55 cm (w) x 75 cm (h), conté and pastels on acid-free coloured-ground Canson paper.
Date produced: March 2001 - May 2002
This artwork was produced entirely on-site, in the Botanic Gardens in Adelaide. It required about 40-50 separate half-day sessions at the tree. This inspiring subject is located in a quiet, shady corner of the Gardens. 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 closer a surface was, the more orange it was coloured, the more distant a surface was, the bluer it was coloured). 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 contour lines, and applied grids are devices I developed from doing many biro drawings where I was trying to express forms and spaces, without the use of colour.
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 or linework used. I am not aware of any other person producing images that are anything like this. The media used, of pastels and conté (or charcoal) for the fine, accurate linework, on paper, are the most appropriate media for this type of image.
I am very proud of 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 in 2002, 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).
As with the previous piece shown in this month's display, I was extremely disappointed that this piece was not chosen as one of the finalists in the 2023 Adelaide Park Lands Art Prize. To be unsuccessful with these two (I feel - extremely high calibre) pieces, feels as though it is pointless for me to enter this competition again. I have been successful in this competition in the past, but I have also been disappointed with the quality of the majority of the other work I've seen there that was chosen.