60 x 80 cms
Luminance, Prismalo & Museum Aquarelle pencils on Canson Pastel Board.
Despite having lived in Cairns for 2 extended periods, having to battle the high humidity in the Wet season was bad enough, but add a good dose of heat and you have can experience some uncomfortable moments. ‘’Air conditioning is the answer!’’ I hear you cry and yes, you are correct, provided you are inside a cool building but what if you’re outside in a rainforest? Even in a well-canopied rain forest there’s little respite from the heat. Mossman Gorge is both one of my favourite forests but the most physically challenging as it’s hot, wet and sticky but oh, the wonderful drawing subjects that exist there make each visit worthwhile!
The Flecker Botanic Gardens is one of my go-to places that I visit each time I return to Cairns. It’s simply wonderful and contains so much ‘grist for my creative mill.’ The plants, flowers (especially the orchids), trees and the variety of leaves are amazing!
I wanted to end the year with a large drawing that tells of my love for this place but at the same time the impact that colour in the Tropics has on me. It’s not all bright and intense colour, there is a lot of decay on the forest floor but on this occasion I wanted to focus on something that was cheerful and uplifting.
I chose a part of a small creek that (usually) flows in the gardens and took numerous photos during a visit there last year. I did some ‘playing’ on my computer and came up with a stylised composition that featured whole and parts of leaves and other small pieces of vegetation that were moving past on, or just below the surface. I chose a ‘hot’ palette and for contrast I used Prussian Blue in the background; flickers of light and sky can be seen as well. If you look long enough at this drawing you will see traces of realism, hence the semi-abstract label. This isn’t an attempt to reproduce what I saw, it’s more to do with how I feel about the subject and its environment.
Being quite abstract, this drawing will not go down well with the majority of CP artists. Realism is by far the most important feature of coloured pencil art subjects and I believe to a certain extent is its Achilles Heel. There is much potential for the medium to feature in other directions, not just photo-realism. I suspect that the majority of positive responses will be about the colours in this drawing, not the composition or shapes but I don’t mind. If an art piece gleans no response, good or bad, it has failed to do its job! All my abstracts are based on observations of Nature. I want each drawing to make ‘visual sense’, so I work hard to make sure I create drawings that have a balanced composition something I believe is essential to every artwork.
If you’ve been watching the progress of this drawing on Facebook or Instagram you would have noticed that I used a grid to draw in the required detail. I use a large grid, dividing my pastel board into 12 equal areas. I don’t trace, in fact I don’t approve of the practice unless it’s of one of your own drawings. Tracing won’t teach you how to draw, it teaches copying. I draw what I choose to see, not what I have to. By using a large grid I can make changes as I go and there are times when I get a different result than I expected. I like the freedom that the ‘unknown’ brings when drawing this way. I always want a drawing that reflects my inner thoughts, not a replication of a photo. I do though accept that we all work differently for a variety of reasons.
Vive La Difference!
An earlier example: “A Tropical Moment.”
I only sold one abstract drawing this year, which only goes to prove that the art market doesn’t favour coloured pencil abstracts. Despite this I’m determined to continue this direction in my work along with my landscape work. Who knows, maybe I’ll attract the attention of some keen buyers next year?
Another example: “Floating in Silence.”
I have a second drawing planned and this will feature some semi-submerged leaves, partly covered by rippling water. These drawings take me about a week to complete but I’ll no doubt slow down for the festive season.
Whether you’re a subscriber or a casual reader of this blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you for your support throughout 2018 and wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!