My Outdoor Summer

Matthew Webber outdoor painting

Epping Forest: My studio for the Summer

Although it often doesn’t look like it, I’ve always considered myself to be a landscape painter. At art college I was interested in the vibrant aerial imagery of Peter Lanyon and the thickly textured abstracts of Nicolas de Stael. Their influence led me to produce some surface-heavy, structured landscapes of my own, although I was always just as interested in the materials I was using as I was in the vista from which my imagery was drawn. The landscape was a starting point that led into the exciting world of paint and surface.

The artists that I admire have changed, but those preoccupations – with the natural world and with paint – have stayed with me ever since. Which is why, until the end of August, I am leaving the confines of my Wanstead studio and heading out into the relative wilds of Epping Forest.

My 30 year-old VW camper van has been converted into a mobile studio, loaded with paints and canvasses and parked in the woods. Each morning I jump on my bike and commute to ‘work’, setting up my plein-air studio so that I can make the most of the 4 hours I have at my disposal each day.

mattpaints plein air

Day one in the woods

It’s hugely enjoyable and remarkably productive, especially when the sun is out. Paint that would take a day to dry in my studio at home, bakes in the sun and is ready for the next layer to be applied in a fraction of the time.

Sourcing new oak rounds

Sourcing new oak rounds

It’s also a homecoming of sorts for some of the surfaces that I’m working on. I visited the forest keepers HQ at The Warren last year and sourced some rounds of original Epping Oak (see above) on which I have been producing some small, sculptural paintings, the first of which were exhibited and sold at The View Gallery in Chingford last December. I hope to exhibit the latest of these at the end of the summer.

I wasn’t sure about this outdoor experiment as I began to formulate my plans, but, so far, it is working better than I could have hoped.

I’ll be adding more images of finished work to my website gallery over the coming days, as well as images of work in progress which will be renewed each day on the social media feed on the home page. Please keep watching.

Meanwhile I’ll keep watching the weather forecast, although at least when it’s raining I can get some writing done…


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