Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter Breakup (oil on canvas, 8 x 16 in.) Sold

18 January found me standing on the bridge at the dam in Oxford Mills, Ontario, admiring the wonderful diversity of forms and textures of ice and water during a mid-winter breakup. Most of our visits to Kemptville Creek at the Oxford Mills dam are nocturnal, as each Friday night through the winter we monitor a population of giant aquatic salamanders, Necturus nebulosus the Mudpuppy. We have been doing this for 15 years, and invite the public to join us in the count.

The diversity of forms and textures of ice have always excited me, and I'm pleased with the idea of painting ice and water as a subject in itself, with no view of the surrounding scene. This allows the painting to approach the abstract while maintaining enough realism to engage the mind in exploring the lights and textures as real.

My eyes and brushes play about the swirling foam over the brown and golden depths and shallows, and distinguish between golden submerged ice and milky translucent old ice, and the pillows and billows of frozen froth, snowy white new foam and ivory brown old foam, mapping the cracks in slabs patterned as if with lichens by crusty crystals of sublimated snow.

My enjoyment of this small segment of ice and water scape is magnified by the knowledge that tomorrow it will be different again, and when the extreme cold returns and the water level falls, there will be fantastic ice caverns in the spaces
beneath the shelves of ice along the creek banks, and ever-changing flutes and ruffles in the spray of the spillways. I could paint these marvels continuously!

This morning's high water from two days of temperatures well above freezing, disuaded the Saturday field trip of Little Ray's Reptile Zoo, as we'd predicted no Mudpuppies to be seen. Little Ray's e-mail saying they weren't coming hadn't gotten through to us, so we made the uncharacteristic daytime visit, scanning considerable areas of bottom from the safety of the bank.

The upstream side of the bridge was still jammed with flows, with foam and ripples of foam, and flowings of clear yellow water, and swirling vortices. The water was clear and very yellow, and while the older frozen foam was ivory-colour or brownish, the new foam was white, suggesting that ice had stopped melting in the colder temperatures overnight, so that particulate humic acid was no longer being released to make the water turbid and the foam brownish.

Fred reported that the water seems lower than at last night's Mudpuppyless regular nocturnal survey, flowing a little lower than 30 cm above the Vantage Point ledge, which is our measure of depth here. All three spillways of the dam are open, the flow from the east and central spillways coming together to make a joined current, with big eddies on east and west sides.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Aleta - so brilliantly captured by both painting and story. Thanks for sharing


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