Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Baie de Pentecote (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

26 July finds me sitting on a root in the low bank of Baie de Pentecote, near the entrance of Plaisance National Park, Quebec. I am in the lee of a bush, but a brisk breeze turns the leaves of a Silver Maple, whose lowest branch gestures toward the bay. Across the bay is the base of the long peninsula of the park, stretching eastward into the Ottawa River. Just beyond where my feet are resting on the mud at water's edge, the Pickerelweed is sending up spikes of purple-flowers. 
Our mussel survey team is elsewhere, counting clams in quarter-metre quadrats, grubbing with their hands in the sandy bottom of metre-deep water on the Ottawa River shore of the park. I will join them at another site tomorrow, but now I am quickly painting the changing sky as cloud shadows and sunlight chasing each other across the scene before me, highlighting now the marsh and now the trees. A thunderstorm is banking up dark masses over my shoulder, rolling and booming its approach, and I pack up my paints and head for the van as the first drops fall.

After lunch with our crew at the park headquarters, I return to my spot. I am lucky that the sun's progress from noon to early afternoon does not change the aspect much, and I paint the tree, reaching long, leaf-feathered branches in slight upward curves - very un-tree-like, I think. Bank Swallows dip and swoop over the water, and Cedar Waxwings fly-catch with them. The Waxwings have longer tails tipped with pale feathers, compared with the swallows' blunt and dark, and sometimes I can see the dark band across the swallows' white breasts. Dragonflies are flycatching too, darting and hovering, some of them in tandem mated pairs.

There are no mussels to be seen along the shore right here, but on our return to the house in Montebello, Jean-Francois shows us the Potomilus alatus that he picked up as an empty shell. It is angular and tall-crested, with a rich pink pearly nacre. This species is listed as rare and endangered in Quebec. The mussel crew has been finding many of them alive today , and it's a "Pentecost-like experience", Fred says, to find so many of these spectacular clams that since their discovery in the Ottawa River in 1863, have been thought to be very rare!

NOTE: This painting is not submitted for the one-week auction, because our gracious host of the survey requested to purchase it as soon as it was finished.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not surprised someone wanted to buy it as soon as it was finished, Aleta. I saw the thumbnail photo of it and thought "I want that" and then saw "sold" in the heading as I clicked on it.
    It's beautiful.
    — K

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

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