I had carried all of my painting gear out here, stepping carefully over dry lodged grasses, trying to avoid wet spots, and looking for a scene to paint, until I came to the creek and unburdened myself of paint caddy, easel, box of canvasses stool, and backpack. Then I took photos all around, and argued with myself for a long while over whether the sky, the creek, or the meadow should be most prominent in a painting, where the horizon should be in a composition, and how I should show the rocky underpinnings of the forest from such a great distance.
Finally I had three compositions planned, and the sun had set. As the light mellowed to evening, several marvellous things happened in different quarters of the sky. Great crests of cloud were combed by heavenly winds in different directions. I decided to paint sky and meadow both, with the narrow creek reflecting its blue, lavender, and grey between low tawny banks. I still
had not started when Fred arrived from his sampling of piles of rock and fallen Elm bark. In the process of explaining my indecision to him I decided upon the scene that you see here, but could not begin the painting, because I did not have a tall narrow canvas among the ones I had brought. Despite having carried all my gear into the meadow, this scene would have to be painted in the studio.
Fred and I noticed many young Leopard Frogs jumping into the creek and wondered why they were all so small so late in the season. As I wrote my notes, Fred headed downstream for a little ways looking for drift to document the mollusc fauna, but along 280 metres of stream he found very few shells, a bit of floating and a bit of sunken drift, and one muskrat feeding site with clumps of mud pulled up on sod in middle of stream. The only molluscs were a few Sphaerium (Fingernail Clam) shells, no snails, one Isopod, and a few fragments of insect exoskeleton. Then at dusk he heeded my calls to not go too far, and turned back where the stream turns towards a damper area than it seemed prudent to travese in the dark. We headed back under the rising moon, past picturesquely rusted farm implements at the base of the rock ledge, wondering if the stream may have been defaunated of Molluscs when it was grazed - or maybe the shells of snails aren't floating or visible in this autumnal season.
Back at the van we heard one Spring Peeper giving thin little peeps from woods across the road - the first frog voice we've heard here. A huge flock of Grackles, Redwinged Blackbirds, and Starlings were calling all together in an evening chorus from nearby trees.
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.