80 x 60 cms. Luminance pencils on Canson Pastel Board. Own reference.
Autumn is my favourite season, one that is highlighted by wonderful changes in colour, especially here in Australia and particularly in its southern region. It’s a season of spectacular contrasts in colour and shape but also of decline as deciduous trees shed their leaves and the surrounding landscape prepares for the oncoming winter.
The exact location of the subject and inspiration of this drawing is audible before it’s visual. Imagine the sound of a babbling creek. It’s a warm day in fact it’s a very warm day! The piercing sun bounces across tumbling water on its way to the sea, catching the spray. Three leaves cling desperately as the torrent of water echoes past, their colours glowing in the morning light. This is a journey that they would inevitably make, part of the cycle of life in the forest. It’s the ‘Autumn’ of their existence, the time when they will look their best before they perish. However, something is not right.
The location of this drawing is the Crystal Cascades in Cairns, Far North Queensland, a popular swimming and picnic location especially favoured by the local inhabitants. The irony is that there is no ‘Autumn’ in the Tropics, only a Wet season followed by a Dry season. Having lived in this region for two extended periods I got to experience the tropical weather and it certainly was a challenge on occasions!
So why the title?
If you spend enough time in tropical rainforests you will notice that there is a constant cycle of regeneration. Leaves are a good example and the forest floor is a great place to witness this state of change, as are the many streams that exist from time to time. The colours in the tropics are stunning and have had an indelible impact on me and are often reflected in the intensity of my tropical artworks.
This drawing is as much about energy as it is about colour. I wanted to create an image where the interaction between the water and the leaves resulted in a unified composition even though there’s on ongoing struggle for (the leaves’) survival. Some of the colours are indeed ‘Autumn’ in their appearance and to me, this could be a scene anywhere, not just the tropics.
And for another surprise!
It’s been a struggle to complete this artwork due to a severe bout of arthritis in my drawing hand, something I’ve dealt with before. I’m on the mend but it’s a timely reminder that I need to be aware of the ‘signs’ in future. My drawing technique is rather ’firm’, but that’s the way I’ve always drawn. Maybe it’s time for less drawing and a return to painting.
This drawing is a metaphor for those (like me) who are in the ‘Autumn’ of their lives. We have a great deal of experience and although we aren’t as sharp and able as we once were, it’s time to ‘shine’ before we face our ‘winter’.