It is always gratifying when you feel that you have grown or learned something new. For me, our time in Florida has forced me to look carefully at palm trees and to appreciate their gracefulness and beauty. Perhaps because I am a northeast born and raised woman who was not familiar the South, I never liked paintings with palm trees, especially when those trees were situated on a beach and silhouetted against garish sunsets or sunrises. They always appeared phony, over-colored and cliche, painted assembly line-like.
Last winter and this, we rented a place for two months right on the ocean in Fort Pierce, Florida, the Sunrise City. The streets are lined with different palms and there are palms in my view from our terrace. I joined a plein air group and everywhere we went, palm tree fronds were blowing gently in the wind. I had no choice. I had to paint them. I didn't want to rely on the stylized version of a palm tree. The one, as a child, I painted with palm branches radiating from the center, usually with coconuts, like a wheel. So I forced myself to really look at them. The more I looked, the more I grew to appreciate how they looked-on sunny, calm or breezy days, on stormy days with the wind whipping the branches, on the shores of the Indian River, or the city streets, casting graceful shadows on buildings.
Next year we will be back and I will be observing and learning more about these trees. As for those "garish" sunrises and sunsets, "they're real and they're spectacular."