One of the best reasons to paddle a canoe is that you gain a wonderful new perspective on your surroundings. Ever since Dr. Tom Kazo and I founded Wildlife Research Team in 1993, I’ve been able to take thousands of photographs from what we call our “Canoe View” of the waterways and shorelines we’ve explored. (You can see some of these at www.wildlife-research-team.org.)
The Loxahatchee River, located on on the lower east coast of Florida, was designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1985, one of only two in Florida. (The other is the Myakka on the west coast, which I’ve also paddled and painted.) It’s a river with a rich and colorful history; to read more about the Loxahatchee River, please visit websites such as http://www.loxahatcheeriver.org/about_the_river.php.
Although the “Lox” as it is known to its many friends, starts out as a freshwater river, it becomes more saline as it nears the Atlantic Ocean. There was a time when it was fresh for most of its route, but as rampant development occurred in the area, more and more fresh water was diverted to public use, with golf courses and lawns sucking up enormous amounts. Therefore, the river is becoming more and more brackish and salty further and further inland.
In my little painting of an osprey nest built into a dead tree, there’s a backstory. Once upon a time, these dead snags were healthy cypress trees. The mangrove trees below were less likely to have encroached this far inland. Mangroves do not require saltwater to live, but they are not able to compete with freshwater trees. So, although spotting an osprey in its nest is always a joyous sight, the realization that development is slowly but surely killing large and beautiful cypress trees is a sobering thought.
An osprey peers from its nest, built into a snag that was once a magnificent bald cypress tree on the Loxahatchee River shoreline. Now mangroves flourish in a saltier environment than the cypresses can endure.
However, at least the osprey has been making a strong comeback since the EPA outlawed the use of DDT in 1972. The pesticide found its way into the osprey’s main food supply, fish. As the DDT accumulated in the bird’s system, its eggshells became more and more fragile, so that they were crushed by the parent’s weight. Spotting an osprey nest, especially when it’s inhabited as this one was, is a cause for celebration. I love seeing an osprey dive into the water and come up with a fish! (Although of course I feel sorry for the fish…but nature is what it is…)
Below is a photograph of this 5″ by 7″ pastel in a typical tabletop frame, to give you an idea of how it could look in your personal environment. I’ve removed the glass from the frame for the purposes of this photograph. Pastel, otherwise a superb type of paint because of its resistance to fading, is susceptible to smearing until glazing is placed over it.
"Osprey Nest Along the Loxahatchee River" is 5" by 7" framed out to 8" by 10" and is an original pastel painting on black paper.
This pastel was painted on the rough-textured black paper. I am getting ready to try out a smoother paper. Although I like the effect of the rougher paper, I am looking forward to being able to punch in more detail with the smoother paper.
This painting will soon be listed in my Etsy store, http://etsy.com/shop/donnakazo.
Thanks for visiting today, and keep checking back for my next artistic adventure!