OAK: One Tree, Three Years, Fifty PaintingsSTEPHEN TAYLOR Book Number: 87772 Product format: Hardback
Following a turbulent period in his emotional life, Stephen Taylor spent three years painting a single landscape near West Bergholt in all its moods and variations, inspired by earlier painters such as Constable, who lived and worked only a few miles away. Some paintings are close-ups, others focus on the oak tree from across a field of wheat or rapeseed and a few are panoramic canvases in which the tree is a small incident in a distant hedgerow. The tree itself is around 250 years old, symbolising nature's continuity in a fractured world. "Summer, West Bergholt" is a panorama of wheat, realised in loving three-dimensional detail, with a man walking down a central pathway under a blue sky and the oak a hazy silhouette on the far left. "Green Fire" is a turbulent close-up of blowing leaves and young corn, recalling for the artist the visionary poet Thomas Traherne and the music of Vaughan Williams. "Wheat under Cloud" is the same view in an impressionistic, stippled technique, suggesting summer stillness, and a study of the oak in moonlight is a mass of subtle shadows with several stars piercing the darkness. "Moonrise" shows a reddish moon just coming up over the horizon by the side of the tree. "Reg harvesting Barley" depicts a tractor looming in front of the tree at twilight, a threatening mechanical monster. Close-up studies of twigs and leaves are exquisitely observed, and the book ends with sequence showing the different stages in painting the canvas "Swallows at 9 pm". A beautiful and fascinating artistic journey, introduced by Alain de Botton. 112pp, colour reproductions on most pages.
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