36" x 24"
Brown's Creek, Southern Ontario, Canada
Although trees in their autumn color are among the most popular landscape subjects aquatic plants are rarely included as part of autumn’s splendor. But aquatic plants also change color as the weather turns cold. My wife, Joyce, an expert canoeist, was maneuvering our canoe through aquatic plants while I looked for promising compositions with my camera. At first, while we were facing the sun, the glare washed out the color of the leaves and water. But as soon as Joyce turned the canoe around so that the sun was at our backs, the glare disappeared and the leaves came alive with many shades of violet, red, yellow, and green. I snapped pictures as fast as I could.
In my studio I drew a composition based on the photographs. In the final composition the leaves of the lilies swirled around a dense patch of Pickerel Weed like a cornucopia. I could imagine a frog hoping across the flat leaves as if it were on a garden path.
Flat objects are difficult to paint with knives, especially when they are imprinted with delicate veins. I rotated the bottom of the knife in a rough circle parallel to the surface to create the flat leaf. Then I tapped the edge of the knife in paint of a slightly different color and tapped it onto the leaf in rays creating a pattern like spokes of a wheel. Finally I stroked the rays to blend them into the leaf. This kind of stroking must be accomplished with very light pressure. I held the knife so lightly that only the weight of the knife was pressing on the surface. In fact, every now and then the knife slipped out of my hand.
Almost all of the leaves on the surface of the water belong to Fragrant White Water Lilies (Nymphaea odorata). Their rounded shape, narrow V-shaped split and white flowers distinguish them from other floating lilies. I have also painted two flowers and three leaves of The Yellow Pond Lily (Nuphar varietgatum). Their leaves are smaller than those of the White Water Lily and heart shaped with rounded lobes. The little oval leaves that are not split are something totally different. They are Water Shield (Brasenia schreiberi).
And the Pickerel Weed? Those are the tall shoots with long pointed leaves and violet flowers that look like little bottle brushes. What a feast of color on such a little patch of water!