Friday, October 28, 2011

Burnscapes - Man vs Nature

"Burnscape #4 (Charred Pine Stand)"

"Burnscape #8 (Charred Cactus)"

"Burnscape #4 (Charred Pine Stand)"
watercolor on paper, 2011
6" x 8" (15.24cm x 20.32cm)

"Burnscape #8 (Charred Cactus)"
watercolor, Pelikan india ink on paper, 2011
6" x 8" (15.24cm x 20.32cm)

Here are two recent watercolor/mixed media's from my Burnscape series. Both were at my solo show at the Randy Higbee Gallery. See previous posts.

Living in Southern California and seeing so many wildfires it would be easy to focus on the destruction. My attraction for the burned landscape isn't for its destruction... but instead how it modifies the landscape, turning it into a charcoal terrain... it is rebirth, the way Mother Nature intended.
It is how She manages her jurisdiction, by controlling dense undergrowth. We usually get in the way.
Man has traditionally prevented fires, the growth becoming so thick that when fire does occur it is devastating. Another topic on the Man vs Nature theme.

Top - #4 Trees are meant to survive fires where brush is low to the ground, the fire sweeping through too quickly (and frequently enough) to wipe them out. This pine stand didn't look like it would survive so to accentuate this I set its blackened silhouette against a background of unburned green.

Bottom - #8 As fire sweeps through dry brush, here... all that's left of a thicket, sometimes all that is left behind is high water content vegetation like cactus. What caught my attention was how the left side of the cactus clump seemed to have leaned away from the fire.137,138

Click on image for larger view


  1. as always your paintings make one look closer, checking out what pulled you to something that the rest of us might have passed by or looked at with sadness for the loss of the unburnt version: atmospheric, almost abstract...

  2. Hi Rahina,
    Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts.
    The sadness is still there (especially when homes are lost), I just choose to focus on fire as one step in a constant unending process.
    Hope your new painting direction is going well.

  3. I love these two. They express a lot of emotion. We were in So CA in August and I couldn't help but think how fast a fire would travel there. Something we don't much worry about in Maine, especially in this wet year.

  4. Thank you Stephanie,
    I always value other artists comments since you well know our struggles at times.
    And your'e right, fires here turn into firestorms... literally... they can create their own winds.

    ... especially when chaparral thickets get into the mix, highly flammable!

    That is our fall, warm Santa Ana Winds fan the fires, ash instead of snow. I refer to them as California fall/winterscapes.

    Our fall leaves turn color, bright yellow and orange, briefly...

    ... when they catch fire!

    Click 'Burnscape' label to see others here

    Hope you don't mind the science and meteorology lesson.