21 x 24 in | 53.3 x 61 cm
I have painted Red Maples more often than any other subject, possibly because they present themselves in so many different ways. Ironically, until this painting I have not painted a Red Maple in one of its most common habitats, hanging over a river bank. Their other name, Swamp Maple, is well earned. They are highly tolerant of water. They thrive even on the banks of rivers that are periodically flooded.
As they grow heavier and as the river bank erodes the branches lean more and more until they are touching the water. Eventually they fall into the river, where they provide shelter for fish and nutrients for aquatic plants. This tree shows the whole sequence of life on the river bank. Fresh new branches reach vigorously toward the sky. Older branches hang so low that I had to bend into my canoe to slide underneath. I paddled around branches still floating on the surface and slowly over old snags at the bottom that could rip the canvas on the bottom of my canoe.
What makes this such an exciting scene to paint is that the older trunks turn color before the younger ones, so in early fall the full range of colors are displayed, from brilliant reds to rich greens. Added to these colors are the ocher tones where patches of missing bark reveal the wood and the blue-green lichens and olive mosses on the North side of the tree where they are protected from the sun. Finally, the reflections in the river gave me an opportunity to repeat all this beauty in muted shades.
Red Maples (Acer Rubrum) grow just about everywhere east of the Mississippi, from Canada to Florida. This particular old Red Maple lives on the Edge of Brown’s Creek, off of Buckshot Lake, in Plevna, Ontario.