Eucalypts, the giants of the Australian Outback

Botanical art

Oh, these gum trees, these river red gums, are magnificent trees, growing along the banks of the Darling River.

Eucalyptus tree

The drought in the Outback has put stress on the environment, with the annuals and many perennials not appearing. This has made these ancient gum trees even more noticeable.

And their presence creates habitat for birds, insects and small mammals, who need their protection in this stark environment.


The holes in the trunk and branches are prized nesting sites.

River Red Gum

I wanted to pay tribute to these elders of the rivers. I know that I will come back to them to paint and sew their stunning bark. Can you see the patterns and the colours? But while I was away I created a realistic watercolour of a piece of river red gum bark.

How did I go about creating this painting?

Part of my problem was which piece to choose? I was attracted to so many pieces under the trees because of their colours and textures. Some twisted, some had amazing patters. It was the colours that made me want to paint this one, and the grooves, cracks and fissures.

river red gum bark

I began, as I often do, with a tonal drawing. I like to understand where the darks and the lights are, how to create the illusion of 3D that comes with realistic, botanical art. This was done in my sketchbook.

Tonal drawing


Then it was time to mix the colours. I only had a small range of paints with me, so while the colour wan’t an exact match, I was happy with it. I used the back of the paper as the testing sheet. So, if you buy this work it will come to you with the story of it’s creation on the back!

mixing paint

After a light pencil outline of the piece of bark, I wet where the paint was to go. Then the beauty of watercolour comes into play. I love to see how the colours work together, enjoying the serendipity of what is happening. The first layer is loose, to establish the tones.

You can see that first layer in the top half of the painting. I had begun to work into the detail of the bottom half before I remembered to take a photo.

realistic art


The delight of following the lines on the bark to create the fold and cracks was a meditative process! The final touch were the shadows that make you feel like you can lift the piece of bark off the page.

Botanical art


I was pleased with the finished work. I think it captures the strength and the fragility of those mighty river red gums, protectors of their environment.



Botanical art

This original watercolour painting is for sale for $80.00.

It’s in my Etsy shop, or contact me for further information.


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2 Replies to “Eucalypts, the giants of the Australian Outback”

    1. It’s a great idea Catherine. Maybe organza with hand stitching. You would have to glue it onto the bark. I wonder how that would go…..

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