Unlike Little St. Simon’s older maritime live oak forest, where moisture-trapping leaf litter suppresses fires, in the slash pine forest a carpet of resinous needles readily conveys lightning fires as well as human-caused fires along the forest floor. The trees themselves are protected from the flames by their thick bark. Over the decades and centuries, this results in an open, pine-dominated character that gives these woods their ecological and aesthetic identity.
A unique part of that identity is the structural variety of the stand. It doesn’t have the unified verticality of younger, even-aged pine stands. Hurricanes are part of the reason for that, but so are the growth patterns that can only be observed in an uneven-aged, old-growth forest. Following storms, floods, and fires of long ago, dense patches of pines would come up in affected areas. Trees on the edges of these cohorts would lean away from the center to reach more light. After a century or two, only a few trees from various cohorts might remain, sometimes leaning at odd angles to each other. (see an example in a longleaf pine forest)
I had this in mind in May 2014 as I searched for compositions with my camera so that later in the studio, I could convey those features as well as the sensation of being in such a gorgeous place. Slash Pine Forest now hangs in LSSI’s River House, room 2.
The view in the painting is near Dune Trail, about 120 yards from Beach Road. (Google Maps: 31.249380, -81.298620)
February 20 - May 22, 2016
Morris Museum of Art
July 9 - September 11, 2016
Marietta Cobb Museum of Art
The Lodge at Little St. Simons Island
Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
Published in conjunction with Philip’s 2016 exhibition at the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia, and the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta, Georgia. Contributors include: Philip Juras, essay and artwork; Wendy Paulson, foreword; Kevin Grogan, introduction; Dorinda Dallmeyer, essay; and Janice Simon, essay. Published by the University of Georgia Press, 2016.