Cooper Marsh Late August


Cooper Marsh in Late August (oil on birch panel 8 x 10 in.)

28 August 2023 found me painting on the back deck of the Visitors Centre at the Cooper Marsh Conservation Area. It's a hot day, and I'm demonstrating plein air painting as part of a workshop hosted by the Raisin Region Conservation Authority and inspired by our mussels project with the River Institute. 

It's a hot day, so we stayed in the building's shade rather than venturing out into the sunny marsh. Also, the deck offers a higher view across the marsh to the thin line of the pale blue St Lawrence and the deeper hazy blue of the north shore of New York State, visible between the Poplars and Willows.

An Osprey calls loudly and insistently overhead. A Red Squirrel scolds chirrs every once in a while, in irritation that we are still here, and once a Bull Frog thrums unseen, from open water somewhere out there among the yellow-green Carex or the dark green Scirpus, this side of the strip of tall, pale-plumed Phragmites reed that grades into a band of Purple Loosestrife, dark and dull as it's past flowering. Each change in colour and tone out there shows a transition from one kind of dominant vegetation to another. I would like to know what they all are, but I can't both go wandering across the marsh taking notes, AND demonstrate plein air painting from up here on the deck!

Cooper Marsh is a managed wetland, created by the flooding of what had been farmland as the St Lawrence was dammed to create Lake St Francis for hydro power and ship passage. It's centred on land that was owned by the Cooper family, with subsequent acquisitions by the Raisin Region Conservation Authority. The marsh is surrounded by dikes, with deep excavated channels, and water levels controlled by pumping. It is managed for avian and plant diversity, which are maintained by periodic drawdowns of water levels. This may reduce the chances that the goal of our quest - Saggitunio nasutus, Ligumia nasuta, the Eastern Pondmussel, or Pointed Sand-shell, will have a population here, but we've triggered interest in the question of mussel diversity, and we'll have to see what is found.

The original oil painting, "Cooper Marsh Late August" is available for purchase at the price of $350
For more information about this painting and others, or to commission a painting, please contact Aleta at <karstad @> - remember to remove the spaces in the address.


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