Sunday, March 18, 2012

March sketching in Fakahatchee


Saturday we enjoyed another plein air sketching and painting day at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.  We met at the Harmon industrial building on Janes Scenic Drive so we could have a combination of natural and man-made subjects to draw or paint.

The metal-sided structure is a remnant of the days when the Harmon family leased the rights to quarry rock and fill from the area.  Several of the nearby lakes are a result of the quarrying process; most of the land in Florida is underlain by limestone bedrock, which is excavated and used for gravel roads and cement.  According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website, our state is fifth in the United States for industrial mineral production. 

Across the street, one of our group discovered a blooming terrestrial orchid, Bletia purpurea, also known as pine pink.  It was growing on the side of the road, in full sun and in what looked to be sand and gravel.  What a tough but beautiful plant.  I sat down next to Sue, author of the blog “Journeys with Sue.” It was a pleasure to meet her in person after getting to know her online! 

(Click on image to view larger)

After lunch, I moved to another location behind the building to sketch a gumbo limbo tree.  I love the papery copper-colored trunks of this tree.  Under the papery covering, the trunk is smooth, with traces of green along with the copper.  This time of year the foliage is yellow green against a warm blue sky. 

Nearby, other artists worked with different subjects in different media.  Beth painted in oils, while Diane and Karen worked in pencil.  Sue and I used ink and watercolor, and Kerri painted a watercolor portrait of a striking oak laden with airplants.  In the distance, we heard the melodic calls of red-winged blackbirds as they darted through the cattails. 

Other wildlife noted were a trio of red bellied woodpeckers, warblers, swallow-tailed kites, a group of black vultures, a great blue heron, and a green anole nibbling at the base of a blooming tillandsia growing near the park offices.  Karen, our park ranger, speculated that it was either sipping nectar or eating tiny insects (ants or aphids) that are attracted to these airplants. 

On the drive back to Naples, I noticed several great white egrets and a wood stork along the canals that parallel the Tamiami Trail.  Overhead, the kingfishers kept sentry duty atop the power lines that run along the road.  All in all, a wonderful day – sketching in plein air in one of our beautiful parks, with good friends and pleasant weather.   Click over to the Events tab to see a slideshow of images for that day.   Thank to everyone who came out!

Sketches were done in my:
Nature Sketch sketchbook by Pentalic
6x12 in, (15.24x30.48 cm),
Black Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen S and XS,
Daniel Smith watercolors.


  1. Sounds like a beautiful day to be outdoors. I love the page with the tree and leaves. Gorgeous.

  2. Thanks so much, Kathy! It was a lovely day, especially as we got to sit in the shade in the afternoon! :)