Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hemlock Looking Up (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) SOLD!

21 September finds us looking up into the crown of a 400 year old Hemlock tree in Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia.  Lying on my back with my head propped against the railing of the boardwalk, this is the first time I've painted up into a tree. The top of the trunk fades into a blur of grey branches in the halo of soft sunlit needles against a blue sky. I am guessing that the tree may be 40-50m tall. Its branches are stout, curved and twisted more like an Oak than a Hemlock,

Higher twigs are whispy with Usnea lichen, moving with the breeze like downy feathers. Lower on the trunk the bark is 'painted' in patches and splashes with softly weathered grey-green crustose lichen. There is none of the frilly Lobaria lichen that festoons the trunks of some of the other trees. Most of the lower branches are broken, and a section of broken branch as thick as my leg hangs in crotch of another branch and sways in the breeze. A Blue Jay flies soundlessly overhead to one of the upper branches, and then away again.
Not shown in my painting, a large side branch juts out horizontally and then rises vertically in the shape of a conventional Conifer on one side of the crown.

Other old Hemlocks stand spaced about 15 - 20 metres from each other, but the smaller Maples and Birches grow closer, crowded by Spruce and Pine which actually push at their trunks with needled branches. Moose Maple seedlings spread their flat leaves above the forest floor. Pillows of dry fluffy moss cover old dead wood and Wintergreen raises its hard shiny leaves in clusters.

As I paint Fred discovers three Redbacked Salamanders and a few very small slugs, Arion and the native Pallifera in the process of turning flakes of Hemlock, rotten branches, and curls of Birch bark. He replaces all cover turned and does not disturb the rotten logs. He reports that everything looks very well processed here - slug droppings, and tracks gnawed into the cap of a Russula mushroom - but we would have to come during or after a rain to meet the larger slugs and snails.


  1. Really love this one, Aleta! An original angle. Not sure whether I am more motivated myself to continue painting trees (an obsession for a decade) or be intimidated!
    -Louise (Montreal)

  2. I really like this painting. What is the purchase price?

  3. Thank you! This one sold in its first week - sorry I forgot to put the "SOLD" sign on its title as soon as that happened.

    Please e-mail me regarding the purchase of paintings at

    All of the prices start at $200 and can be bid on for one week. This week I am having a special post-maritime trip "clearance" sale, reducing the starting price to $180. Have a look at the rest of them and see if there's another you'd like.

    If you really still want one that has sold, you may be interested to know that I also paint larger remasterings of my expedition paintings,on commission. 8 x 10 for $400 and 20 x 24 for $600. I will only ever paint one remastered painting per size though, as I don't make unlimited multiple copies.

  4. wow..nice painting you have...i've seen it as a child looking at the top of the tree... love it nice combination of colors...



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