Royal Poinciana
Ocean Shore
Breaking Waves
Indian River
St. Lucie and Inland Rivers
Backcountry Pines
River of Grass
Stormy Weather
Moonlight on the Water
Orange Groves and Rarities

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A. E. Backus. Backwoods Dawn

Alfred Hair. Backwoods, Dusk

The Highwaymen relied heavily on what Backus had proven was successful for their subject matter. Using Backus’s paintings as standards, for the most part they stayed with certain scenes, ones that they knew were popular and that would sell. Beyond determining what was marketable, Backus’s paintings had an even greater influence, serving as models, and more specifically, templates, for the Highwaymen’s paintings. Backus and the Highwaymen mainly created scenes that are distinctively southern Florida , with exceptions. Despite being painted with a broad brush as a land of sandy beaches and palm trees, the state has a varied topography. With 1,300 miles of shoreline that transforms from the wide northern beaches into the sugary sands of the Gulf Coast, Florida offers surprising changes of scenery as one explores the state. Its interior changes as well, from arid plains dotted with pine trees to rolling low hills, to open pastures and endless acres of marsh. The area where most of the artists lived was blessed with natural gifts and its own particular landscape characteristics. From the Atlantic Ocean, across the Indian River, and out west to the backcountry around Lake Okeechobee—these were places that were recorded by Backus, and in turn, painted by the Highwaymen.

The templates are essentially categories of seascapes and landscapes that give a comprehensive idea of the subject matter that both Backus and the Highwaymen depicted. The similarities—as well as the dissimilarities—are telling. One is a practiced approach, displaying Backus’s vision, the essential primer that captures so masterfully the natural beauty of Florida . The other is a practical approach that gets around the constraints of time, materials, and society and in doing so fully engages the viewer in a unique, unparalleled expression of the Florida landscape.