Landscape painters cannot avoid trees. That is true even here in Cambridgeshire, which probably has fewer trees than anywhere in England. A noble isolated oak, willows by a slow moving river or clumps of birch and alders in wetland are all classic motifs. They have been painted so often by great artists it is easy only to see them as others have.

Whilst there may be relatively few trees in Cambridgeshire they are essential in providing what may be the only vertical accents in views dominated by horizontals. The few ancient woods also provide the opportunity to shelter from that cold East wind when painting outside during the winter!

I was mindful to think about trees because saw that it was National Tree Week here in the UK, not that I guess anyone would know. It also reminded me of this book The Artistic Anatomy of Trees – over 400 pages on painting trees. Not a book to read from cover to cover but an essential reference for any landscape artist.

When I moved to Cambridgeshire twenty years ago I worried that the lack of trees would restrict my choice of painting locations, and it probably did for the first few years. However now when I occasionally travel to other counties, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, in search of more obviously picturesque landscape I find a different problem. The trees get in the way of the view.

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