“When I begin to draw an old tree I’m struck by a powerful feeling of my being a short-lived creature amongst ancients.”

Artist Tansy Lee Moir working in her studio in South Queensferry,
Photo credit: Sheila Masson

I aim to capture the essence and energy of trees, transmitting their life force through my artwork. I’m particularly interested in the old ones, the broken ones, the trees whose stories are written in their forms. An ancient oak may have lived five centuries before the moment I draw it and continue another five centuries after I leave. ‘Tree-time’ is very different to our own.

a drawing of a tree in red conte crayon shown with the treeI work in the woodland and the studio, foraging for images amongst the trees, connecting with individuals through my drawings and transforming those intense visual memories into studio pieces. Bodies of work form around themes which chime with my own human experiences: veterans adapt inventively to their wounds and phoenix trees symbolise a hopeful resilience in the face of adversity.

The process of making my work feels more akin to sculpture, carving out contour lines, erasing away deep layers of charcoal, scraping and wiping oil paint to reveal light and form.

an oil painting of a tree in red umber
‘On solid ground’, oil on canvas 100x120cm

My paintings explore the sensual, expressive qualities of the trees I find, but are still very much grounded in close observation. Drawing is always at the heart of the process. My charcoals play with ambiguity, blurring the boundaries between tree, figure and bodies of water, allowing the viewer to make their own meanings.

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Ultimately my aim is a simple one – to make art which encourages us to really look at trees, to acknowledge and appreciate them as life forms which are a vastly different to, but no less important than ours, and to reflect on our own lives having learned from them.

Visit the woodland with me in this short film about my work.

Read more about how I make my art on my blog.

Have a look around my studio in 360 degrees here.

Keep in touch with my artwork, teaching and events by subscribing to my Studio Newsletter.

“I love your drawings Tansy, they are so beautiful. They are also very ‘tree-ish’ and really show your deep love and understanding of trees – you have the skill of creating on paper the ‘tree-ness’ of trees. Sarah, Permission to Draw student

Read my full artist statement here»