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

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Leaf of the Day: Triumphant Nature, Ruins and some Plein Air painters.

There has been quite a lot of dominion over nature taking place here in the apartment complex this week. There has been much lopping and hacking, trimming and tidying , grinding and chipping. The tree tidiers, who are in constant work here, come in the shape of burly men, hydraulic lifts, an armoury of power saws and a chipping machine. The elegantly drooping palms have been trimmed to leave only a cheery top knot of leaves. Over enthusiastic shrubs have been chopped down and chipped and creepers stopped in their tracks. Phew... man has regained control of this unruly bit of Winter Park..it was a close shave.
Just keeping nature at bay here is a full time and noisy occupation. A particularly miserable job I think is the be in charge of the leaf blowing machine. In 90 degree temperatures it can be no fun to carry a heavy, noisy and hot machine on your back and trudge the streets chasing leaves. But it has to be done, we can't have leaves choking up the drains, or creepers taking over pylons or tree roots splitting the pavements.



I recently saw some of the fascinating "Life after People" from the History Channel. It's a film about what would happen if Man was to suddenly disappear. As you would imagine, it's not long before nature begins to take over. Especially engaging is the fate of the skyscrapers which having eventually lost their glass become lattice of concrete engulfed by creepers and altitude loving plants. These new elevated ecosystems are full of birds and small rodents, ruled, of course by the great survivors, cats. Cats, who never really needing to come down from their high rise domains might, according to the particularly enthusiastic scientist, develop gliding techniques to get around, not unlike flying foxes. It's a wonderful image.
National Geographic have a similar film"Aftermath, Population Zero". You can go to the website for an interactive overview here. The films have mixed reviews but are worth a watch.

There is something that draws us to a ruin, isn't there, something about those qualities of impermanence and transience, all closely associated with melancholy and much loved by the Romantics.
Fragments of past events and lives can induce a contemplative state of mind, contemplative of our insignificance perhaps. It all reminds me of the great atmospheric etchings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi


Temple of Hercules, at Cori 1769


Arch of Titus 1748,...there must be some cats in there somewhere..

or Caspar David Friedrich's sombre paintings, like The Dreamer here.



I have to admit that I have thought some Florida landscapes can be like these. Just too artificially melancholy for my taste. A sunset painting of ancient moss draped trees with a solitary egret contemplating its reflection the black waters of a swamp does nothing much for me.

But today we did go and see a nice small exhibition at the City Hall Gallery Orlando. I quote from their publicity
“Far and Near Horizons” is an international art exhibit organized by two of the world’s foremost contemporary Landscape Painting groups – Landscape Artists International (LAI) and International Plein Air Painters (IPAP). IPAP members specialize in landscape paintings done entirely en plein air (outside), while LAI members paint landscapes in both plein air and studio settings. While the outlooks and temperaments are slightly different, the commonality of all the artists involved is a passion for painting nature’s landscape. It is a unique gathering of plein air and landscape artists using different painting mediums and representing five countries."
Their concerns for the landscape mirror David Attenborough's from yesterday's post.
Michael Chesley Johnson, past Director;
"Thankful for its inspiration, we are eager to see that it gets taken care of. And the best way to see that it gets taken care of is to put it on display for the entire world to see. Our hope is that our paintings will encourage others to become stewards of the land – just as we have become its promoters.”
There were not too many solitary egrets but some very accomplished and painterly works. To dispel any gloom that may have settled, here is a lovely bright pastel by Linda Richichi entitled Wetlands. This particular piece was not in the show but there were others, you can see more of her paintings here.




No time for a drawing today..it's Saturday...

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