The place represented in this work I don't imagine as being located on an island, although it still focuses on the idea of landscapes diverse in the topographical sense. The towering rock formations are two adjacent mountain summits, "falling" into a misty, jungle-choked valley. This valley begins in the center-foreground, drops precipitously into the distance, and eventually spills out into an open landscape of rolling forested hills several hundred meters below. These foothills can be glimpsed in the upper-left portion of the composition.
The rock formations are located on Pico das Agulhas Negras, Brazil's third-highest mountain, located in Itatiaia National Park between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. These high elevations, which receive snow on occasion, are covered by dense, scrubby vegetation including hardy bamboo, low tree ferns, and giant red bromeliads. The park also contains tropical rainforest (covering the distant foothills) and otherworldly stands of Araucaria angustifolia (paraná pine), a relative of the Norfolk Island Pine and Chile's monkey puzzle tree.
The forested valley in the center was photographed near the end of Peru's Inca Trail - a popular three-day hiking route leading to Machu Picchu - as it begins to dip down from alpine grassland dotted with bromeliads and tree ferns into subtropical rainforest.
In Itatiaia I wasn't able to access the cloud forest directly from the alpine areas, and I'm not sure if it's even possible. Along the Inca Trail I did witness the boundary between these two ecosystems, but the upper reaches of the forest here appeared to be scraggly and impenetrable rather than luxuriant. So, I was inspired to "re-design" this ecological boundary, incorporating the Itatiaia rock formations to emphasize the vertical journey from alpine summit through cloud-forested valley to rain-forested lowlands. Plus, in the painting, I imagine the cloud forest to be more welcoming than in the photograph.
The location of both these places at high elevations in large mountain ranges (Brazil's Mata Atlantica and the Peruvian Andes) give them a sense of power and grandeur that perhaps discouraged me from mentally transplanting them to a small island, as I tend to do in most cases. There may a bit of a conflict here, then, with my general attraction to "compressed" and totally "knowable" environments. I suppose this conflict exists in all the works to some degree: the locations depicted may not be imposing, but many I find to be at least somewhat threatening in their austerity and emptiness. The resolution may lie in the fact that I'm thinking of the word "knowable" in the spatial sense, rather than on some deeper level.