35.25" x 23.5"
Every day I feel grateful that we live across the street from the Rock Creek National Park. What could be better for an artist who paints nature? At the edge of the park, bordering our street is a cluster of Japanese maple trees (Acer palmatum) that have obviously escaped into the park from the gardens of the homeowners at the edge of the park. The park officials classify them as alien and invasive along with a number of plants vines and shrubs that have invaded the park.
Normally I don’t paint invasive species because I don’t want to encourage homeowners to plant them while the park people are making such effort to eliminate them. But their breathtaking autumn color is simply irresistible. Each tree seems to have its own brilliant variant of yellow, orange, red, or violet. Their layered branches mix these colors in dazzling patterns. I was forced to find a way to bend my principle against painting invasives. I did some investigation on the Internet. Some authors argue that they don’t seem to be as invasive as many other plants. They don’t appear to be harming the tulip trees that tower above them. But perhaps they are preventing native understory trees from thriving.
If the Japanese maples are compromising our native dogwood and red bud trees, I would have to side with the US Department of Agriculture who consider the Japanese maple an invasive species, “one that is likely to cause harm to the economy, environment, or human health." I would add “harm to the artist” to their list. Also, the Japanese maple is considered invasive in our the Rock Creek National Park (where I took the picture that resulted in this painting) by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.