This is the last of the 11 Pilot Trip paintings and drawings.
4 x 6 oil on canvasClayton vernal pool
11:00 Fred and I are booked as Invertebrate (non-insect) experts at the Bell Property Bio Blitz on Clayton Road. This is the last Bio Blitz of the season - a very late one, at the end of a summer of more Bio Blitzes than any before. Taking one look at the Headquarters, several tables arrayed with books, microscopes, jars of insects and rainbows of mushrooms, and computers, all set out under a series of canopies in the woods behind a banner for the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, gives the impression that this is perhaps the best organized Bio Blitz ever!
Adam and I, equipped with mushroom guides and painting kit, wander off into the woods toward a patch of sunlight where we've been told there is a wet area with lots of ferns, while Fred readies himself to lead the Invertebrate Walk.
12:00 We hadn't gone far along a trail when it passed close by a dried-down vernal pool, still taking its summer rest, its dry bottom plastered with blackish leaves, criss-crossed by moss-crested logs, and shaded by tall old Maples green-skirted with mosses and ferns. My eye was caught by a conical-capped mushroom that had matured from orange to a dark cherry red, but before I could decide on the composition, Adam had collected it and was in the process of identifying it.
I was also taken by a nearly dried-out Helleborine Orchid, its parallel-veined leaves turning dry and pale, and its spent flowers scraps of brown tissue at the ends of swollen green ovaries. But I couldn't find an exciting composition - in fact, with a wealth and diversity of fascinating forms and textures all around me, I felt like a confused hungry person in a restaurant with too many choices on the menu. And many potential scenes depended on patterns of sunlight which would shift and change. Finally after nearly an hour of indecision, I settled down behind a mossy log graced lacy ferns with fine-stems. Adam found the shell of a fingernail clam - a live-bearing inhabitant of the mud of temporary pools and ponds.
12:45 I start with a dull purple underpainting, the colour of the light on blackish leafy bottom of the dried down pools, nicely contrasted by mossy green. Adam takes his mushrooms back to headquarters to contribute a couple of species to the tally, and the Seburn family finds me and sits for a long time, quietly watching me paint, and intermittently sharing bits of the summer's news. It's a perfect day, the last of our 10 day pilot trip, and I'll be returning home tonight with ten paintings.
At 14:30 I stop, and pack up to go with Adam to pick up his car in Aylmer, leaving Fred to stay for the barbeque. I will have to fill in some moss and crisp up the leaves before I can upload this one to the daily painting blog.