It was during morning runs and walks through the Hertfordshire countryside that St Albans artist Alex McIntyre became inspired to create her series of paintings.

The artist, who moved to the area from Cricklewood last autumn, is now preparing to exhibit her work at the Free Painters and Sculptors Exhibition in London.

“I absolutely love Hertwood Forest,” says Alex, 32, who created the pieces using recycled cardboard and a type of chalk glue called gesso.

“When I first started it was about connecting with my new surroundings and making sense of what it means to live in an area,” she recalls.

“A lot of my work is informed by using art in the community and I was using it as a process of understanding how to belong and how to connect with the geography of the area.”

In 2012, Alex set up a company called Herts Creation with Martin Heaney in order to work with young people in the community using art.

The pair visit schools in St Albans and across the county, using creative workshops to help students express themselves and interact with each other.

Herts Creation’s latest project, titled Encounter, involves working with sculpture to promote good mental health and wellbeing.

“I think creative expression is really important and I want to help other people to access their own creativity,” explains the Digswell Arts Trust fellow, who grew up in Highgate.

“It might be through sculpture, or it might be through movement.”

And it was through sculpture that Alex, who initially studied a degree in English, began exploring her artistic side, progressing into drawing and painting when she ran out of storage space to keep her sculptures.

“I think there is a really wonderful thing that happens when you try to bring your ideas into expression in a physical form in the world,” explains Alex.

Free Painters and Sculptors Exhibition, Menier Gallery, Southwark Street, London, June 22 to 27, 11am to 6pm. Details: 020 7407 3222,