I have no idea what kind of tree I drew in the last exercise ‘Sketching an Individual Tree‘ but my subject for this exercise was very interesting. In the same ‘Trees in Literature’ section of the park was a Banyan tree, and this one was a wonderful example.
The Banyan Tree
The Banyan tree or ‘strangler fig’ is the national tree of India, it is pollinated by fig wasps and then the seeds are dispersed by fruit eating birds. If the seed is dropped on soil it is unlikely to survive but often the seeds are dropped on branches of other trees, where they germinate and send roots to the ground. The strangler fee often envelops part of the host tree and is also known to starve the host tree until it has rotted away inside.
The tree in Chatuchak park had been well and truly taken over and it looked to me like the strangler fig was squeezing the host tree so tightly that the tree had been deformed by it’s grasp, with the branches of the host reaching out in every direction as though they were desperately reaching out for help.
The sun was behind the tree facing me and so the tree was quite dark which was great because I got to use some wonderful tones and like the previous drawings of my alien tree in the last exercise the finished drawing came off looking quite ‘bio arty’.
I started with a 6B pencil and then realised after about an inch of drawing, that the 6B pencil on the more toothy A3 sheet I was using, was far too smudgy and so quickly changed to a 4B pencil.
I began by drawing the outlines of the branches in the top left hand corner of the paper and then drawing in the leaves with a squiggly line technique and from their I moved onto the texture of the branches and then did the same with the top right hand corner working my way down to the tree trunk. This was to make sure I didn’t smudge anything with the palm of my hand. Finally I worked my way to the roots of the tree through the tree trunk.
With the sun being behind the tree I had to try and depict the sun shining through the tree branches and leaves in some way. I tried doing this by drawing the leaves more lightly on the right hand side. I was going to drag my putty rubber lightly over the top from the center of the leaves outwards in a star shape but then forgot and sprayed the drawing with hair lacquer too early.
Most of the leaves that are in the drawing are not on the tree itself but rather on the trees around it with the host tree being practically bare but I wanted to use the branches of the Banyan tree to frame the life of the other trees above and behind it. The reason why I did not do a full background to the drawing was that it would not have done the tree justice plus I wanted to make it look like the life within the branches was spilling over through the roots of the fig hanging off the branches.