A Rare Little Gem

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Imagine that you’re standing at the edge of a vast stand of cattails, about to plunge in. If, like me, you’ve done such a thing, you know what a claustrophobia-inducing experience this can be, with the added excitement of treacherous footing. That you can’t see, because ¬†cattails are in your face. And if, like me, you are shorter than the cattails, you also can’t see where you’re headed. But a leading ecologist from the Forest Preserve District assures you there is a fen hiding in the midst of all those cattails. I am filled with awe when I think of Ken Klick venturing out the first time, knowing what should be there and seeking to find whether it was. Of course, he’s a heck of a lot more knowledgeable than I am. Plus he’s considerably taller!

So after plunging through cattails for several minutes, up to our knees (well, past mine!) in water, we felt a slight rise. Fens are wetlands that are fed by mineral-rich groundwater. As I understand it, in this doughnut-shaped area in the midst of the cattails, this water wells up from underground. The water and soil are different here, and support a suite of extremely rare plants. The cattails gave way slightly, and like a miracle, there were the plants we sought. Huh. I’m still mystified, to tell you the truth. And grateful, because had Ken not taken me out there I would have never seen these plants. To mark the occasion I’ve painted this bog rosemary, not recorded in our county for decades before Ken’s spotting of it here.

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Patterns of Light and Dark

Dead River TreesPatterns of Light and Dark

 

I’m excited to share this latest painting with you. It was inspired by a walk I took along the Dead River at Illinois Beach State Park. I’ve always been drawn to the view I see peeking between the branches of trees, and this trio of trees really spoke to me. It was early in the year, before things had begun to green back up. A skin of ice is still on the river.

This is a large canvas~ 30″x40″, so laying in the layers of color was a satisfying exercise of big sweeping brush strokes. I usually start my paintings with an under painting in a complementary color and that is what I did here. As subsequent layers of color go on early layers peek through and this adds energy to the painting. Digital photographs don’t always capture this effect well but it worked with this one.