We were tired, hot, and almost out of water on the connector trail heading back to the car when I came across the little guy in my Boot Chaser piece. He was cool with his massive jaws. They are so big that he clumsily muddles around. I think I scared him because he stopped dead and stayed still long enough for me to compose a couple of images. But, it didn’t take long before some little ants, apparently not happy with his presence, started biting him and wouldn’t leave him alone. He tried to brush the ants off his back legs and even tried shaking to remove them, but, in the end, I think he got tired of being attacked and decided he was going to move along. I didn’t want him to go because I was hoping that the ants would give up and I’d be able to continue creating so I temporarily blocked his path with my boot. Which worked, but what was really strange was that he kept returning to it – even coming from as far as four feet away. If I moved my boot to the left (to give him an escape route), he’d come plodding over to the left exactly where my boot was. If I then moved to the right, he’d slog on over and return to my boot again. We played that game at least four times so I don’t think it was just a coincidence. Maybe he marked my boot with some kind of a scent or something so he’d know where he was. It was a neat encounter.
After working the area near the shelter where we had lunch, we hiked down a connector trail that leads to the Little Gap Trail. I discovered the bark in my Flakes composition on a side trail that leads down to the water. I was initially attracted to the bark by the abstract patterns, but the colors convinced me that I needed to find a way to fill a frame with them. I searched the surface until I found a section that piqued my artistic eye. My goal was to pull in as much color as possible with an interesting design while keeping as much of the rougher outer layer of bark out of the frame.
Near the end of June, we took an excursion up to Dreher Island State Park. We found an open shelter on Sweet Gum and claimed a spot. I did some scouting in the woods and along the shoreline before having a very good picnic lunch. After eating, I continued to explore near the water’s edge and came across some pine trees that had large areas of bark that had been stripped away (likely from a beaver). All of the images in this post are compositions featuring sap found on the trees in that area.
I loved the almost crystalline or icy look of the sap in my Fractured piece, but I was also attracted to the scene by the gorgeous colors underneath it. It felt quite abstract with the scratches, gashes, and gouges randomly scattered all across the surface. The most colorful areas reminded me of rock candy. My artistic approach was fairly simple; maximize the amount of surface breaks while pulling in the most color. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen (the tiny stress/compaction lines are amazing).
The area where my Orange Cracks composition came from had some great colors. I was immediately drawn to the lush oranges below the white, flaky coating. The difficulty was that the surface of the sap was littered with the corpses of all different types of bugs. They apparently got stuck in the sap and then, because they couldn’t break free, died on the surface. New sap continued to drip down and cover some of the bodies so that they became embedded. Searching for a section that had good color and was relatively clean (and free of bug bodies), was challenging. This perspective brought to mind some type of tasty, frozen or shaved ice, orange drink or perhaps broken pieces of hard candy.
I was excited to discover the two, big, active drips in my Sap Channel piece. The coating on either side of them reminded me of cracked and broken sheets of ice in a river that looked like they could be flowing downstream. Artistically, I preferred the frame in a position to where the channel ran across and down it diagonally. While not possible to recognize in a static capture, I was able to see the sap trickle down the furrow. The high level of detail allows surface textures and reflections off the sap to be seen.