26" x 33"
The phrase “river of grass,” so familiar to Everglades National Park visitors, was coined by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in her book “The Everglades: River of Grass”. Sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), in fact, grows out of a slow moving, shallow river that formerly covered the whole of south Florida. With its triangular stems, Sawgrass is actually not a grass but a sedge. The name is derived from its edges, which are serrated like the teeth of a saw. You can’t walk through it in short sleeves without sustaining numerous cuts. You can’t climb over it either. It grows to nine feet tall, dwarfing the Great Blue Heron in this painting, which is a little over four feet (about 120 cm) tall. Besides its vast expanse in the Everglades National Park, Sawgrass is also found in coastal areas north to Virginia and west to the Texas Gulf coast.
A huge diversity of birds, alligators and amphibians depend upon Sawgrass for nesting and food. Its energy rich nutlets at the ends of the flower spikes sustain migrating ducks and geese.
Painting Heron feathers with a painting knife was an enjoyable challenge. The wing feathers are soft and overlapping while the long breast and back feathers stand out individually. To achieve the soft, blended look of the wing feathers I patted the panel with the flat surface of the knife. The long feathers required a completely different technique. After wetting the background with a base of blue, I loaded the knife and, tilting it on the side, I pulled it over the base color in one continuous stroke, delivering an edge of paint that stuck out from the panel. When it dried I could actually pinch it with my fingernails.
The water lilies on the surface of the water are likely the Yellow Pond Lily (Nuphar luteum). Pond Lilies rest peacefully on the surface and have a slit separating the leaf into lobes. The round leaves, without a slit, held above the water by a thick stem probably belong to the Yellow Lotus (Nelumbo lutea). Any fish reckless enough to venture out from the cover of these leaves, will surely be detected by the vigilant eyes of the motionless Heron above them.