Experimental watercolourist and mixed media artist Ann Blockley paints so much more than ‘nature’. Over her lifetime as a professional painter she has developed an extraordinary variety of mark-making techniques in order to express the beauty and poetry of our woodlands. As a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, the Society of Women Artists and The Arborealists, she is one of the UK’s most notable interpretive painters of nature.

Ann only recently came to live in Devon. Her studio, in the annex of her Georgian farmhouse in the rural South Hams, is charming and full of curiosities: pretty hand-painted pots full of brushes adorn the windowsill, as well as elegant branches and curls of silver birch bark.

Its most wonderful quality though, is the view it offers over Ann’s wild, five-acre woodland garden, which she describes as ‘a kind of inspirational plein-air studio, where I can sit and sketch, and gather ideas, and forage for natural materials to incorporate into my work’.

It's certainly the largest, loveliest outdoor studio you could imagine, offering ever-changing inspiration through the seasons. The beauty and privacy of the garden, and Ann’s love of it, brings to mind Monet’s garden, which became a sanctuary he rarely left and the inspiration for many of his paintings.

Great British Life: Ann in her wild woodland studio gardenAnn in her wild woodland studio garden

Ann’s garden has been such an inspiration that in her new book, Poetic Woods, she has dedicated an entire section to it, titled A Year in my Woodland Garden.

In her many books, which include Creativity Through Nature - Natural, Foraged and Mixed Media Art, Ann shares the secrets of her experimental approach to making images, methods for ‘bringing the magic of nature into your work’.

She encourages artists to play with paint, to use photography and collage, to experiment with printmaking and mark making using foraged leaves and other natural materials, and to discover new ways to use studio materials like spray bottles, salt and gesso.

Ann explains her lifelong passion for art, nature and creative freedom in her own writing: ‘When I was seven I lived under a rhododendron bush in The Wood. It was my Gaudi palace with its complex architecture of intricately woven branches, twisting, carved columns studded with the ruby reds of sumptuous flowers. It was my secret haven where I could stand on a throne of logs to recite the poems in my head and make drawings.’

Poetic Woods is published by Batsford Books this month.