23 x 28 in | 58.4 x 71.1 cm
I found this stand of yellow birch while hiking a steep mountain trail early one morning. Since it was spring and the new leaves had not yet blocked my view, I could see deep into the woods through many layers of new leaves. It was an exciting challenge to paint the light diffused and reflected by the leaves. The stippled pattern of the leaves complemented the patches of light on the curling bark, giving the entire scene a kind of spotted appearance.
An old hemlock stump and a massive beech provided surfaces against which to show the shadows of the birch leaves. Mention birches and most people think only of peeling, white bark. Yellow birches peel too, like their white cousins, but with golden yellow curls.
A forester friend saw this painting and identified the trees as Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis) right away. Yellow Birches interest foresters because they can grow to massive sizes. He also reminded me that the twigs taste like wintergreen if you are out in the forest and want a little treat.
Yellow Birches can be seen throughout the forests of Southern Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes, down through the New England States and the Allegheny mountains. Because Yellow Birches live longer and tolerate shade better than the White Birches, they are often seen mixed with the other trees rather than in pure stands that die off as the other trees take over. This stand of Yellow Birches is living on a steep mountain slope in the Smokey Mountain National Park in Eastern Tennessee.