Gallery 3 - One Moreton Bay Fig Tree Project

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13. Close to the Heart

Close to the Heart
58 cm (w) x 74.5 cm (h), natural charcoal on acid-free drawing paper.
Date produced: May 2006

This was drawn entirely on-site. Close to the heart, the main vessels are large, and flow with energy. Being close to the centre of the tree means close to its ‘heart’. Even though a tree may not have an organ called a heart (as animals have), which acts as a circulatory pump, trees also have circulatory systems. Trees need to bring water and nutrients up from the ground out to all of their leaves for generating energy from photosynthesis, for keeping their cells alive. And they need to distribute the results of all the photosynthesis back to all of its cells, including those in its roots. One might consider the important section of trunk just above the roots to be the tree’s heart. All major circulation passes through this region of the tree. Some trees can pump water silently more than 100 metres above the ground to their leaves. How do they do this, especially when a vacuum can only hold a column of water about 10 metres high?

The subject is also close to my heart. I know this tree from spending much time at it back in 1984. It is a huge organism with marvellous forms and a very strong ‘presence’ (a thrill from just being near the tree) that speaks to my heart.

I am pleased with the composition of this drawing, which was worked out with smaller biro sketches before I started this study.

I am standing close to the centre of the tree. The large forms flowing closely past me make me feel as though I am confronting the ‘presence’ of the tree itself. It is a rich position to do a drawing from and I enjoyed the challenge of it. The angle of view is very wide, which provides enough challenge in itself.

I am pleased with the choice of natural charcoal for this drawing, allowing me to build up and rework areas of soft grey tone. Using sticks of natural charcoal forces me to work fairly broadly, because they don’t really allow for consistent crisp thin line work. Even so, much of the contour line work has to be extremely accurate to convey an accurate sense of the forms, and provide the ‘right’ rhythms. Many contour lines were removed and attempted 3 or 4 times to get them as I wanted them.

I am pleased with the discipline and control shown throughout this drawing. To do this drawing, I had to stand and mainly hold the large drawing board, which proved to be physically demanding and tiring. After a couple of weeks of working this way, I worked out a way of setting the board up on an easel perched precariously on top of the buttress roots. This was much more comfortable for me, but proved to be a pretty fragile arrangement in even a moderate wind, and I often had to revert to holding the board.

I am particularly happy with the sense of ‘contemplative poetry’ I feel from this drawing.




Detail 1:

Close to the Heart - Detail 1





Detail 2:

Close to the Heart - Detail 2





Detail 3:

Close to the Heart - Detail 3





Detail 4:

Close to the Heart - Detail 4


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Gallery 3 - One Moreton Bay Fig Tree Project