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Let me tell you a story...

Why do I paint?

As a child I lived in a very rural area in Suffolk. From the age of 3 to 18 the deep countryside was my home and it's had an everlasting effect on my life. Aside from learning so much about nature, wildlife and how people lived, it became my sanctuary. Sitting on the banks of the beck which flowed through the village was my quiet place as a child. I walked the family dog and escaped the difficult atmosphere at home. As I walked 300 yards down the hill to the beck, the stress and anxiety began to lift and I found relaxation beside the water as it babbled and flowed.

The area where I grew up in Suffolk

As a teenager I experienced my first bout of depression. I cried everyday. Nobody would help me because they all felt I was far too young to be depressed. Looking back I know I was depressed because I have since been treated for it all my adult life. I was so lost back then. Thankfully, I had the countryside to bring me brief periods of peace as I walked through long grass, crossed wheat fields and watched the wildlife go about it's business.

Now when I return to the depths of the wild landscape of Suffolk I still get that sense of peace. It is so profound that I can feel my shoulders relaxing as soon as I am on my way. Fortunately, even though I now live in a town, the fields and trees are just 10 minutes away by car. My husband and I are keen campers and we go regularly. I just love to lay there at night listening to the owls, and then in the early morning the dawn chorus and rustle in the hedges as the day begins. Of course I always take my sketchbook!

Why am I telling you all this? Because it is the reason why I paint landscapes. As I paint I am lost in the scenery and the memories of how I feel so much comfort in it. My paintings become a snapshot of the calm that was induced by it - both internally and externally.

Painting not only brings me peace but also joy in the fact that others find quietude themselves in my paintings. That is really awesome to me - to feel I can make a difference to others through what I do. I paint to keep me well, and my well-being helps others.

My experience of living in the countryside has built a strong regard for British wildlife and the environment. I really care about conservation of our natural landscapes. Fortunately, Suffolk boasts some great work in conservation across all regions - heathland, coastal areas, hedgerows, saltmarshes, estuaries, meadows, woodlands and more.

Not only do I really care about the physical aspects of the countryside, I also really care about mental health and well-being. Yes, being in the wild landscapes among nature has a powerful effect on the mind and can aid healing. What about being creative? Being creative is holistically beneficial, having positive effects on physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. I see this first hand when I teach workshops. Seeing the difference it makes helps me with my health too.

Lastly, I want to share why trees feature so much in my paintings. Apart from their aesthetic properties, trees to me are really symbols of strength, flexibility and spirituality. They remind me that I can bend in the breeze when things are difficult, and that they are firmly rooted to the earth (grounded) and reach gracefully up to the sky towards heaven. They literally connect heaven and earth for me. They also change with the seasons. That reminds me that the only constant thing is change, and that I can grow with each change. My inspiration and motivation very much waxes and wanes with the seasons too, so if I get the feeling I want to hibernate in the winter I am reassured that it will pass and spring will soon be coming.

There are of course ancient beliefs around trees so I have included a link below which is an interesting read. I have also included links about Suffolk wildlife and conservation, as well as some articles about how creativity can help with recovery from mental health issues.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story, my "why I paint". It means a lot.

Debs x



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