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22" x 19.5"


Bromeliads in January oil painting by Richard Tiberius

Click the thumbnails on the left to see a section of the painting in greater detail.



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Twelve species of air plants, or Bromeliads, can be seen from the boardwalks that wind their way through the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida. At least that’s what was written in their field guide. I don’t know enough about Bromeliads to tell them apart.

The ranger told us that summers can be unpleasantly humid, hot, and plagued with mosquitoes. But on this chilly day in January, late in the afternoon, it was delightful. We were wearing jackets. It was a painless way to see swamp plants and wading birds, but I was feeling guilty about looking for the penny in the light. If I wanted to see Bromeliads in flower I should have visited in June, mosquitoes or not. Then, just as I was thinking about the poor trade I had made of beauty for comfort the boardwalk turned a sharp corner and the Bromeliads were back lighted by the afternoon sun. I did not know that their leaves turned color in the fall. Perhaps in true tropical climates they don’t turn color, but in January in Naples, Florida, it was chilly enough for the swamp maples to turn red, so why not Bromeliads? Backlighting creates one of my favorite effects, especially in the fall when the leaves are thin and translucent. What an extraordinary range of color!

In addition, without the usual heavy moisture in the air, the shadows were dark and dark shadows bring out the electric blues and greens of the lichen, a perfect contrast to offset the warm tones of the Bromeliads.

I don’t know the name of the species. I know that they were small enough to fit into a soup bowl. I'm not even sure about the names of the trees that they were clinging to, although they were probably Pond Apples (Annona glabra). The next time I visit Corkscrew I’m going to find out.

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