20 June finds me in a Silver Maple forest flooded by Trout Creek in the Grand Lake Meadows PNA, New Brunswick. I am painting the portrait of a tree that is extending a long horizontal limb, twisted and forked, in my direction. Its bark is shaggy with strap-like plates lifting at either end. This is not the largest tree on the clay floodplain. There is a several-trunked Silver Maple several metres away, standing amidst Sensitive Fern at the waters edge, and not far away in the other direction, a huge Green Ash tree, leans toward a Silver Maple as if in conversation. Its trunk is about a meter in diameter at chest height.
Barb Brown and I have followed this track deep into the Silver Maple forest, the trees getting older and larger with a more complete canopy the further down toward the Jemseg River we went, identifying tracks in the soft mud - Raccoon, Moose, Deer, and Bear. Barb walks farther on as I stay here to decide which trees to paint.
As I apply my underpainting of greyish rose, Fred, Owen, and the dog Marigold appear, having caught Garter Snakes in a pile of sodden drywall at the head of the trail, and one Leopard Frog of several that were sitting on the grassy path before it entered the riverine forest.
Owen rambles on ahead taking notes of trees while Fred and Marigold stay with me for a while as I begin to paint. Fred turns logs and bark, finding several Blue-spotted Salamanders and various snails and slugs. This looks idyllic, but it's a pretty harsh environment because of this flooding that it endures. Only a few kinds of plants can persist here, and small animals like salamanders and snails have to keep changing their homesites. Deciding to see whether he can reach the Jemseg River on this path, and to catch up with Owen, and strikes out, leaving Marigold with me. She finds this forest rather spooky, especially when an unseen Beaver pops its tail on the water in a loud explosion somewhere out among the watery bushes.
We are pleased to be joined by the others before dusk, so I pack up, painting unfinished, but with good enough photos for continuing at the Bio-blitz lab in the old Court House Museum in Gagetown.
Dear patrons and supporters,
This painting has been selected for the collection of the New Brunswick Museum. I will be painting until 25 June at the New Brunswick Museum Bio-blitz, held this year in the Grand Lake Meadows Protected Natural Area near Fredericton, New Brunswick. Any paintings that remain unsold at the end of the Bio-blitz will be available for purchase after 25 June.