Monday, November 12, 2012

The Efficient Complexity of Nature

American Moss at Floracliff
On a very warm Saturday in November, I partook in the Long Hike at Floracliff. We climbed and strolled over 4 to 5 miles within the nature sanctuary. While striding over the terrain, I felt like a giant because of all the ecosystems beneath my feet, a feeling I have become sensitive to because of a richly informative book: The Forest Unseen, by David George Haskell.  Haskell is a professor of biology at the University of the South. He spent a year closely studying a square meter of earth in the forest surrounding Sewanee. The scene, though minute is mind-bogglingly complex. It is an insect-eat-everything world! The birds are eating the insects. Who eats whom might determine how far you can travel as a species. Moss has peculiar qualities that allow it to survive deluge and drought. Throughout, there is an enthralling description of light. Fortunately, Professor Haskell breaks it all down into manageable bites, with timely consideration throughout his year of observation. I am only up to September 23rd--Vulture, the book begins January 1st. This is a remarkable story of how everything is interconnected and in a fairly efficient, often surprising way. The author's perceptive abilities are simply amazing. I highly recommend this book.

         I was reflecting on this elaborate tapestry of flora and fauna. It made me realize why I enjoy layering media to make paintings. It is sympathetic to the layers of life that make up the forest. The natural properties of watercolor pigments interacting with the paper create a rich underpinning that is hard to create deliberately. The pastel on top has a complementary role, skimming the surface, deepening the texture. No wonder my landscape painting took off after I began to combine watercolor and pastel in my painting. Perhaps you would like to give it a go. I will be starting a new Experimenting with Watercolor and Pastel class early in 2013. Stay tuned!

The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature, by David George Haskell, Penguin Group,  2012

Grounded, watercolor/pastel
Lichen is one of the first subjects of The Forest Unseen
For information about my upcoming watercolor and pastel classes and information about happenings at the M S Rezny Studio/Gallery:   and

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