Artist Clare Maria Wood

I want to look at the work of Clare Wood, specifically her paintings of woodlands. Her use of paint and abstract subject will help me to explore how I can paint abstractly in my work yet still give the viewer a sense of the subject and atmosphere of the scene.


Her day begins with an early morning dog walk in the woods, where she can immerse herself in the landscape. Then she returns to the studio:

Back in the studio, Clare works intuitively, to begin with, usually on several pieces at the same time, which allows her to see what is working and expand on ideas.She builds layers of paint, drawn marks and collage and scrapes back into the surface to reveal flashes of previous marks and colours, allowing the history of each piece to take centre stage. As paintings develop she then takes a more critical approach, refining and resolving areas while striving to keep the energy of the initial marks.

From Wood’s website.

This idea of working intuitively is an important part of my working process as well. It’s interesting that she works in the studio to create her work. It makes sense, since the paintings suggest a general experience has been captured, instead of a single moment in time. I get the sense of a general experience through the application of paint; the colours and marks generally blend into one another, with broad sweeping statements.

If the paintings were to be inspired by a more specific, single moment, the paintings might have more distinct form to them.

Interestingly all the pieces I have included in this post have names that support the idea that she paints inspired by general experiences. Since the names of the pieces are ‘Winter Woods II’ and ‘Woodland Secrets’ etc. However there is one piece I’ve included here – the bottom, portrait in teals and oranges, which is called ‘Crowing Glory’. As she mentions on her Instagram this piece is inspired by some woodland flowers, a less general subject. And you can tell her subject is more specific because the piece is busier, with more defined shapes and more contrasting colours.

The contrast between general experience and single moments is something I have witnessed in my own work as well, with the colour pieces in my A3 sketchbook.

Perhaps there is a way of playing with this contrast in my work? By layering general experiences and single moments


Artist Maria Chevska

Foremost a painter whose works emerge through the interaction of idea, material, and process, she values the ability to embody the unseen, unique to this medium, yet often expanding its boundaries and its potential agency, through a wider multi-disciplinary practice.


I want to research this artist in more detail after discovering her work in the exhibition catalogue from ‘Landscape, Memory, and Place’.

“…applied marks in matte blackboard paint – fragmenting the painting surface. This complexity interested me…to be in dialogue with ordinary things and not only the world of ‘painting’…I thought it had new potential for my practice.”

Paint and Materiality – interview with Maria Chevska.

Painting connected to the world, instead of a blank canvas in the studio, separated physically and emotionally from outside experience – this is why I paint outside, perhaps why I cover the canvas in paint outside, then return in the studio to bring a piece together (referring to early idea in A5 sketchbook).

“painting is an abstraction inasmuch as its very existence signifies what it cannot be.”

‘Interweaving Language: The Art of Maria Chevska’ by Ann Hindry.

“Maria Chevska’s works are about collapsing the past into the present, about letting the body spread out into the world, about collapsing the world into the mind.”

‘Painting as Séance: The recent work of Maria Chevska’ by Tony Godfrey

Chevska’s paintings seem to address the subject of space, of physicality and colour as a carrier of these messages.

The lack of subject in her work is what causes the viewer to notice the space surrounding a painting. It’s the use of texture and line that moves off the edge of the canvas that implies a relationship between the room and the painting.

Chevska’s use of paint to create depth points out the size of the exhibition space, reminding the viewer of the paintings materiality.


After looking at the work of Maria Chevska I want to experiment with space in my paintings. An important aspect of these woodland paintings is capturing the height and scale of tall trees and big woodland. At the beginning of this project (Lent Term) the most successful ink paintings of woodland were ones that captured the height of the trees. I want to continue to capture this scale, but in a more suggestive and abstract form – looking at using lines and angles in my work might help me to do this.

To begin with I am going to do some simple experiments in my studio, using photos and videos taken from the woodland where I paint, as well as the colour sketchbook paintings, to inspire me.

‘Landscape, Memory, and Place’ exhibition catalogue

I want to look and catalogue the work of the artists involved here, after reading the theory behind their work.

Maria Chevska 

Broad brushstrokes making sweeping statements.

Use of straight lines and angles to break up space and add dimension to an otherwise flat painting is an interesting idea. Perhaps one I could adapt for my work? It ties in with the work of Moira Dryer I was looking at – flat paintings, but adding lines could add the dimension it was lacking.

How to divide the canvas up is an important part of the composition. Perhaps for my work, instead of depicting one experience/ one moment/ one angle, I could divide the canvas up and depict multiples moments that add up to an experience. 

Fluid motions with the paint brush contrast the hard, angular lines. These contrasting features complement one another.


Andrew Mansfield 

Colour is noticeable in this work, colour combinations decided the mood of the piece.

Paintings sit between abstraction and description of landscape; experience abstracts an ‘accurate’ description. Flat blocks of colour given depth with abstract shapes that suggest distance.

Proportions and scale are not realistic, something dreamlike and imaginative about that. It suits her style; warping the landscape, moulding the landscape to his experiences.

Therese Oulton 

Cannot tell whether textures and colours are a description of something seen or an expression of a broader experience/sight.

Materials are a heavy focus of Oulton’s work. The painting states its materiality clearly to the viewer. Nature is taken as a physical, messy, descriptive subject, hence the work is physical, messy and descriptive.

Michael Porter 

Heavy atmosphere of mystery, shifting, growing, dying, renewing. Less material than some of the pervious artists with similar subjects. A delicate approach, with a sensitive feeling. Scale of subject is unclear; is a piece a macro view of a forest or a micro view of a much vaster landscape.



Artist Moira Dryer


Canadian artist, 1957- 1992.

Colour and paint texture to create atmosphere. Heavy reliance on materials (paint) since there is no subject. The paint texture carries the mood.

Letting paint drip and bleed, releasing control of paint.

Repeated (but not uniform) pattern in painting reminds me of something natural, where repetition and order can be found. Pattern being the main subject suggests the pattern continues off the canvas, expanding without limit.

The paintings are flat, without much depth. But that suggests there is something behind the patterns. They appear to be a wall up in front of the viewer, with something hidden behind. Painting on wood panel, allowing the grain of the wood to show through beneath the paint, assists in creating a feeling of something unrevealed behind the colour.

This sense of the painting holding more than the viewer can see is something I want to capture in my own work – the space and height in a big woodland that extends beyond the canvas.

Using wood as a background for my paintings may help to achieve this. The wood textures tie in with the trees in the painting, reminding the viewer of the paintings materiality. The grain of wood would also give a good grounding colour to work relatively to, making colours put on top deeper and richer.

I am continuing with last terms project which will allow me to push my ideas further, last term I had only started to use colour in my work, so for the start of this project I want the focus to be colour. Looking at the work of Dryer has prompted me to do some pure colour experiments, putting the ink work on pause whilst I concentrate on colour.