When I started to draw, most of my influences were from other painters and illustrators, so I was drawing landscape at second hand, really. The trees were Rackham trees, or trees that I had seen in paintings rather than from my own observation.. And I started to feel this was a real lack in my work. Everything was too generalised, and not based on real experience. Then in 1975, after having worked for some years in London as a book cover illustrator mainly, I came down to Devon and stayed with some friends up on the moor. In the course of this one weekend, wandering around the moor, finding rivers and ancient woods, I realised that everything that I would ever want to draw was actually here. There was so much richness in the texture and forms of these fantastic trees.. And I decided in the course of that weekend to come and live here. I looked at a couple of houses, found one, and made an offer on it, all in that one weekend!
We're freaks, the two of us, Franny and I. I'm a twenty-five-year-old freak and she's a twenty-one-year-old freak, and both those bastards are responsible. I swear to you, I could murder them both without batting an eyelash. The great teachers. The great emancipators. My God. I can't even sit down to lunch with a man any more and hold up my end of a decent conversation. I either get so bored or so goddamn preachy that if the son of a bitch had any sense, he'd break his chair over my head