Allestree artist takes pigment from Derbyshire landscape to create beautiful abstract paintings

A fine art student took pigments from the countryside she was painting to make sustainable colours to create original abstract landscape paintings.

Anya Bell, 22, ground down leaves, soil, rocks and grass before mixing them with water taken from streams and a sustainable binder to create new paints that are kind to the environment.

“I wanted to find a way to get closer to the scenes I was painting and to do this in a sustainable way, and so I decided to use the natural resources of the landscapes around me,”

said Anya, who took inspiration from the Peak District.

“Art can be bad for the environment, which not everyone realises. For example, acrylic paint can seep into streams when it’s washed down the drain and be damaging.

“So I wanted to use materials which gave a true reflection of what I was painting, which caused no problem for the environment in any way.”

Anya, who wants to become an art teacher when she graduates, used linseed oil and gum arabic as a binder for her paints. She painted onto three large pieces of plywood, rather than canvas, which she had sanded down and primed.

The only colour Anya could not take from the environment was blue, which instead she acquired from a retailer which stocked paints made from naturally derived sources.

Rather than being a realistic reflection of the landscape she is observing, Anya created abstract art to reflect the feelings of the Derbyshire countryside.

“It’s not meant to be figurative or lifelike. The paintings are about the atmospheric part of painting,”

said Anya, who is originally from Allestree in Derbyshire.

“Taking the pigment from the natural landscape has changed my whole practice. It’s given me a connection to the landscape and a deeper feeling of the place I’m in.

“It’s also provides a real tactile quality to my work. There are bits of grass and stone that can be seen close up in the paintings.

“People are very aware of the importance of sustainability and this is a great way to adhere to that and portray it.”

The Nottingham Trent University student will see her works go on public display for the university’s 2023 art and design Student Showcase, which is one of the UK’s largest public displays of graduating art and design talent.

Geoffrey Litherland, senior lecturer in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University, said:

“Anya has created original and sustainable colours to create beautiful abstract paintings which denote the feeling she gets when enjoying the Derbyshire countryside.

“It shows how sustainability can be put at the centre of art and form the basis of original materials and works.”

Posted on 16 May 2023

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Jack Woolley