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Botanical Art Worldwide: America's Flora

The Longleaf Pine Revisited and Revered

Pinus palustris

Since moving to Alabama I continue to relish and revere the Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and the ecosystem that it so beautifully supports and sustains across most of the southern United States.

It is such a wonderfully elegant and iconic feature of the southern landscape. To have been able, over the last two or so years, to study and observe by drawing, painting the seasonal transitions of the many aspects of the Longleaf universe has been a constant and continuing joy.

As a technique, I find creating a chronological study board of the life cycle of a plant that

I’m planning to eventually present as a final study exceedingly helpful. And the study board that I completed earlier on the Longleaf Pine was no exception (please see the “Long leaf Pine Study Board “ that is featured in the “Out of the Woods Exhibition,” sponsored by the New York Botanical Garden and the American Society of Botanical Artists). For ideally, I like to discipline myself to take, minimally, one complete growing season to study, in-the-field, in-situ, the plant in question. (I do not, under any circumstances work from photographs).

While the time involved in this level of effort can be considerable (just getting to a specific plant can sometimes take hours), my experience tells me that it can be enormously rewarding. For not only is it a chance to study the intricacies of a plant in the field, but an opportunity to explore a different medium, experiment with certain effects or try an executional technique as you document the plant. I carry the study board into the field with a foam-core backing in a Clearbag for protection. However, it is almost certain that some little insect (sometimes several) will wrestle its way into the composition and leave its mark. My style generally is to document the chronology with a combination of a fairly loose and a very fine, tightly controlled detail to carry the narrative of the plant. Over and above all this is the satisfaction of being in the field and observing the plant in its habit. The way the wind catches the leaves, and the petals that shape its form. The way in which the pollinators interact with the plant - it all goes into a greater understanding of the subject. Adding depth and dimension to the final outcome - the finished botanical drawing or painting.

The result, in this case, is the final painting of the “Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) - Revisited and Revered.” It is a painting based on my earlier study board. You’ll notice, however, that the design of the elements has been modified somewhat to create, hopefully, a more harmonious design, and to give a fuller picture of the story to be told. While the basic elements within the design remain, I nevertheless continue to return to the field to ensure the accuracy of the work that has been created.

All the elements that comprise the painting you observe were completed and executed in the Longleaf Forest, Knoll Park, Fairhope, the Longleaf Forest at the Mobile Botanical Gardens, Mobile and at Splinter Hill Bog, Perdido, Alabama, and in my studio in Daphne, Alabama.


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Read more about this artist’s work: Out of the Woods

Worldwide-Norman Longleaf Pine-Revisited Revered

Pinus palustris

The Longleaf Pine Revisited and Revered

Watercolor, colored pencil and graphite on paper

21 x 29

©2017 Derek Norman

2024 ASBA - All rights reserved

All artwork copyrighted by the artist. Copying, saving, reposting, or republishing of artwork prohibited without express permission of the artist.

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