Friday, May 14, 2010

Reclaimed (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) SOLD!

12 May finds me sitting in the woods near Highway 11, not far from the rest area at Long Lake, south of Cochrane, Ontario.  Attracted by glimpses of sun-splashed moss under conifers, I crossed a narrow ditch from the grassy field of clay mounds left by bulldozers that had constructed the new highway forty years ago.  Stepping over fallen Aspen branches I came into a foresty feeling place - at least moss and rotting logs means forest to me.  A little White Spruce, glowing in a patch of sunlight, stands in the middle of a thick patch of soft tufty moss, lending itself as a subject for painting.

Having settled myself down with stool and easel and decided on the orientation of the canvas, I find myself noticing how this and the other moss patches are obviously in the process of expanding to cover bare clay littered with poplar leaves and twigs.  At first I thought that the lumpy surface with crumbly spots showing among the dry leaves must be the work of earthworms, invading the forest even here in the northern clay belt - but Fred reminds me that the action of frost can also produce extruded-looking pellets on the surface of soil.

It takes the forest a long time to reclaim bare clay.  The initial cover was Aspens and Fir, and the White Spruce is coming up underneath.  The Aspen all around here are dying.  They are not shade tolerant at all, and lots of Fir trees die young.  Their fallen bodies help to give organic structure for mosses and other forest plants to get started.  Off to the right of this scene, I can look into a more mature Spruce/Aspen forest with a much more diverse undergrowth.

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