I'm working on a 48x60 commission for a few days. I'll be away from the blog to finish it. I'll be back to this tree blog in a few days. Thanks for being patient. Please don't leave me.
Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) closely resembles its namesake (Usnea, or beard lichen). However, Spanish moss is not biologically related to mosses. Instead, it is a flowering plant in the family Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads) that grows hanging from tree branches in full sun or partial shade. It ranges from the southeastern United States (Southern VA) to Argentina, growing wherever the climate is warm enough and has a relatively high average humidity.
The plant consists of a slender stem bearing alternate thin, curved or curly, heavily scaled leaves 2-6 cm long and 1 mm broad, that grow vegetatively in chain-like fashion (pendant) to form hanging structures 1-2 m in length, occasionally more. The plant lacks roots and its flowers are tiny and inconspicuous. It propagates both by seed and vegetatively by fragments that blow on the wind and stick to tree limbs, or are carried by birds as nesting material.
Painting Spanish moss is not much different than painting other objects. You must think of it in terms of shape, form, values, color and light source. The light source is all important. The tendency is to put too much detail in moss; making it into a cartoon or illustration. The core structure and values are more important. Once you get the basic shape, color and value in place, you will use a few details judiciously to bring it to life. Don’t overdo it. It is rather like painting feathers and hair. Too much detail will give it a pasted on or fake look. Remember, the more distant the moss, the less hard edge and detail you will have. Save the most detail for the area of interest in the painting.