Thursday, April 18, 2013

Green Grotto, Frontenac Arch (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) Sold

14 April finds me perched on my paint box, peering into a mossy grotto in the flank of a high crest of granite that overlooks a wetland in the rugged landscape of eastern Ontario's "Frontenac Arch". This is our first visit to explore and paint a Natural Area of special interest to Nature Conservancy Canada. We plan to return several times over the course of the spring, summer, and fall, to four properties which have been donated to the NCC. This one is the "Crank Property", on Olajos Road.

The crest of granite is about 50 metres long and about 5 metres high, padded on its ledges by soft green moss alternating with banks of Polypody ferns, flowing with sprays of Marginal Wood Fern, and ruffled in patches with large floppy Rock Tripe, Umbilicaria mammulata, tan on upper sides and velvety black beneath. When we first arrived we noticed the Rock Tripe on the lower shoulder at the south end, and there I took photos and searched for interesting compositions to paint.

While Fred walks farther along the road to the
marsh to check for drifted molluscs, I skirt the granite crest, pushing past thin twigged Viburnum bushes and clutching at the thin trunks of young Maples to steady my footing on fallen trunks and branches covered by a deep bed of Maple leaf litter. There, on the back side of the crest of granite I discover the green grotto, a vertical cleft in the rock, upholstered with mosses, laced and dripping with mossy liverworts, and patterned with reddish purple Peltigera  lichen with tiny red fingernail-like fruiting bodies. The several fronds of a winter-tired Marginal Wood Fern hang like a green silk scarf in the centre of the part that I select for my composition.

A pair of Canada Geese make a racket with their honking, defending their nest site on the far side of the open water below and behind me. Fred must be moving along the shore on this side. After a while I think I hear a Leopard Frog calling - a knocking snore - but listening to it repeating I realize that it's probably a woodpecker, sounding in brief bursts, not rising and falling in waves. In this late spring, the Leopard Frog time is not yet at hand.

Fred finds me by coming round the high north end of the granite crest, where the Rock Tripe is dense and lush with lobes larger than his hand, and then climbs to the top where he finds himself as it were in a different world entirely, dry and grassy with stunted Ash trees and large Sumacs, scattered with Red Cedars and low Junipers. The banks of Polypody ferns are strangely green among the whispy dry grasses and the Juniperus, dark reddish-brown and prickly. Despite recent exposure to the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, he encounters no crayfish-headed aliens.

Dear patrons and supporters,

The originals of the Frontenac Arch series including this painting will be shown at a special exhibition at Grace Hall, Sydenham, Ontario, opening on 1 February 2014 and closing on 29 April. Everyone is invited to the public reception and "talk by the artist" on 22 February. 

1 comment:

  1. Your paintings are exquisite, Aleta. I still love to look at the one I had you paint of our dog Lindy, for my husband.
    I hope the bids go up and up to support your work with the Nature Conservancy.


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