Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A year in the Oak Woods

I have begun a large painting of a year in an oak wood; it's a collection of things found in a sessile oak wood typical of west and mid Wales, so upland with acidic soils. So far I have collected things from 2 oak woods within a 20 mile radius of me; Elan valley and Coed Rheidol woodlands. My studio is now full of bits of moss, lichen, twigs and pots of acorns that I've gathered on recent walks and I'm trying to keep organised (and clean!).
The painting has started with the bottom left section all devoted to winter, then will travel round through the seasons until hopefully it will be finished in time for exhibition in October. Autumn may well be a bit rushed.

Above is the winter section so far with scarlet elf cups and Coriolus versicolor fungi, marble oak galls, Usnea lichen, Polypody fern, decayed holly leaf, ivy fruits & leaf and a decaying oak leaf.

Above are some sketches of mosses, lichens and fungi that I found in Elan valley oak woods.
The little cushion of moss is Ulota crispa commonly found on tree bark and branches. The other mosses are also common. There are very rare mosses, lichens and ferns that grow in the Elan valley woodlands but I have not found any and wouldn't pick them if I did.
 The Coriolus versicolor bracket fungi is also very common and it contains PSK which is used as an anti-cancer aid in Japan.
The feathery Usnea subfloridana lichen contains powerful anti-biotics and is high in vitamin C.

Above is a spring painting that I had started but have put on hold. It has been worked up from my sketches and old paintings that are no good. May finish it in spring when new material is available.


  1. Claire - what a fantastic project! I love the idea of tracking different elements of that landscape and environment throughout the year. I just love seeing the paintings with the materials together on the page (especially the mosses.) Gorgeous work. Look forward to following along as you complete it!

  2. This is amazing Claire, beautiful work as always :) xox

  3. Thanks Carol and Julie xxx really enjoying this painting

  4. It's going to be a wonderful painting and I love your field sketches too, especially of the lichens x

  5. You have done a real job about Oak. You also paint some wonderful pictures of oak. Thanks. PlantWerkZ

  6. There are some really beautiful finds here Claire. Love the idea of a through the seasons piece, can't wait to see it develop. x