Dumoine Serenity

"Dumoine Serenity" (8 x 8 in. oil on canvas)

5 August 2021 started out foggy just as yesterday. I stepped carefully barefoot down my little trail to the river edge just before 08:00 to see if I could see a misty morning scene to paint. Everything was blurry except foreground Sweet Gale and Alder bushes, and the bright flecks of foam floating lazily down from the mouth of a creek, or the churning canyon of La Grande Chute. I took a few photos and went up to breakfast, during which the sun burned through, heralding another hot day.

Now at 09:30 all the mist is gone, leaving a blue haze on the forested hills and a white haze in the sky, with a faintest tint of blue overhead and a brassy glare to the east… and that’s my morning scene, to the east. My focal point will be the glossy black river where it snakes past the far end of a narrow island, between a leaning White Pine and a golden-tipped stand of grasses, backed by the blue forest and it’s downswept skyline against the bright brassy sky.

As I sit on my log to write this, a sturdy black Dragonfly darts and hovers, turns to dart again and hover, above its perfect reflection and. water Striders dart about erratically, hunting the surface for erratically, leaving a brief wake with each thrust. For 20 minutes I watched one, then another - three individuals - a darting white mote on dark hill reflection and darting black mote on sky reflection, and saw them pounce on small flying insects that came to the surface. But what eats Water Striders? In all the time I watched, many sudden concentric rings appeared - fish snatching some tiny unfortunate from the surface, but none of the Water Striders I followed were captured from below.

As I write a “splurp” makes me glance up quickly - to see nothing but the ripples left by something going down. Perhaps I was being watched by a Muskrat or an Otter. Whatever it was stayed underwater or travelled out of sight. A Pike wouldn’t be interested in Water Striders, would it? In the distance Blue Jays carry on a raucous family conversation. A no-See-Um drills into my wrist, a painful winged speck, easily crushed into nothing.

10:40 and the sun has become very hot, and combined with rainforest-like humidity, painting here at the river-edge is impossible - so I’m retreating several metres into the cool piney shade by my tent to paint this morning scene from photos. 

This painting is my donation to Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Ottawa Valley in support of their campaign to conserve wild rivers. It was done at this year's 7-day DRAW artists retreat on the wild, undammed Dumoine River which drains an immense tract of Quebec wilderness into the Ottawa River west of Ottawa.


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