This was my first experiment with converting a photo-montage into oil paints. It's meant to represent an island that is also a volcanic cone, fractured into three parts, desert-like on the outside and lush and green on the inside. The crater glimpsed in the lefthand portion thus continues (and "widens") in the central portion, where the surrounding mist and sky are suggested at the top and left. In the right-most portion, the crater has shifted off the canvas.
The idea is that, from the outside of the cone, there's no hint of the dramatically different environment of the interior. The inside, however, is a separate, sheltered world, with only the sky visible beyond. I mentioned earlier my fascination with miniature volcanoes as recognizably "humanized" versions of typically much larger landforms. But, I'm also entranced by the experience of being inside little craters, because like islands they exclude perception of everything beyond.
Ecologically, this scenario in a sense the inverse of Ngorongoro Crater (mentioned in the last post), but unlike the works I've talked about previously, this one isn't meant to represent a moisture gradient caused by elevation change. I can't think of an actual weather pattern that would bring so much moisture to the crater while leaving the rim and outer slopes arid. (The closest situation I'm aware of is The Quill on St. Eustatius in the Netherlands Antilles. The crater of this volcanic cone is filled with near-rainforest vegetation, but there is also cloud forest on part of the rim and relatively wet forest at higher elevations on the outer slopes.) I can imagine, though, that protection from the wind and sun would create slightly cooler, less dessicating conditions inside such a volcano.
The interior scene is taken from the Hanakapiai Valley along the Na Pali Coast on Kauai, Hawaii (the sheer valley wall visible in the background). The rainforest has been largely taken over by non-native species, as is the case with almost all lowland Hawaiian forests. However the native cordyline, or ti, plants in the lefthand portion of the image--not palms but related to them--still dominate.
The volcano was photographed in the Valley of the Volcanoes, a remote area in the Andes about 10 hours' drive from Arequipa, Peru and home to the picturesque village of Andagua. Scattered in-between two towering ranges of snowcapped mountains are about 80 extinct cinder cones. Covered in scrub and columnar cacti, most are small enough to climb in much less than an hour. The valley in general is fascinating botanically, geologically and culturally - in addition to the volcanoes there are gushing waterfalls, a diversity of eye-catching succulents, and fields terraced with volcanic stone. It's among one of my favorite places, partly because I know of only one other non-Peruvian who has heard of or visited it.