On Tuesday, I went out painting with artists of TASGOB at the Viera Wetlands. The sun was warm, the fog lifted as we arrived and the choices for painting locations and subjects was a little overwhelming. White pelicans floated serenely across the water. Blue herons tended to their fast-growing fledglings. Large alligators cruised among the flocks of cooters and ducks, with their bodies submerged and their eyes skimming above the glassy surface like a surrealist image. Baby alligators practiced their menacing glares.
I settled in to paint the landscape and soon got into a “zone” developing the layers of greens and browns in the grasses and trees and exploring the reflected colors in the winding pools. Painting forces me to edit the view around me and distill it into the two dimensions of the panel before me. This is difficult in such a rich setting. I wanted to capture every passing bird and the unique personalities of every twisted palm tree. Mostly, I wanted to express the experience of just being in the midst of such a wealth of life. For that day, I could only capture some of the sunlight as it bounced back to me from the weeds and the water, but it was a start.
Sunburned and paint-covered, I packed up and prepared to leave. Five or more hours had slipped by and all the others had gone home quite some time before. Lunch had long gone by, according to my tummy, so I loaded up the car and headed out. A few yards down the road I paused – a blue heron had caught a huge fish. Out came the camera and I got some beautiful shots. A few more yards – there was an alligator…no, two…wait, three. Then there was a bird with his tail fanned out, challenging all intruders. His feathers were black with an iridescent shimmer of blue and violet, and he posed dramatically as he sang out his threats. More alligators. More birds. More hours. Eventually, I came to the gate and finally headed home in time for supper.
I may get the painting posted soon – I’m letting it dry before I bring it in the house and try to photograph it. (My previous painting was edited by large cat feet – extra toes.) In the meantime, I do have these photos.