Strap Ferns on the Corkscrew River (sold) | Richard G. Tiberius

Strap Ferns on the Corkscrew River (sold)  |  Richard G. Tiberius

48 x 34 in | 121.9 x 86.4 cm

The meandering Corkscrew River is the life blood of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a protected habitat for a stand of ancient Bald Cypress.  Its visual complexity has inspired a number of my paintings.  There is so much plant life in this forest that almost everywhere you look you can find sufficient variation in foliage and color range to make an exciting composition.

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Clearly the central feature of this painting is the Long Strap Fern (Campyloneurum phyllitidis).  A magnificent specimen dominates the center of the painting.  It has earned its place in the name of the painting. These epiphytic ferns take root on and grow on top of other plants.  They are not parasites; they take nothing from the plant but a boost into higher elevations and more sunlight.  I enjoyed making the scalloped leaves with my painting knife by twisting little blobs of white into each curve of the edges.  The texture of these edges creates an undulating effect as you walk past the painting.

Adding to the visual feast are the ferns and bromeliads hanging from every place that provides a foothold.  On both sides of the foreground the large leaves of Alligator Flag (Thalia geniculata) frame the painting.  They are called Alligator Flag (Thalia geniculata) because the waving of the tall flower stalks may indicate a moving alligator hidden in the leaves below.  Their fading leaves lend shades of ochre and orange to a scene that is dominated by green.

Even the cypress trees themselves add to the complexity.  These are not the giant Bald Cypresses (Taxodium distichum), which stand tall and straight like pillars.  These are Pond Cypress (Taxodium ascendens), a closely related but smaller species that, in contrast to the Bald Cypress, lean and twist unpredictably. 

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