home-counties allow them to flourish and grow to their classical full-form.
A am both an artist and registered art therapist. In both practices, trees seem to carry a lot of symbolism, conscious and unconscious: they can represent the state of our soul, they are rooted, they may be strong and flourishing or unwell, weakened by drought and the pressures of their surroundings. They represent the whole spectrum of birth, life and death, from the acorn to fallen oak, they can symbolise hope and life.
As an artist, I paint and draw a range of subjects and media, but often return to landscapes. I have recently begun a series depicting the silhouettes of trees set against abstract skies of white and deep yellow; gold pours down from the sky like sunlight nourishing and life-giving. The style developed organically as I experimented with abstracts, and suddenly trees sprang up from the dark paint.
These works are painted in acrylic on canvas and paper, using a range of methods: dragging, stippling, sponging and brushwork.
I draw from life in my sketchbooks, taking photographs, and then return to the studio to create the finished pieces. I’ve made three A2 size paintings so far, and aim to complete at least 12, with some much larger pieces on canvas.
As I’m working, I’m uploading them to my RedBubble online account where they can be purchased as a range of art-prints and household items, and when the range is complete they’ll form part of my exhibition for 2019.
Find David here: www.davidreedelliott.com