Saturday, January 26, 2013

Field Notes

Notes From My Tree Painting Journal

I just returned from my residency at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. I saw thousands of trees out on the marshes and wetlands. One thing I do for myself is take field notes of trees that I am especially fond of, not always on location, but later on my computer. I find taking a lot of photos and writing notes on location to be pretty distracting, though it works for others. My habit is to just observe as carefully as possible with as few distractions as possible. I train myself to carefully consider the shapes, colors and textures of what I'm seeing and trying to store them away in my mind. When I get back to my office I can jot down these details while they are fresh in my memory. I will take a few photos of the most special trees I see to use later, but the field notes are very helpful.

One of the issues I most often observe are the changes over time to a region. I like to return to a location close to the same month or season each year to compare the extraordinary changes form year to year. This year all of the magnificent pines that were such a feature last year have been burned. They will leaf out again, but for now, look ghostly and sad. A completely different look to a year ago.  The water was much higher in the marshes and the color was different this year. There were many waterfowl but really about half as many as I saw last year. I learned years ago that each new season presents a completely different feel and vision to a landscape. It takes many seasons to understand a place and to fit into it's rhythm. 

Study the environment and you will ever be fascinated....


  1. I hope the pines return. A million and a half burned in September 2011, the big Bastrop, Texas, fire at the Bastrop State Park and they say it will be 50 years before the pines are tall again! Some of the oaks survived, but not the pines. :(

  2. That is so sad Jo. I believe these pines at Merritt Island will be as good as new in a year or two. I believe this was a controlled burn. At least I hope so.

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