SABAL PALM triptych
Sabal palm triptych is a collaborative work with three artists, Jacqui Pestell, Işık Güner and Sarah Roberts. Later Sharon Tingey has joined with a brush load with paint.
When the Sabal Palm was standing alone in the glass house, we had access to it and manage to draw and colour match as closely as we could the free fronds and the fruits from the palm. Separately we were able to really experience the full power of the giant palm and record through our sketches of colour mixing. The multitude of orcas, sage green, dark rich blue grays that were involved with the multi layer foliage in this giant palm tree.
This was back in September 2021 while the Palm is still standing. It was labeled as Sabal bermudana - a red listed endangered species of the Bermuda. Then it is renamed by Dr Axel Dalberg Poulsen as Sabal mexicana which was a relief as we know now it is not endangered.
RBGE Glass House June 2022
Sabal palm triptych is a collaborative work with three artists, Jacqui Pestell, Işık Güner and Sarah Roberts. Later Sharon Tingey has joined with a brush load with paint. This is a quite uniqe way of working on the same painting with three individual artists. Different techniques and the styles of working mixed together. We were fearlessly painting layers on top of each other’s underlying brush work.
Our studio for the duration is the home of the Sabal Palm with the 180 years of growing. Here we are to bring life back to this beautiful specimen and what a wonderful place to carry out the painting for the Sabal Palm - the home of the tree. Perfect atmospheric conditions for us to feel really in the mood and capture the characteristic of the fine tree.
Beside our prepared sketches and ideas, working form a giant photographs patching and constructing our drawings using different images together we begin to compose perfect composition for each piece.
The experience painting the Sabal Palm triptych at first seems really daunting. Those huge pieces of 2,5 meter high white paper before us will need to be covered with paint and detailed information to describe this fantastic tree which no longer stands.
Our first painting was the giant frond of the palm. This was a life size specimen where we try to realize the structure of the giant frond; too many veins were coming together in the center and the frond were flicking out from the top. The reality of the complex geometric frond structure and with the formation of proof to be much more difficult than we thought. To capture the right order of every upper vein leading out to an individual tip was indeed much more difficult than we initially thought. We needed to lay down multi layers of colours and building up beautiful strength of greens grays and blues to be able to capture this gigantic frond. There was a whole range of wonderful pale dusty grays blues to greenish grays and rich olive type colours in our palette. Rich colored palette made the huge frond even more interesting.
Moving on the tree, here our challenge was to draw whole tree on a piece of paper which was 7 times reduced of the actual size of the palm. We needed to create the perspective, the correct angle to look up to that tree, describe its magnificence was no easy feature.The foliage was tricky because all the angles was very multifaceted, and the fronds were sticking out to the different positions, overlapping each other. We had to really see what was in front, what was to the side and what was to the back. We dealt with some of that by using the same paler tones for the background and through that the branches of the fruits at the center pop through - the tiny little black beads amongst all those beautiful leaves. The trunk again took so many layers of painting that we thought we will never going to complete it. We had to reshape the angle of that trunk just when we thought it is finished to get the right perspective.
Third painting of the big branch of fruits that we thought will be easy. There are not straight lines, there is not a complex shape, but millions and millions conical fruits. The entire branch was full with different colours of dark, purply blues to musty green grays to lovely browns. All were hanging on those branches. We had to make sure that all the cluster of fruits led somewhere, led back to main branch and came from the right place. We had to get the balance right of thinner branches that are coming from the top and breaking up some of the space. There was a lot adjustments from our photographs. We had to piece many photographs together to get just the right angle and the right images that we needed. This one was really enjoyable and the colours were gorgeous.
It was one challenge to paint life size with the frond and the brach of fruits but equally challenging the whole tree reduced down by seven times to perfect scale and proportions of the whole tree. All paintings are 240 x 120 cm in watercolour.
It was a privilege to be able to carry out these paintings for our archive of the RBGE to mark the important occasion - saying goodbye to oldest tree of the glass house.