"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Leaf of the Day: The Curious Ear Tree Pod

The magnificent Guanacaste tree is the symbol of Costa Rica where spent I two extremely wet but interesting months a couple of years ago. They are huge stately trees which grow in the province of Guanacaste where they cast wide and welcome shade for the cattle in the rich pasture lands which border the Pacific coast. The botanic name is enterolobium cyclocarpum and the name Guanacaste is from a Spanish translation of a local Indian word "cauhnacaztli" meaning "place of the ear tree”.

Guanacaste Tree and Seeds










The pods, as you can see, are beautifully curled like ears and when dry, rattle nicely with the dry seeds inside. They are tough and dark brown and the seeds are very hard, like little stones. I can't imagine how they ever manage to germinate. I would have thought a steam roller would be necessary to crack the outer casing. There seems to be some idea that the natural browsers of these pods have died out.
The 3 local trees are quite small and the seeds I have are smaller and not so pretty as the big Guanacaste seeds above, that are used for jewellery in Central and South America. Waynes Word site on all things botanical had an excellent page on botanical jewellery here

My drawing today is just a pencil study and some sketches of the ear pod. (The line under the pod is the top of my sketchbook..I balance small things there while I am drawing them as I did the tea seed pod)












As a postscript, I am sure the flags will be at half mast today at the Magic Kingdom here, marking the death of Ollie Johnston, last of the Nine Old Men from the heyday of Disney animation. He worked as an animation director on those beautiful early films (Bambi, Fantasia, Pinocchio and Snow White) where the animation is superb, and the mixture of supreme drawing skills and sensitive characterisation brought us endearing and wholly believable speaking animals. According to the obituaries one of Ollie Johnston' s key contributions was his skill in transferring the warmth and subtleties of human emotion to the characters.
Disney artists' drawings are always wonderful, here is a lovely sheet of concept drawings for one of the hares in Bambi. They are such good examples of observation and the understanding of form and how the simplest change of a line can effect the expression on a face, human or animal. I will be returning to these inspirational artists soon.
















This and much more from the website, Animation Archive here

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Ear Tree Pod


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