The contrast between the peace of the forest and the stories it evokes and a looming, dark shadow is intense. I’m reaching back through the mists, feeling threads that bind me to the Early Romantics who feared where extreme mechanization would lead. When I walk amongst the trees in the forest I steward, I am welcomed by soft mosses beneath my feet a hermit thrush singing in a distant glade and the deep, swaying movements of hemlocks brushed by wind. As I walk, I note the spread of disease amongst the trees – the blight on the beeches that causes their bark to pucker and crack, the holes drilled into ash bark by the emerald ash borers, and the little bits of white fluff on the hemlocks that is desiccating them from the inside out. My beloved hemlock forest is dying as the winters warm and the tiny woolly adelgid bug climbs higher into the hills where once it would not have survived the cold. All around the hills and valleys where I wander, I see stands of dead trees as more and more species succumb to the stresses of a changing climate.
From this tension comes an urgent call to paint - I want to saturate the images with the quiet stillness of the places I walk, evoke the buzz and twittering of the yellow-throated green warbler and the magic of toad songs on a damp spring eve. My work is a celebration of the immense beauty of this forest where I live and a keening song of grief as I witness the dying of an ancient and beautiful species of trees. For me, the act of painting is ritual and prayer and an invocation to the spirit of the wild places to mend the broken threads of our belonging.