Thursday, October 21, 2010

Burlington Beach Cormorant (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

19 October finds us visiting the Lake Ontario shore in Burlington Ontario, after Fred's first day of meetings on the conservation and recovery of rare fresh water mussels.

It is sunny, but windy and cool. Autumn mating chironomid midges hover in dancing clouds and single individuals brush against my hair as I walk down to the water's edge to watch a big Great Lakes ship pass imperceptibly, lit by the late afternoon sun across the pale blue lake.  I am composing a painting of the grapevines draped over willow bushes and a low dune bracketed by drifts of fallen leaves, with the pearly blue lake behind with pinkly glowing skyscrapers of Hamilton along a high horizon.

The beach edge thickets are alive with little birds, hopping and peeping softly among the grape vines and scuffling the fallen leaves for insects - sparrows and warblers of many kinds. Ducking inside the nearest thicket, I brush aside a few vines and notice something black lying like a small cast off jacket. Stepping  closer it changes fantasy-like into a dwarfed waif draped in a dark blanket, sleeping - or dead. And so it is, a Cormorant who crept in here to die, blanketed by its dark wing iridescent in purple and green.

Protected by legislation from near extinction, Cormorants are hated by some fishermen, who regard them as competitors. This will be my subject for today's painting. On its other side I see an open wound, attesting to a violent death. It reminds me of the Gannet I painted at Cap Lumiere, New Brunswick.


  1. That's so sad. The fishermen who hate birds and see them as competition are extremely small-minded and selfish.

  2. Here's a quatrain for Lake Ontario Cormorants:

    Oh to be Phalacrocorax,
    Oh to give Bass fishermen fits
    So they pick through all your castings
    And do isotopes of your shits.


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