When I was a student and when I first graduated I was completely absorbed by abstraction. I always wanted to express my Christian faith in my art practice and I did this with abstract, colour-field inspired work. I was influenced by Agnes Martin and Mark Rothko in particular and the techniques they used for conveying the sublime, beauty, and stillness.

Through some difficult years I sought comfort in nature and was driven by a thirst for quietness. My painting at that time echoed this. I looked for ways to express emotion in the movements and habits of wetland birds and landscape. I experimented with textiles, hand spinning and hand-weaving, enjoying the tactility of the materials. The slowness and repetition of the traditional processes was beguiling. 

North Ronaldsay wool hand-woven into in herringbone twill. Alison Wootten

When I found my painting returning to abstract again I started to think more about conveying meaning and not just emotion. I was experimenting with techniques of layering paint, using repetition and textural mark-making, and exploring colour relationships, creating shallow depths of field and maintaining surface tension.

The approach had its limits and although the results had a spiritual quality to them, and were visually pleasing, the works fell short of carrying meaning beyond a certain depth. By 2015 I had reached a crossroads in my work; I could feel the limitations in my abstract approach and I started to look more closely at icons. I had also started to think more seriously about Orthodoxy.

The turning point for me was taking part in Aidan Hart’s Icon Painting workshops at Walcot Hall, Shropshire. From that point my interest became concentrated entirely on learning iconography and I set up my studio to continue in the same vein at home. I focussed in on practicing what I had learned and trying to develop my skills, but I quickly realised how little I knew and how very much I needed to learn.
I applied to Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts for their Icon Painting Certificate and was accepted. The course started in October 2019.