28" x 24"
What struck me at first about this scene was the lighting. It seemed to glow. Since direct sunlight failed to penetrate this deep forest, the brilliant greens of the mosses and the shiny leaves of the ferns glowed with an almost iridescent light. Moreover, in the few places where the foliage opened, the light temperature cooled radically. I sketched the composition with one of those places near the middle so that the viewer could walk into the scene visually.
Because I was so taken by the light, at first, I didn’t recognize what kind of trees I was looking at. It wasn’t difficult to sort them out. There were only two kinds, Douglas Trees, and Western Hemlocks. The Douglas are bigger probably only because they grow faster, and there is no moss on the Douglas as there is on the Hemlocks. I have read that the Douglas Fir bark may be too dry or acidic or something. I know that the bark of the Hemlock feels is soft and spongy in the rain, but the Douglas bark is always hard, something I learned by tree hugging.
I was delighted with this little finding. One of the joys of painting is how it enhances my ability to see. My botany teacher at the University of Toronto, Dr. Heimburger, taught me this a long time ago. She always required us to draw what we saw in the microscope. Sure, there were better drawings in our textbook, but the act of drawing helped us notice things that we had been unaware of before.
This forest is on the West Coast. I can’t remember if it is in the Olympic National Park in Oregon or on Vancouver Island along the lower southwestern coast of British Columbia. It makes a huge difference to humans. We assign these two places into two different countries. But from the top of Mt. McKinley the forest is seamless. The dashed line that we see on our atlas is of our own making. The Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) live happily on both sides of this border.