River Oaks Park shows as a curved sliver of green on the map, not far from our home on Jacksonville's south side, set along a dirty, neglected creek where it empties into the mighty St. John's River. Grand homes claim most of the land area along and near the prized riverfront, but this one small stretch of scrubby wild land has been saved from development. Perhaps it remains partly because it is anything but premium building land, with lots of squishy low spots along a muddy creek.
Since we were alone in the park, Maggie could be off leash and was in doggie heaven, tearing around on the large grassy area, sniffing interesting smelly, dank low spots, and cocking her head to discern individuals in the symphony of bird songs and calls. Although there was heavy overcast, the light was a bit too intense for ideal photography but I couldn't resist snapping away. The park is no garden spot, but is instead exactly the sort of unlikely place I discover interesting painting subjects. There were several old live oak trees on the drier grassy stretch, while the skeletons of dead cypress and many fallen trees and branches created tangled sculptures on the creek banks. Dark, still water perfectly reflected each scene in the clear light of an overcast winter day.
Can't say yet what I might paint from this outing, if anything. Even so, recalling the park's sights, sounds, and smells provides painting inspiration and these sensations will sink into my subconscious to percolate and bubble up in unexpected creative insights sometime in the future. I look forward to returning to this quirky little park some sunny late afternoon for a different perspective on the scene. Although the light was bright yesterday, the pervasive overcast created no shadows at all, and I missed them. The character-filled trees I photographed seemed to be lacking something without long shadows to attest to their dignity.
Question of the day: What unexpected source provides creative inspiration for you?