36" x 24"
Few trees equal the brilliance of Red Maples in the fall. And Sumac is the unexcelled champion of color variation. Sumac shrubs have compound leaves, which means that each leaf has many little leaflets joined to a single stem. The colors on even a single leaflet can blend from purple to yellow-orange. I used more than a dozen knives at the same time, each with a different color. When these two species grow together, as in the scene that inspired this painting, the result is a dazzling feast of color. The soft yellow background reflected in the pond is mostly from sugar maples.
And to think that we almost missed this scene. Joyce and I were driving back after spending a week camping with our relatives. We took lots of pictures but they were rather disappointing. The mist and fog dulled the colors. Then, on the way home we spotted a flash of color on a rise beside the roadway. We pulled over, climbed up and found that the source of the color, a Red Maple, growing beside a quiet little pond, hidden from the road. The sun came out for just enough time for us to take a few pictures.
The Red Maple (Acer rubrum) is one of the most widespread trees in North America, ranging throughout all the States and Provinces east of the Mississippi. I have seen them growing in the wetlands around Miami, Florida and the hills of Nova Scotia. Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina), is found mainly in the Northeastern States and bordering Canadian Provinces. The common name refers to the forking pattern of the branches, which resemble the horns of a stag. Don’t confuse it with poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), which is not even in the same family as Staghorn Sumac. Far from poisonous, the red seeds of the Staghorn can be steeped in boiling water to make a delicious tea high in vitamin C.