Artist Phillip Juras delivered the lunchtime talk, explaining how an artist can portray reality in a way photos cannot. Well, not reality in the sense of exact reproduction but in the perceptions of the changing nature. He gave an example of fire in the woods. A photo of a fire often shows a strange kind of leaping flame. When we watch it in real life, we see the continuity. An artist can capture what we see in our mind’s eye.
An artist can also paint things that were, might have been or might be. Juras studies photos and journals to get an idea of what the landscapes may have looked like. He relied, for example, on the journals of naturalist William Bartram, who traveled through the southern colonies from 1773-7. (Other stuff was going on around that time, but I guess it didn’t much affect him.) The landscapes he described are generally unavailable today, but an artist can recreate the feeling, or at least an approximation.