Monday, April 11, 2011

Racing the Rain

I decided to paint from the dead-end scenic road south of Burk's Falls. It was a race with the weather. The cirrostratus had thickened overnight and bands of altostratus were streaking across the southern horizon with the warm conveyor belt of the spring storm. These same winds produced gravity waves in the cloud above the warm frontal surface. At the ground I had a raw, damp easterly wind chilling me and my hands to the bone. The temperature might have been plus 6 Celsius but it felt much colder. The painting was a bit of a race against the weather. I had to get it done before the altostratus switched to nimbostratus and rain. I made it with 5 minutes to spare.

Algonquin Spruce Sentinel

I painted from the wooden bridge looking northeast across the flood plain of the South Magnetawan River and the mix of trees - some alive and some dead! It was a beautiful spring day and much too nice to miss. Note the altocumulus in gravity wave patterns. I was very pleased with the resulting sketch of the dead spruce tree.

Magnetawan Morning

On day two of the Nickle Paint-Out we headed to the South Magnetawan River and stopped when theForestry Tower Road got too soft and sloppy. Lawrence was leery of getting his truck stuck in the mud. I painted from the wooden bridge looking southward toward the shaded hillside. The sun was on my left shoulder. It was a beautiful spring day.

Forest Shadows

I don't normally paint looking into the sun, especially across a reflective surface like snow and ice but this was an exception. I liked the shadows that rolled down the snowy slope. I wanted to see if I could capture the moment of the strongly back lit forest. Cirrostratus from the approaching spring storm was already starting to veil the sun.

Spring Marsh - Algonquin

This is the first painting of my spring break-out paint out with Lawrence Nickle. This is on the Rain Lake Road looking northward across the marsh. There was a strong current in the culvert under the road. There was a chilly northwest wind ahead of the ridge of high pressure. It made me think that Lawrence had the right idea painting in his truck. The sun felt warm on my back but it was still chilly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Leave It For Beaver!

The beavers gnaw on hardwoods to wear down their incisors. The tree in the foreground has been the target for several years but was still surviving in spite of the attack. My brother Jim and many others have a hate on for the beaver and their damage to forests. I try to see the bigger environmental picture. There is some good that comes from the beaver dam building and tree cutting along the water's edge. It is also quite futile to battle Mother Nature so I prefer to tolerate these tree attacks and "leave if for the beaver". This is also a take off on the title of the favourite TV show of the 1950's that Jim and I loved to watch. He thought I was the "beave".

Flooded Forest

This is the view looking northwest across the middle provincially significant wetland. It was a blue bird sky. The sounds of birds and wildlife filled the air. Ruffed grouse drumming added the beat to the chip and chirps of smaller birds. Turkey vultures soared overhead with the bald eagle. Ducks buzzed in and about the wetland. Two otters glided down the seasonal stream in front of me without taking any notice of my presence. It was a good day. This forest will be dry by June.

Spring Forest

This is a view of the northeastern part of our forest. It has never been extensively logged and is full of large oak, beech, maple and hickory - even some butternut trees. The open field in the foreground has deep but wet soils and was probably logged to built the homestead buildings which lie a few hundred meters to the south. Cattle grazing has kept the trees from coming back. With our arrival and the absence of the cows, ash trees are emerging throughout this field. I also planted about 500 black walnuts in 2007 but there is no sign of them yet. The emerald green ash borer has been seen in eastern Ontario and these ash trees will be threatened.

Mighty Oak

This is a huge red oak tree on the north side of the provincially significant wetland abutting our building site. My outstretched arms do not even reach half way around this mighty tree. There is abundant scat at the base of this tree from the animals that have used it for food and refuge. This fertilizer has probably helped it reach its enormous girth. It is also surrounded by a defence of prickly ash making it difficult to reach without being scratched.

It was a cool spring day with brisk northerly winds. I was painting looking southerly with the wind on my back but the sun occasionally in my face when it broke through the turbulent stratocumulus cloud. The temperature was supposed to be plus 8 Celsius but it felt cooler! This was my first plein air painting since October. Home building can really occupy your time!