Showing posts from February, 2012

Beneath the Hemlocks (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.)

3 February finds me sitting in Pieter Trip's forest, preparing to paint a felled dead Spruce in his Hemlock grove. In the lofty, shadowy hall of Hemlocks the dark trunks stand well spaced, and strewn about their feet is all the "coarse woody debris" of the past 50 years of fallen trunks and branches. The older layers are already part of the soil, laced with living roots and suffused with a microscopic network of fungi that helps to release nutrients that feed the trees. An old mossy log has been crushed by the fall of a dead Spruce, cut by Pieter who encourages the deposition of coarse woody debris in his woods. Its radiating branches gesture every which way, speaking of the energy gathered in growth. Its long curved branches are actually poised motionless, but I can feel in the stillness of the winter woods that they are moving -  by seasons and years and decades, from life to death to life again as the forest slowly feeds itself, with a little help from its friend

Limerick Birches in Winter (oil on canvas 12 x 16 in) Sold

January 26 finds me hunting for a picturesque Paper Birch in Limerick Forest, Grenville County, Ontario. Just before the road dips down into crunchy ice and snow, sloping into a tight curve that may not be navigable without 4-wheel-drive,  we stop at a clump of young Birches, their rich salmon coloured underbark glowing through a thin chalky skin. I paint them looking down from the passenger window of the van. Their emergence from the snow is enlivened by a swirl of grey twigs to the front and set off by the parallel lines and arches of darker stems among and behind them. In a setting of pearlescent snow, melted and re-frozen to reflect the various colours of the early evening sky, I see a symphony of Birches. This is the swampy/brushy second growth across from one of Limerick Forest's many Red Pine plantations. The Red Pines have popmpoms rather than properly robust crowns - none of the bold strong branches of a Temagami Red Pine here, just a thin-armed bottle brush of minimal f