You may notice a signature on this draft of the painting…ignore it. The canvas was originally intended to be an abstract painting, but I just couldn’t leave it there. In this image I’ve begun laying in the distant line of trees that protect this little wetland from the world.
I intended to show the painting in more stages but I got all caught up in painting and forgot to pause for the camera. Sorry about that! Here it is, completed:
You’ll notice that the finished painting appears to be a much higher key than it started out as. Hm. I think that is a function of adding elements, plus perhaps differences in lighting. I liked the water just as it was, and so set about layering in vegetation to give context to the egret stalking about in the foreground.
This ecosystem has changed, and will continue to change. You’ll notice the tree snags in the center. Water levels were altered at some point, allowing trees to get growing there. Then drought ended, water rose, and the trees died. This is good news for herons that nest in dead trees. Eventually these snags will rot away, and the birds will have to find a new place to hang out. That is fine, if we allow it to happen. Sometimes the conservation community gets hung up on what was, and tries to force the natural world to stay still. We expend tremendous amounts of effort and money trying to keep habitats just as they are, forgetting that nature is always changing and evolving. I think we can let go, a little. This may even apply to exotics. Certainly alien species can look like thugs that will take over the world. We wage endless wars against them, often creating the precise conditions they need in the process. What if we step back for a moment instead, and wait to see what happens? In Australia, native creatures are learning how to cope with Cane toads, for example, and the species is beginning to fit in. I think that is very hopeful news. Of course, the wider community also has to help. Rivers need room to meander, creating shifting wetland habitats. Nature evolves and our understanding needs to evolve along with it. Trust nature’s wild unfolding and learn to flow along.
I’ll leave you with a cool mushroom I came across at the bog this weekend…
Pretty neat, huh?