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Cambridge-based artist showcases the beauty of trees in new book

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Into the Woods by Debbie Baxter
Into the Woods by Debbie Baxter

Debbie Baxter has an intense and lifelong passion for painting trees, and this passion is displayed in a delightful new book entitled Into the Woods.

Published in April by Norfolk-based firm Mascot Media, this eye-catching 96-page tome - the profits of which will go to a tree charity - is both a celebration of trees and a call to action to preserve our ancient woodlands.

To enhance the work, Debbie has got together with a friend, author and poet Gary Milsom, to create poetry that complements and illuminates each work of art.

An international artist of considerable talent - and a member of the long-established Cambridge Drawing Society - Debbie appeared in an episode of the BBC's Countryfile discussing her work in November last year, alongside her mother Daphne, a renowned painter of wildlife.

Formerly a student at St Albans School of Art, Debbie also studied under the tutelage of Daniel Samuels - an international mythological painter - and likes nothing better than to immerse herself in nature and capture the beauty of trees. Debbie spoke to the Cambridge Independent a day after returning from the US and Canada, where she had gone to Seattle and Victoria to scout for possible artistic locations.

"The book is called Into the Woods and it's a celebration of my relationship with trees, as an artist," explains Debbie, who lived for some years in Indonesia, "and I've done it as a collaboration with Gary Milsom.

"Basically, I've given him the outline of my sentiment, or my relationship with a particular tree, and he's then turned it into a poem.

"I really like rhyming poetry because I think it has better flow - and so the book is filled with about 40 poems and about 40 images."

Into the Woods by Debbie Baxter
Into the Woods by Debbie Baxter

Debbie notes that her appearance on Countryfile has led to more interest in her work, and that the people she met who purchased examples of it following the programme all had a story to tell about their own relationship with trees.

Into the Woods - which includes a variety of different woodland scenes painted in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Norfolk - had been on the cards for Debbie's for some time. "I wanted to do a book that had all of my images together," she observes, "because you can tell a story in a painting but you can tell a bigger story in a collection of paintings.

"A lot of my paintings are about walking into the woods and discovering areas that you might not really look at while you're just walking through. So I wanted to really bring home the idea that people can see what I've seen: the magic of the forest."

Debbie says it's "highly likely" that Into the Woods may be the first in a series of books, as she is always looking for new places in which to paint and explore. "I've just done a week in Devon," she reveals, "where there are these beautiful oaks.

"I'm also going to do a solo exhibition of my time in Dartmoor, so that would be another series - and I'll possibly do some paintings in the States as well. I'm just bringing awareness to what we have in the trees around us."

Pages from Into the Woods by Debbie Baxter
Pages from Into the Woods by Debbie Baxter

For anyone who might be interested, Debbie will be running an open-air course - how to paint outside and develop your painterly style - at Wandlebury Country Park in May and June, and then again in July and August. The first course started on Monday (May 22) and takes place every Monday until June 10, from 12pm-3pm.

A second course then starts on Saturday, July 27 and continues every Saturday thereafter until August 24, from 9am-2pm. There are a few places left. To register, email Debbie at debbiebaxterart@yahoo.co.uk.

Debbie will also be giving a talk and presenting a slideshow on her book at Wandlebury on Tuesday, September 17, at 7.30pm.

Into the Woods is available to buy now. For more information, visit artdkbaxter.com.

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