Monday, September 7, 2009

Canada Plum with Redstart - Aleta Karstad



Two-note Goldfinches brightly
Tinkle like gold coins
Through the Canada Plums.

The raspy castanet of the Wren clears them all away,

And then the August Sun rises to flicker
Dappling gold coins
on the tent fly.

A Mourning dove's low wood wind begins,
A soft slow pendulum for the day.

31 August, 07:30 Bishops Mills, Ontario

Sitting on my paint box in front of the tent, looking into the tangle of Buckthorn and Canada Plum that thicket about the twin trunks of a tall Manitoba Maple this morning, at about the time that we heard the Goldfinches swarm through yesterday morning and I wrote my poem.

No Goldfinches this morning. A brown and white striped bird chips once or twice and peers at me from within the shady tangle, muted against the sharply contrasted background of bright green-gold backlit foliage and the crisp dark filigree of the twigs and shaded leaves among dark sinuous branches.


Pondering the colour of the underpainting for a while, I decide on a misty, shady blue-green. So the cool dawn shadows will be a base for early morning illumination among the leaves. When the trunks and stems are all discovered and drawn in sepia I stop to take a photo to record this early stage. Then I lay in the brightest, clearest backlit yellows and yellow-greens - some as areas, some as individual points of light.

Fred comes up the path, bringing my morning tea, stands beside me for a while, and points at a Redstart on a dead branch to the left of my scene. I have never seen a live Redstart! Mine have always been hypothetical and potential Redstarts, improbably black and red on the pages of field guides. Looking up at it, the undertail coverts are a bright buffy yellow and the rest of the pattern of red-orange and black is too complex for my mind's eye to capture.

Later, as I toil away, deciding how leaves may be allowed to obscure certain branches, the Redstart appears in the "livingroom" of my thicket, flips its wings, cocks its sharp black head and is gone. I almost never include birds or mammals in my plein air paintings - unless they become a living part of the scene as I paint it. This bird did, but the painting remains a view of the thicket and I hope it's obvious to the viewer that the Redstart was there for only a moment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?