Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cobbs Lake Creek (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

11 October finds me sitting on the edge of an old railway embankment, which is now the "Prescott & Russell Recreational Trail", painting Cobbs Lake Creek. I seldom see a view so distant. The South Nation watershed is full of distant views. In some the soybean fields look like they go on forever. The creek's shadowed western bank shows dark, far into the distance, all the way to the autumn colours of trees near the horizon. Above them I paint the bright blue of hills on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.
The creek is broad and flat, with dark reddish stands of Giant Ragweed tapering down into the creek bed from its banks like glacial moraines. Blond tassels of Phragmites reed catch the late afternoon sun, and a little farther toward the centre of the creek bed, a stand of cattails glows yellow as its leaves lose their summer green. Water glimmers in wet patches among the autumn-faded grasses in the creek bed. A ribbon of rushes, still green, mark what remains of the central channel.

This land is so flat that during spring thaw it becomes a lake, covering several square kilometres of fields, only criss-crossed by roads and this railway bed. On the tour this was pointed out to us as the place that has the most extreme flooding in the South Nation drainage. The view from this spot every March is "Cobbs Lake", with all the vegetation submerged, waiting patiently for weeks until the spring floodwater finally runs off the clay that supports this rich agricultural landscape.

A perky Song Sparrow, all stripy with a black spot on its breast hops from twig to twig on a leafless Ash tree that stretches its branches across my scene. A breeze blows chill at my back as the sun sets and I pack up my paints and return along the old railroad bed toward the highway. As Marigold and I cross the old railway bridge my eye is caught by the motion of a swimming Muskrat. Then it notices me and ducks beneath the surface, its dark shape briefly discernible in the milky brown water that never completely drops its suspended clay.

The next day Fred went out to identify the plants in my landscape, and determined that this stand of Phragmites is the native kind, unlike most others that are spreading along the ditches in this area.

This original painting is available for $275. For information on purchase and shipping, contact me at karstad@pinicola.ca

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