Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sketching at Fakahatchee

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park again as part of the En Plein Air event for April. This trip, we visited a disused remnant of Old U.S. 41 (also known as the Tamiami Trail), just north of the newer road. The remnant of road borders a canal and looks out over a marsh prairie habitat. As we traveled down the old road, a swallow-tailed kite swooped overhead, diving low enough for me to glimpse bright eyes and feather details.

We stopped at an old concrete bridge where the vista opened up. This part of the park has a different feeling from the cypress strands I visited before; the sky seems to extend infinitely above a vast expanse of grasses. It was a sunny day, and warm, with a breeze that kept the mosquitoes and some of the deerflies away.

Two of us settled down to draw and paint our surroundings, after our Park Ranger guide showed us some potential spots. Our choices included a buttonwood forest at the end of the road, an open canal lined with cattails, a variety of roadside shrubs and trees, and the prairie marsh. Our guide joined us to sketch after conducting more participants to our location. One of them included a flautist, and we enjoyed her music as it mingled with the wind rustling the grasses and dry palm fronds. What a wonderful experience!

Our explorations yielded some interesting discoveries: an empty Florida apple snail shell, black vulture feathers scattered along the roadside, a water snake shedding its skin, and a wooden framework under the concrete bridge, which may have been the original structure. We saw green buttonwoods, wax myrtles, red mangroves, airplants (Tillandsia utriculata), a snowy egret, great blue heron, turkey and black vultures, and a raccoon ambling across the mud flats under the cattails.

It was a beautiful day, and a happy accident that our planned plein air sketching coincided with the 31st Worldwide SketchCrawl. If you’d like to see photos from the past art events at Fakahatchee, please click on the events tab just under the top banner. A warm thank you to everyone who joined us!

You can click on the caption of the top image to view it on my Flickr photostream.