Painting The Allapattah Flats

July 24, 2017

A friend introduced me to this location. Allapattah. We took a drive a few months ago and ended up taking a walk through time. The reason I went with my camera was to preserve the beauty the spring brings to Old Florida country. I knew then that I'd want to come back to paint the herds of cracker cattle that roam free.


"A drive across the Martin Grade is a drive through the beauty of Old Florida – through land that time seems to have forgotten.   To the east lie barrier islands, rich lagoons, and flowing rivers that characterize Florida’s Atlantic Coast.  To the west lies Lake Okeechobee, the second largest fresh water lake in the United States.  In between, are the Allapattah Flats, remnants of the impenetrable sloughs and wet prairies that once made up the Alpatiokee Swamp in the northern Everglades."


"People who come to hunt or walk can hardly see where the swamp has healed the wounds it suffered by being drained in the 20th Century, because it was re-flooded during the Great Northern Everglades Restoration and has regenerated itself. Its new name, the Allapattah Flats, sounds close enough to the original Seminole word for alligator that they recognize it instantly as the Alpatiokee Swamp they dreaded crossing so fiercely."


Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, this land was a cattle highway for cowboys to move their herd from east to west. Before the railroad came to Fort Pierce, cattlemen drove their livestock to Punta Rassa on the west coast, loaded them on barges and shipped them to Cuba to feed to the soldiers.


As an artist, this is prime territory for me. Acres of nothing but an impressionist's dream. To the average person, this territory might just look like an open field, but to me its a lifetime of opportunities to play in Old Florida's history. 


What was most amazing to me was the fact that I was the only person there. Not a soul in sight for miles. So far I have two paintings that are coming from Allapattah. The first one is an unfinished large oil painting on linen. I took a break from that painting because school took over. But now I have the opportunity to go back and paint another scene and this time, I'm working with a single cow. The trick to painting out here is working with the ever changing skies and light movement. Also, the cattle are almost always in motion, with the exception of the lazy sleeping ones. 


I'm sure this will go down in my books as the perfect location to paint Old Florida. If you have to opportunity to go here and hike, please do so. Like many have already said, its like walking through time.



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