Category Archives: Book

Artist’s Books – Medieval Trees

I’ve always loved the idea of artist books and have plenty of sketch pads with designs, tree11projects and drawings. So at last, I’ve finally got around to making a hand bound book of my own.  It combines three interests of mine, the medieval art style, liner projects that explore a theme and bookbinding.

I’ve put together a couple of books before but this time I decided to do it properly and bought myself the right tools for the job. So with this in mind, my recent art works have IMG_20190228_125654been looking at how trees were portrayed by artists through the Late Middle Ages.

From borders to hedgerows

The images start with the heraldic border designs, flowery lines with leaves and buds that dangle down the page and trail across the tops and bottoms. As the church relaxed its attitude to depicting nature, artists increasingly began to explore painting trees.

Their first attempts show lollipop style trees and any parent will be familiar with a green blob on a stick. These gradually developed to a stage where there are tree shapes filled in with leaves. tree5

Superstar artists

By the 12th century artists were becoming more and more recognised and with the arrival of Giotto di Bondone the superstar painters had begun. Prior to his fame, artists were merely seen as craftspeople with a technical skill.

IMG_20190227_125521Cimabue, Duccio, Martini and the Lorenzetti brothers all brought their own take on nature and with it secured the status of artists in society.

Drawing trees

Eventually the way of drawing leaves changed from simple ellipses to more complicated ideas. Here you can see the type of foliage that could have been found throughout the era.

By the end of the 14th century artists had started to nail painting nature and were capable of capturing the rich diversity of trees present in the landscape. It is really interesting to follow how artists, over time, looked at the world around them and IMG_20190303_092446_6experimented in painting vegetation.

Hand bound books

The idea now is to compile these paintings into a leather, hand bound book. I will also make a limited series of 24 watercolour paintings reproduced as digital prints and stitch these into an A5 copy of the original artworks.

If you’re interested in obtaining one of these rare books about the story of Medieval Trees, please email me for further information at –

Feathers from the Angel’s Wing

feathers-danaprescottThe other week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Dana Prescott’s presentation of her new book, Feathers from the Angel’s wing, at Civitella Ranieri castle in Umbertide. By lovingly collecting poems over the last 20 years, Dana has taken a novel approach to viewing artworks that explore a person’s emotional reaction to the paintings of Piero della Francesca.


Piero’s influence

Piero was born over the border in Sansepolcro, Tuscany and within a short distance of his birthplace you can still find many of his works. Over the last 600 years his artwork has influenced and touched many poets and painters down the ages. Feathers from an Angel’s Wing, brings to life the thoughts of those long departed, as well as contemporary poets still alive today.



Over time, there have been many commentators on Piero della Francesca’s paintings but where this book differs is by collating the feelings poets had when viewing his images. Artists naturally deal in emotions, and what better form of compliment than having a poet describe their reaction to a piece of work.

The book also features  poems in Italian and acknowledges the valuable and often overlooked contributions of the translators, who were on  hand to recite poems in their native language, giving the presentation a wonderful, international feel.


Painting ingredients

My personal favourite is 1400 by the American poet, Albert Goldbarth. This one sentence monologue goes through the various ingredients Piero would have used in mixing his paints back in the 15th century.

“Saps, and the anal grease of an otter, and pig’s blood, and the crushed-up bulbous bodies of those insects that they’d find so thickly gathered on barnyard excrement it makes a pulsing rind”


Madonna del Parto

It is a list of the gory, the common place and the down right strange but as the poem concludes, it perfectly illustrates the care and commitment that went into producing the medium for depicting the saints and angels of the Early Renaissance.


Where to find della Francesca?

Piero della Francesca’s artwork can be found around Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche,  his painting, Madonna del Parto, can be seen in Monterchi. A couple of miles away, The Resurrection and Polyptych of the Misercordia are on display in Sansepolcro and on the coast, in Rimini, there is the fresco, Malatesta praying in front of St Sigismund.


Duke and Duchess of Urbino

The Flagellation of Christ and the Madonna di Senigallia, can be found in Urbino and the beautifully detailed History of the True Cross and Magdelana are in  Arezzo. While in Perugia you’ll find the Polyptych of Perugia and a little further north in Florence you can see the famous portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino.

Feathers from an Angel’s Wing is available from Amazon