24" x 24"
Florida, United States
The “fireworks” in the title refer to bromeliads, which are bursting out of the sides of these Cypress trees. Bromeliads are in the same family of plants as the pineapples we buy at the grocery store. The leaves of pineapples are usually green when we buy them. The leaves of these tiny bromeliads were also green in summer, but in the fall they turn various colors and become translucent. The backlighted sun in this scene lights them up like fireworks. I suspect that there are several species in this scene. Although I don’t know which species they are, they surely belong to the Tillandsia family.
In addition to the lively bromeliads the dark trunks of the trees provided a dramatic canvas on which Lichens of many shades were splattered. On first glance all of the Lichens may look pale grey but try looking from one trunk to another and back again, rapidly. This old painter’s trick makes the differences pop out. Although all of the lichens were shades of pale grey—none of the brilliant red colors that I painted in a scene ten years ago (called “Painted Posts”)—the differences in their colors were exaggerated against the dark bark. Some were tinted with turquoise, others with blue, and still others with green.
Not only do lichens provide interesting colors, they also add texture. They are ideal subjects for knife painters. Some of them are like shingles; others like rope; and still others more like paint. I painted the trunks first and then, when they had dried, I patted, streaked and ran my knife over the dry paint to create all of these shapes. By the way, Lichens are a fascinating life form. They are not plants. They are a composite organism formed by algae or cyanobacteria and a fungus living in a mutually beneficial relationship.
The shapes of the trees also added to the interest to this composition. These are not the massive Bald Cypress trees (Taxodium Distichum) that are as straight as telephone poles. These are Pond Cypress trees (Taxodium ascendens), a curvaceous relative of the Bald Cypress.