John Hitchens grew up at Graffham, West Sussex and studied at Bath Academy of Art. The wooded Sussex landscape nestling below the South Downs has been a major influence on his work. While he has painted further afield in Scotland and Wales, the West Sussex countryside, where he still lives, has provided him with inspiration for much of his life. In the 1970s and 80s he painted directly in the open air often on a large scale. After painting more conventional compositions with a traditional horizon line he gradually realised that the sky, for so long the starting point for the mood of a painting, had in fact become a limitation. He was searching for the compositional freedom to express the formation of the land with a vigorous, gestural means of expression. These paintings saw him flattening the perspective to eliminate the sky and horizon and entering deep into the woodland, analyzing the shapes and patterns of trees, clearings, light and shade. He painted throughout the seasons reflecting the changing colours of the Sussex countryside. Continually searching and pushing the boundaries, John’s work has continued to evolve into his current abstract style using a restricted range of earth pigments.