Friday, January 27, 2012

Pines at Merritt Island Wildlife Preserve

Notes From my Tree Journal

This was a wonderful part of the wildlife preserve, right off the paved road. I was there around 9:30 AM when the light was in transition across the field of pines. I really love pine hammocks. I used a birch panel for this painting and it really gives me a different surface than the stretched canvas.The paint has a flatter quality and is harder to soften. It also has a much more atmospheric quality on this surface. The paint stroke is more separated if that makes sense, giving a more deliberate stroke, les blended than painting on canvas. It's fun to experiment with different support surfaces.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Red Cedar at Merritt Island National Wildlife Preserve

Notes From My Tree Journal

I got the time to finish this painting today in the studio. These Red Cedars were especially lovely at Merritt Island Wildlife Preserve. Because of the harsh climate, many of them are missing large parts of their canopy, exposing the beautiful trunks and limbs. They have much more character than the cedars that grow in my neighborhood. They have a wild and interesting growth. Lots of them have broken off limbs. I suppose they are whipped around a lot during coastal storms. They look quite old.

I used the following palette for the painting:

cadmium red light
cadmium orange
yellow ochre
lemon yellow
ultramarine blue
thalo blue
titanium white
mars black

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Senator

I was heartbroken to hear that the Senator has burned and collapsed in Longwood Florida.

I got the information below from Atlas Obscura

Thought to be the eighth oldest tree in the world, the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) affectionately known as the “Senator,” stands in a small park located in Longwood, FL.
Its estimated age of 3,500 years makes it only slightly younger than the carefully guarded Great Basin Bristlecone Pine of California known as Methuselah. To get a good sense of how old this tree really is, one must keep in mind the “Senator” was alive not only during the time of Jesus, but for 1500 years before that when the Greeks destroyed Troy, the Olmecs were powerful in Mexico, Solomon succeeded King David, and Stonehenge was being constructed. Unlike the secret location of the ancient pine, this cypress is very accessible to the public.
The “Senator” is the largest tree east of the Mississippi and currently stands at 118 feet tall with a circumference of 35 feet. A hurricane in 1925 damaged the top of the tree, shortening it from its original height of 165 feet.

The tremendous size of the tree made it useful to both Indians and early settlers as a marker when traveling through the area. Tourists have frequented the area to view the tree since the 1800’s and the land on which it resides was donated to Seminole County by the late Senator M.O. Overstreet to ensure the preservation of the tree. It was in memory of Senator Overstreet that the cypress received its present name. Following the donation in 1927, a ceremony hosted by President Calvin Coolidge, officially opened the property to the public in 1929.
Surrounded today by the Spring Hammock Preserve, the “Senator” shares space with a companion tree known as “Lady Liberty.” This companion Bald Cypress is a comparatively youthful 2,000 years old and stands 89 feet in height with a circumference of 32 feet.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Red Cedar Trees

Notes From my Tree Journal

My favorite trees at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge were the big ancient Cedars. I got several good shots of them and intend to do some paintings soon. I found the information on Red Cedars on the Internet. HERE


Juniperus silicicola: Southern Redcedar1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


This densely-foliated, wide pyramidal, columnar or oval evergreen grows fairly quickly, ultimately reaching heights up to 40 feet with a 25-foot spread. Some individual plants grow wider than tall as they grow older. Some botanists do not make a distinction between Juniperus silicicola and Juniperus virginiana . Its fine-textured, medium green leaves and drooping branchlets help to soften the rather symmetrical, oval juvenile form. Mature specimens of Southern Redcedar take on a flat-topped, almost windswept appearance, making them very picturesque. Bark and trunk on older specimens take on a delightful, `old-tree' look.

Use and Management

The dense growth and attractive foliage make Southern Redcedar a favorite for windbreaks, screens, and wildlife-cover for large-scale landscapes. Its high salt-tolerance makes it ideal for seaside locations. Redcedar can make a nice Christmas tree, and the fragrant wood is popular for repelling insects. Cedar Key, Florida, once had extensive redcedar forests before the lumber was extensively harvested and the wood used for chests and pencils. Although not currently used often as a street tree, its wood is strong, the foliage is clean, and the fruit is small making it a suitable candidate. There are some nice examples of street tree use in southern cities. With proper pruning to remove lower branches, it should adapt well to street-scapes.
Planted in full sun or partial shade, Southern Redcedar will easily grow on a variety of soils, including clay. Growth may be poor in landscapes which are over-irrigated. Plants are difficult to transplant due to a coarse root system, except when quite small. Water until well-established and then forget about the tree. It performs admirably with no care, even on alkaline soil and along the coast. Usually insects and diseases are not a problem if grown in the full sun. There may be local restrictions on planting this tree near apple orchards because it is the alternate host for cedar-apple rust.
Propagation is by seed, which germinate faster if planted as soon as the cones mature or if given a stratification period. Also, tip cuttings can be rooted.
No cultivars are listed but there is ample opportunity to propagate and culture from the wide diversity of shapes and growth habits exhibited by this tree.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Notes From My Adventure to Volusia County

Notes From My Tree Blog

I just returned from a five day residency in Volusia County. The highlight of the trip for me was the diversity of the landscape and the many beautiful trees I saw in the wild places. This county has exceptional protected lands, both at the Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island Wildlife Preserve, as well as the County parks scattered around. I will be posting paintings soon and showing you some photos of the excellent tree specimens I saw, including  Pines, Cedars, huge hammocks of cabbage palms in the marshes, and graceful Canary and Date Palms.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Working on a tough tree painting

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

Right now I'm working on a tough little 9x12 painting of trees at the river. It is giving me a world of trouble. Who knows why? Now and then I work on one that I can't seem to do anything with. It's like being a beginner again. I'm having some issues with color temperature and values on it. I left it on the easel at my loft studio. I'll be painting in New Smyrna Beach for a week, leaving on Monday for my first
Artists in Residence Project for 2012. I imagine some time away from the painting will improve my chances to improve it and finally overcome the challenge. Stepping away from a difficult painting can often solve the problem.

I'll have lots to share when I return so don't give up on me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Trees in My Yard II

Notes From My Tree Journal

This painting  is 9x12 inches on stretched canvas.

I started this painting yesterday and finished it today in the studio from a reference photo I took in the field next to my yard. To me, light and contrast make this painting. I wanted the largest tree, on the right, to be the star with the other two trees as supporting characters. So I gave the right tree the most texture and strongest contrast in light. I also found the weeds and small flowers around the trunks to be very interesting. I made the path more prominent than it really was, to lead the viewer into the painting. I enjoy these small paintings. They give me ideas and technique building to do larger paintings later.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Winter Yard

Notes From My Tree Journal

This is a favorite scene for me. It is the field next to my yard. We leave it unmowed because I love the natural Florida look to it. There are huge pines and  a few Dogwood and Hickory there, as well as Oak Trees. It is winter when I love it the most. In summer it is just green everywhere, but the Florida winter is just superb with smoky blues, mauves, oranges and ochres. The evergreens tend to look more gray green in winter too. I have learned that I am a winter palette painter at heart and I struggle in summer to make sense of the landscape.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Trees Aren't Always the Star

Notes From My Tree Journal

Being a tree painter at heart, it is hard for me not to focus on them all the time in my paintings. Sometimes they have to take second stage in the composition.  The difficulty is in deciding how much or little detail to put into tree masses in the distance. I often simply leave them as dark masses, or gray masses with little contrast. To me it really depends on how much of a vista there is and how distant they are. This is a poor image of the painting as I am known for poor photography, but the trees in this example are not so strong in the real painting. They are softer and more harmonious with the land mass. As you can see, the center of interest is in the marsh grasses around the water flow.

It's so easy to be caught up in the scene wanting to make everything interesting. It takes thought and composing well to know where to create interest and where to knock the detail back.