Forest Walk

My first painting in my people-in-nature series is a woman walking in the forest. A park near my house is a piece of forest with a trail that cuts across a winding creek. Other than the trail, it’s fairly undeveloped and wild. Trees fall down, get uprooted, ivy and weedy plants grow everywhere, tall pines tower above. I’ve gotten very close to great blue herons, hawks and owls here.

For me, it’s a refuge from the crowded city of Atlanta where I live. Forests represent magic and passion. And the scary and unknown. I feel sharper and more in tune with life when I walk there.

In this painting I wanted to show a woman walking alone against the chaotic patterns in nature. The characters in the painting are not just the woman walking but also the forest itself.

Stage 1 – Drawing with Underpainting


For the surface I used a product called Aquabord. It’s a rougher clay surface on board that works well for acrylics. I drew the image, and traced some of the foliage from a large B/W print of a photo I took (I use a printer at Kinkos for oversize B/W prints). I added washes of warm golden and orange acrylics.


Added the darks and a blue green color, greyed down to contrast with the warmth of the painting.

Stage 2 – Detail and collage


Added more details to the leaves.


At this stage, the painting didn’t seem as dramatic as my original vision. I decided to add collage elements. I just roughly taped in painted papers in a few sections to see if it would work.I finally went for it and added collage. The collage elements are papers I’ve collected and painted over. For this painting, I used my grandmother’s garden club bulletins (I inherit a lot of interesting ephemera) and some wrapping paper that had pine cones on it. I adhered the papers with an acrylic gel medium.

Final Forest Walk-Crop
Detail of collage from “Forest Walk”

The final painting. I’ve read that the forest symbolizes a journey into the unconscious and a possible transformation. This may be a symbolic self-portrait of sorts.

Forest Walk
“Forest Walk,” 22″ x 30″ collage and acrylic on Birch panel. Collage includes wrapping paper, vintage garden club bulletins. Sealed with a UV-protectant varnish.