Friday, October 29, 2010

Still Life With Chickadee (watercolour 5 x 7 in.) Sold

26 October finds a road-killed Chickadee, discovered by me as I stopped the van at dusk to catch a migrating Leopard Frog on County Road 18 northeast of Bishops Mills. Fred was already out with the net, so I leapt out, following the frog into the roadside grass and catching her by hand, a big female destined for a breeding experiment at Carleton University.

As I turn back to the van, something glimmeres white in the fast-falling dark and I reach down to pick up a small lump of softness - a Chickadee, only a little bedraggled by tumbling to the wet road after being recently hit by a passing car.

In this porcelain bowl with two Crabapples it begs to be painted - two "mistakes" - the Chickadee's mistake was to fly into the path of an automobile, and the Crabapples... misidentified as Wild Pears for a while.


  1. Oh, I love it, Aleta. Chickadees are so sweet, and we have an ornamental crabapple tree in our front yard. Our lawn guy wants to trim off the lower branches (which get in his way when mowing) but I won't let him because deer come here when there's snow on the ground. They stand on their hind legs to reach the higher branches, but the smaller ones need the fruit on the low branches.

  2. The story of the false Pears is that Paul Catling recently published a paper about the range of feral Pears in Ontario, and I told him we had what we'd considered to be a wild Pear tree on our land, well beyond where he'd reported them. On 3 May 2010, 0.2 km S Bishops Mills, 44.87082N 75.70055W, I collected a blooming branch from the single 9-10 cm DBH, 5 m tall tree in thicket. Pure white blooms with unfolding leaves. This is a thicket of Rhamnus cathartica (Common Buckthorn), mostly cut down at least once, with Xanthoxylum americanum (Prickly-Ash), Prunus virginiana (Red Choke Cherry), and Thuja occidentalis (Eastern White Cedar) admixed. There are slabs and unexplored cracks here: the karsty-est bedrock on our land.

    As soon as I saw them I realized that the leaves of the specimen were not Pear-like, and on 25 September the ripe fruits in the paintings were detected. These were sherical, 24 & 26 mm diameter, with a rough pear-like skin, and a granular flesh which was, however, not as granular as a Pear would be, and with a distinctly applish flavour.


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