Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mudpuppy Mussel (watercolour, approx. 3 x 4 in.) SOLD

The last of my watercolours of fresh water mussels for this contract with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the one closest to our hearts, because its host is the Mudpuppy. Kemptville Creek, where we do Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills would be a paradise indeed if this species occurred here. It The range gets into Ontario at the extreme south west of the province. 

The recovery plan for this species advises increasing the population of Mudpuppies as hosts for the larval glochidia, and an astute aquarist at Waterloo University is designing artificial dens for trial deployment as Mudpuppy nest sites in the Sydenham River where this species occurs, but Mudpuppies are less abundant than they are in Oxford Mills.

These are some of the notes I made in the process of painting the Mudpuppy Mussel:  I have lightened and re-drawn the edges of the shapes that I see in and through the inner valve, and then softened them with my kneaded eraser. The shell is quite thin, and presents an additional problem from those where there is only reflected light to show. As I apply the peachy glow of light that is transmitted through the upper part of the shell, I worry about how bright it is, and how much it overwhelms the actual colour and surface detail of the nacre. In the Epioblasmas and a little in the earlier species I showed as much translucency as I saw, and realized that it can be used as an indicator of shell thinness. 

This is the thinnest shell of them all, but I am afraid that the transmitted light is too bright!  I lay my pencil against the top edge of the shell to cut out the back lighting. Now the shell's inner surface is shaded at the top, and it is all a silky greyish purple, with very little peachy colour visible in the colour of the nacre, mostly on the right hand side. Then I move the pencil a little over a centimetre away and anchor it with the kneaded eraser. That cuts out the light that shines from the window onto the upcurved backside of the shell, and the only light that is transmitted through the shell now is reflected light from the cardboard substrate. I decide to go with that. I can see both the warmth of light through the shell and the colour and surface detail of the nacre.

1 comment:

  1. It's beautiful, Aleta.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel


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