55 cm (w) x 75 cm (h), unfixed conté and pastels on acid-free coloured-ground Canson paper.
Date produced: March 2001 - May 2002.
This was produced entirely on-site, at the Botanic Gardens in Adelaide over about 40-50 separate half-day sessions. This magnificent tree has so many interesting features that I wanted to try my skills at capturing some of them. The tree is located in a quiet, shady corner of the Botanic Gardens, away from most of the foot traffic that goes through the gardens. This drawing went through considerable development. In the end, my overall plan for the drawing was to use an 'exaggerated aerial perspective' to capture most of the forms of the tree and the surrounding space. That is, I wanted to use colour to express (or give an indication of) how close or how distant various surfaces were (the more orange a surface was coloured, the closer it felt, and the the bluer a surface was coloured, the more distant it felt). I also wanted to try to express the space and air around the forms using pale blues to surround appropriate sections of the forms. This approach required working with very subtle changes of colour.
I also wanted to include contour lines that were 'felt lines' that I could imagine going around the various 3-dimensional forms that I saw in front of me. I found that these contour lines helped to express the forms that I could see clearly using my stereo vision. I also found that applying grids was useful for indicating surface orientations and spaces.
The combination of the exaggerated aerial perspective, with the contour lines and application of grids over surfaces or spaces, creates new types of images. These images are of real 3-dimensional objects and spaces, but they are not photographic in the colours used.
I am very happy with my finished drawing. A special thanks to all those people who saw me working at the gardens with this piece and passed on encouraging comments.
This drawing was packed and held by me in the seated section of the Indian Pacific passenger train to take it from Adelaide to Sydney, for entering it in the Art Gallery of New South Wales 2002 Dobell Art Prize. I eventually needed to re-pack the drawing for bringing it back to Adelaide on the Indian Pacific passenger train. I was pleased that I managed to get the drawing to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and then back to Adelaide without it suffering any real damage (even though the pastel work is unfixed).