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Natures Survivantes

Rather lousy attempts at capturing the variety of sights. What you have to realize is that the plants that manage to stay green let alone live, are real fighters, given the arid climate. There are, however islands of greenery corresponding to assiduously watered little patches of terra used as flower beds or little gardens, where entire ecosystems, teeming with life, develop. Nature is amazing!



I took a picture from underneath a citrus tree in the "jarda" looking at the sun, somewhere in early march 2011. The leaves were translucent, traversed by the sunlight. Unfortunately, the citrus tree was subsequently killed by excessive/maniacal pruning ;-)



Our house is a traditional "dar arbi", with an architecture similar to Spanish haciendas: a closed court in the middle, with an open sky, surrounded by rooms/living quarters. In old towns in big cities, the courtyards tend to be smallish and the ambiance perhaps claustrophobic. Our house is in provincial town, and the inner courtyard is close to 10 m by 15 m, with an elevated "garden" that we call "jarda". This is a view of the southeast corner (late afternoon) from the northwestern corner of "jarda".
It didn't start out this way. I had meant to draw the floor of the "jarda", which is earthen, but it came out weird. Thus, I made it with a full flower cover.



Always amused by the 'islands of life' that can develop in the smallest parts, with their fauna and flora, where the former appropriate the latter like it had been there for them from the beginning.



Having spent the full year, I got the chance to witness the four seasons, with the agricultural activities that pertain to each season. Hence, the olive harvest. Olive trees are incredibly resilient creatures that can live on 200 - 250 mm of rain per year, and yield a good harvest, depending on the timing of the rain. The leaves are narrow, somewhat think, with a hard gelatinous "skin", and you suspect that not much water evaporates through them, which comes in handy. Olive trees grow in most parts of coastal (or near coastal) Tunisia, in regions ranging in yearly rainfall from 600 - 700 mm, to 150 - 200 mm. The trees look a bit different, depending on rainfall, and they are spaced further apart in the more arid parts.



In Tunisia, it does not rain often, and rain storms are often brief and violent, and the weather often clears soon after a storm. Thus, you get a study in contrasts just after. storm. This shows such a scene after a late afternoon storm. There is still twilight in the distant sky, but it is getting dark and street lights are already on. This was based on a picture taken at a highway rest stop. The more regular grey mass represents a mountain; the other corresponds to the cloud front moving pushed by strong high winds.



We will call it "sea set", as a combination of sea and sunset. When I go jogging on the pier at Berges du Lac 2, I get an unobstructed view on Tunis's southern suburbs. You can sometimes see "Jbel Bouguarnine", in a haze of smog, but it is beautiful nonetheless. Traditional Tunisian scenery does not inspire me much, because: 1) it is overused / exposed, and 2) it often reflects how foreigners used to  see Tunisia at the turn, and the first half, of the 20th century. I was mostly playing with colour and water reflections. But the painting has two errors: 1) one of perspective, concerning the left most boat, and 2) one of colour, as the rightmost boat is too dark/crisp, given its distance; its colour should have been less sharp. 



Another late afternoon storm. The sun has risen again (behind the observer), but the storm clouds ate still moving. The light is incredible in such instances. This watercolour does not come close to conveying the warmth of the light.



This was mostly a play with colour. The previous painting had a grey sky and a yellow ground, and if I were better at it, I would have managed to make it feel real. This one was the flip side: t see if I can make it feel right (not look plaudible but feel right). Not much imagination or artistry in the scene

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