On Your Doorstep Issue 7 - Page 54

HEATHER MILLER BEYOND I grew up in a city where my contact with nature was limited to my noisy, rather wild garden which backed onto a railway line. In my twenties, I tired of the greyness of city life and moved to Hertfordshire. My new home was beside a river and every morning I woke to hear the wonderful sound of the water tumbling over the nearby weir. Quite a change from the unrelenting background mumble of London traffic. I can still remember my astonishment when a short walk transported me into a new green world of trees and peace. It felt right, I felt grounded, I had come home. The beauty and mystery that captivated me all those years ago in my adopted county continues to do so and I strive to bring those qualities to my work. The wonderful thing about Hertfordshire is the variety of the landscape. Beautiful woods and forests often sit beside hilly meadows and fields. Much of the land around where I live is farmed and the changing seasons and natural colour palette are evidenced by the rhythm of the planting, growing and harvesting of the crops. I regularly walk in this terrain and it struck me that so much beauty is overlooked. Not only is there appeal in the more traditional views and vistas, but there is much to beguile within the undergrowth, foliage and beyond. This realisation has developed into a fascination with what others often seem to overlook. A leaf shape. The bough swaying in the breeze. The line of a stem. The bark of a tree. Contrasts of colour and shape. The action of peering through all of this into what is beyond. These days you are likely to find me sitting with my sketchbook and camera in the undergrowth watching the filtering of light on the forest floor. In this way, my work becomes like a meditation on the intrigue and mystic qualities of the scene Once back in the studio I take my sketches and observations and paint. I am not trying to make a facsimile of what I have seen. Nature itself and photographers are much more suited to that type of representation. My aim is to create a reaction, an impression of what I see. Consequently, my paintings have developed a semi-abstract quality that somehow resonates with my reaction to the landscape. I feel very privileged to live in such a beautiful county, one that has so much natural charm and yet is close to some of the less agreeable but practical aspects of modern life, such as access to transport links to other parts of the country. All in all, I think residents of Hertfordshire are very lucky indeed, we really do have the best of both worlds! Untitled image 54