|5" x 7" watercolor on 140 lb Fabriano Artistico rough paper|
A quiet walk outside is disturbed by a tumult of squawking. A company of parrots traverses the sky.
Three lanes of traffic on US-1 come to a halt as a peacock casually crosses the road.
A car dealership on Bird Road (I kid you not), first thing in the morning before it is open is sprinkled with pepper - hundreds of nondescript black birds called grackles. They loudly perch in groups on every car, every surrounding wire, and along the rims of bordering buildings. Every day I suppose the employees must rewash the cars if they are ever to hope to sell them.
In Miami, a white ibis, with its orange decurved bill, visits our home so often that my wife has named it. When he appears we call for our son Matthew and stand together at the window, watching, as the ibis strides across our yard. He is "Commander", his bearing so proud that it must be so. Sometimes he brings his army - ten or twenty other birds.
After dropping my son off at a weekly Saturday activity, I'd drive to a spot in downtown Davie, Florida, where the branch of a tree would extend along the shoreline of a canal. There every week, without fail, a white ibis would stand. I like to think it was the same bird week after week. I sketched him and painted the surrounding trees and the leaves on the branch.
The next week, when I returned, the branch had been cut. The ibis was gone, the beauty of the spot diminished.
This also is South Florida.
This little page had a few incarnations. A few months ago I sat in the backyard of my sister-in-law's house in central Florida, and sketched the stylized sun that was hanging on her fence. I then attempted to paint the fence, in yellow ochre, and was not at all happy with the result. I tucked the paper away. Then, when I saw the ibis, I decided to put him on the same sheet. I paint the trunks of the trees and then the leaves in the middle of the page and the leaves were so tedious that I quit. I put off doing anything more with the page - again for weeks (if not months), not wanting to deal with the leaves.
But then I saw master watercolorist David Lobenberg, at his blog here, and his loose treatment of leaves, and I thought - voila! (because that is how artists express excitement - voila!) - and pulled out the page again. I had done this before - why not here? Not all of the leaves had to be so exacting. I began covering the page with a wash and then the impression of the leaves and grasses from memory. I was surprised at the richness of color and the depth. It was enhanced by the yellow ochre underneath I think.
So there you are: a Florida story.
|6" x 3" watercolor on 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico extra white hot press paper|
A few days ago, from a distance, I spotted some more Florida wildlife. Retirees. In their native habitat. A lucky find, I think. Ah, South Florida, with so much to offer.
My Most Valuable Critic has complained that my last three pictures (the two in this post, and the one in the last) look too similar.
"They are so green", she said.
"But they are outside", I replied.
"But they are so green," she said.
"Then you can consider this to be my Green Period!" I replied, brandishing my beret, then tilting it smartly on my head.
And what, I ask you, could she say to that?