24" x 20"
Buckshot Lake, Southern Ontario, Canada
I woke up early at my wife’s family cottage. Everyone else was still asleep. I can’t remember the cause for the celebration the night before, but we had all been up late. I was the only person up at daybreak, so I sneaked out of the house without waking anyone. The air was still. There was nothing to disturb the morning mist which hung over the lake.
At first the mist was so opaque that I couldn’t see the opposite shore. Nothing could be seen beyond the trees in the foreground. Gradually the morning sun began to streak across the lake, lighting up the edges of the trees and burning off the mist. When the trees on the opposite shore emerged, I kept taking pictures. I knew that I had just a few minutes to capture both the mist and the sun striking the trees. Soon the trees would be trimmed in golden light but the mist would be gone.
When I examined the slides in my studio (This was before digital cameras), none of them had captured all the key features of the composition—the mist, the emerging trees on the opposite shore and the streaks of light hitting the trunks. But my eyes had enjoyed all these features as the time passed. I wanted my painting to show everything that I had experienced. My objective was to portray the experience of being there, not just a moment in time. So, I did what photographers are not permitted to do if they are selling their pictures to National Geographic, but what artists must do if they want to distinguish their work from photography. I borrowed components from several photographs to create a collage out of different stages of the dawn.
There are a number of plants in this scene common to the rocky shores of Ontario Lakes: Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) on the left, followed by some Red Oaks (Quercus rubra) including a small one whose Autumn leaves had not yet fallen and White Birch (Betula papyrifera). A few small pine and spruce trees were sprouting up. The dry brown plants against the rock are Bracken Ferns (Pteridium aquilinum).