Pond Cypress with Welcome Splash (sold) | Richard G. Tiberius

Pond Cypress with Welcome Splash (sold)  |  Richard G. Tiberius

30 x 37.5 in | 76.2 x 95.3 cm

I asked the guide who was leading our group through waist high water in the Everglades, why there were so few mosquitoes. He said that the Mosquito Fish (Gambusia affinis) was responsible. A little fish, about the size of a minnow, picks mosquito larvae from the top of the water, which it does in great number. One fish can eat up to 500 mosquito larvae a day! You can’t see the little helper in this painting but you can see a circular ripple where one of them had just plucked a larva from the surface. With no mosquitoes to distract us, we could enjoy the flora. The Pond Cypresses (Taxodium ascendens) were covered with bromeliads, of several different varieties. None were in flower at the time but the translucent leaves glowed with various colors when the sun hit them from behind.

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There were many kinds of ferns. They hung from the trees and arched up from the water and old stumps. Capturing the delicate structure of the ferns was challenging. I held four painting knives in my left hand at the same time, splayed out like a fan. One knife was for the almost white shine on the top of a fern where the sun bounces off of it. Another held dark green paint for the shadow. A third made the soft green of indirect light and the final knife held the brilliant yellow green of back lighted fronds. I kept rotating knives as I made each fern.

Trying to identify them was fun and also helpful in appreciating subtle differences in their structure. Some fronds taper at the tip while others taper at both the base and the tip. Some have leaflets that are separate; others are close together and still others overlap, just to name a few ways in which they differ. The one with the long, thin green straps growing out of the tree on the right is a Strap Fern (Campyloneurum phyllitidis) and the one cutting across the center of the painting is likely the Giant Sword Fern (Nephrolepis biserrata) because the Frond tapers only at the tip not the base.

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