Red Maples in Spring (sold) | Richard G. Tiberius

Red Maples in Spring (sold)  |  Richard G. Tiberius

30 x 30 in | 76.2 x 76.2 cm

After kayaking across Buckshot Lake and down the stream that flows out of it, normally I can slip under a low bridge connecting the lake with a quiet pond. On this occasion the spring rains had raised the water level so high that I couldn’t make it under the bridge. What I thought was an annoyance turned out to be a lucky accident. As I carried my kayak across the road I saw Red Maples, sometimes called Swamp Maples, all around the pond. On the near side I could see the pink blush of their new leaves and the fresh green of the ferns. The far side of the bank was obscured in the soft evening light, providing a dull contrast to the back lighted young maple shoots directly in front of me. It was an opportunity to paint a rare sight.

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Red Maples are certainly not rare. Their stunning fall color is a staple of postcards and calendars, but few people are familiar with their colors in spring. The bright pigments are in the leaves spring, summer and fall, but we see them only when the green chlorophyll that masks them in summer is destroyed by the cold or when chlorophyll production cannot keep pace with the rapid growth of the leaf in the early spring. Few people see these spring colors, because they last only a few days, at a time when the mosquitoes are forming their attack squadrons.

To create the perception of distance, I painted the Maple leaves in the foreground with the brightest reds and oranges; those on the little point jutting out into the pond were painted in a duller range; and the leaves on the tall trees at the far bank of the pond were painted in still more muted colors.

Red Maples (Acer rubrum) are common throughout Eastern North America. This little cluster grows at the side of a gravel road beside Buckshot creek in Southern Ontario.

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