Friday, February 20, 2015

Dreaming of Payne's Prairie

Along the LaChua Trail, Payne's Prairie
One of my BFFs, Trace, moved down to north-central Florida a few years ago. I've been down to visit her twice. Now, as I mentioned in my last post- I love the cold and snow. I love the north. I've never had ANY desire to visit the Southern States or heck anything south of Mason-Dixon. Some people hear the word "Florida" and get all dreamy-oggley-eyed. Nope, not me.

Then I visited Payne's Prairie State Park, just outside the city of Gainesville.

Trace brought me and my friend Bridget to hike the La Chua Trail portion of Payne's Prairie on both of our Florida trips and I kind of, yeah, fell in love with it. I've never seen so many wild animals in one place before. It was like the Serengeti in the United States. Alligators. Herons. Bison. Cranes. Snakes. Ibis. Egrets. I've even heard there are wild horses and pigs, but never got to see those (maybe next time...).

A few weeks ago I decided to finally start drawing some of the amazing animals I saw on my hikes along the LaChua Trail. Colored pencil has become such a vibrant and amazing medium for me. Drawing on black paper is like- drawing line and shape out of nothingness. It's hard to explain. It's an electrifying feeling.

Little Wader- 8x8 colored pencil on black paper

One of my favorite birds along LaChua were the fat Common Moorhens. With their flashy red beaks and HUGE yellow feet, they waded through the edges of the Alachua Sink looking for treats among the water plants. They look like crosses between a sea gull, duck, and really obese chicken. I wish we had them up here! I do see Coots sometimes, which are a relative of the Moorhen, but not as colorful.

Three Sandill Cranes- 51/2 x 10 colored pencil on black paper

I saw Sandhill Cranes on my first trip to Payne's Prairie back in 2011. They are HUGE, elegant birds and make the craziest honks. They were scattered throughout the scrub brush using their long beaks to dig into the soil - dozens and dozens of them- grays and whites with bright vermillion caps, stalking against the browns of winter. And, of course, Florida has the bluest of skies. Day after day after day. We don't see that up in New York! I had originally sketched the birds out against the landscape, but decided to erase it all and focus on some close-ups.

I can't wait to work on more drawings from my Florida visits!

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