Great Garden Sketchabout #6 – Specimen palm

March 11, 2011


Photographed 3pm, 2 Feb 2011; sketched 8×10″ graphite pencil, 5pm, 3 Feb2011 and modified with Staedtler fineliner 0.1mm pen, 4 Feb 2011.

More a “note” for a sketch than a sketch, given the debilitating heat and humidity. This is at one of the exits/entrances of the Rainforest Walk. The photo is actually better compositionally; I like the raffish horizontals versus the plump verticals. I stood head-on to one of the branches in the sketch as a legacy from my involvement in the last few weeks with foreshortening, with foreshortened hands and arms right in the viewer’s face specifically.

I may have to work the seed pods from the photo – standing or sitting on the narrow footpath would pose a safety hazard to passers-by! Aesthetically there are challenges given that except for the branches and the massive seed pods, the entire object is mostly enclosed in near-darkness, but obviously at 3pm there is a far more ‘delineating’ sense of background light. I like the contrasting cliveas in front of the palm; not sure about the extent to which I should include the full length of all the fronds but cropping them seems like amputation! The pattern on the seed pods recalls an illustration in Doreen Roberts’ book on sketching; one’s influences are never far away! I can see a “proper” sketch of this is going to an involve a detailed, A4-sized drawing, especially since there are two plants here in close proximity.

I look forward to sitting down with a Gardens guide sometime who can help me identify the plants and trees I am sketching. The Gardens have also changed both so little and so much over the last four decades that I am both reassured and confused by what I see. I wonder if the Gardens management has photos of how everything looked in 1970.


Roberts, Doreen. Drawing Workshop. London: Guild Publishing, 1991. Roberts devotes separate chapters to subjects like Flowers & Natural forms, Towns & Buildings, People Animals & Movement. Wonderful student sketch of pineapple anatomy on page 67, in pastel no less, with a delicious pen and wash sketch of palm fronds on page 71.


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