Gallery 3 - Microcosm Project - One Moreton Bay Fig Tree


Study of Forms Like Flowing Lava

Study of Forms Like Flowing Lava
73 cm x 55 cm, charcoal on paper.
Date produced: 2006, while living at North Adelaide (2005-2006).

Drawn completely on-site, directly from the subject. Here, I had been trying to produce a very detailed study of the tree’s forms from one particular angle, which shows several characteristic sections of the tree.

I have used overcast lighting, to show the forms without misleading patches of bright sunlight. With some sections of the drawing, I have needed to wait for overcast light to be sure of the final tonal relationships that I’ve developed. The meshes drawn over the forms are extremely important for the accurate expression of the forms and orientation of the surfaces.

I have gone through about 4 pencil sharpeners so far, keeping good points on the charcoal pencils used for this fine development work. Most of this drawing has been done using sharply-pointed charcoal pencils. Unfortunately, a lot of time was required for just keeping the points of the charcoal pencils sharp. I worked almost exclusively on just this one drawing over September, October and November 2005. The closer I looked at the subject, the more I wanted to try to capture the rich variety of detail enjoyed.

One could argue that the energy and time spent on this one drawing is extravagant, and that I’d be better served putting that time into producing more drawings of a simpler nature. That may prove to be the better course of action - I just know that I wanted to try to keep developing this drawing to a satisfactory level of finish. I believe that the ’finish’ achievable in such a charcoal drawing is an important aspect of the artwork, and that I am learning much that will help my future drawings.

This drawing has been taking a lot of time to develop, because:

1) I’ve been enjoying trying to capture the subtleties within the forms and surfaces experienced - the finer the level of detail desired, the greater the amount of work required;

2) It has been taking a while to develop the ’finished’ lines used to express the cross-sectional shapes and surface orientation of the various forms, along with the tonal rendering - these lines, to be highly successful, require considerable precision;

3) The media have been difficult to manage - the paper is good for pastel (and lots of reworking), but seems to have too much tooth for the level of finish I’m trying to achieve with charcoal - also, the charcoal pencils have been producing a different type of mark on the paper to natural charcoal, and have been blunting the pencil sharpeners quite quickly;

4) The weather has been generally very windy and wet, making it difficult to get fine control or continuity.

Even though this drawing is not finished, it clearly shows that forms can be expressed well using a combination of carefully observed tones with an overlay of grids and/or repeated ‘felt’ cross-sectional lines. I am very happy with the subtlety of the results I achieved.


Detail 1:

Study of Forms Like Flowing Lava - Detail 1


Detail 2:

Study of Forms Like Flowing Lava - Detail 2


Detail 3:

Study of Forms Like Flowing Lava - Detail 3


Detail 4:

Study of Forms Like Flowing Lava - Detail 4


Gallery 3 - Microcosm Project - One Moreton Bay Fig Tree