40" x 24"
A few years ago, my wife and I visited the Jacques Cartier National Park in Québec on my birthday, in early in May. We remembered the beautiful Yellow Birches (Betula alleghaniensis) bursting with new leaves. Recently we tried to repeat the experience, but this time spring hadn’t happened yet. Although the trees’ buds were swollen, there were no leaves, and it was cold and rainy the entire week. We slogged through wet snowbanks wearing our rain outfits with baseball caps under our hoods to keep the rain from our glasses.
It sounds disappointing, but from an artistic point of view it was an outstanding week. A little later in the season the leaves would have blanketed the birches, hiding their golden yellow bark, the main feature of this painting. And in a week or two the distant hillside would have been solid green. Instead, tens of thousands of opening buds on the twigs created a pink blush on the hillside. Using the edge of my knife I tapped the panel hundreds of times to create the silvery branches and the rosy glow.
The rain wetted the bark of the birches, enhancing its golden colors. Painting the bark exhausted my collection of ocher colors. So many shades! The Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) needles were fresh and bright in the rain and the blue light of an overcast day gave a blue-green luminance to the lichen and a silvery lining to the moss that draped from the branches. Finally, the overcast sky turned the river turquoise.
At the bottom right, is a patch of Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericia). It typically won’t grow in the deep shade of the forest but does very well at the edge of the riverbank where it finds sufficient sun.