36 x 36 in | 91.4 x 91.4 cm
Early spring is a magical time in the mountains. The new leaves are still too small to obscure the graceful structure of the trees. At this time of year trees are furthest from the simple image of a tree that we all drew as children—a green circle perched on a stick. In spring trees appear to be veiled in leaves.
I once read that Aspen groves such as these are actually clones—they are all genetically identical—because they all grew from the roots of a single parent. If that’s true then the bark of every tree in the clone is genetically identical to the next. I was thinking about all this as I painted each trunk a unique color, which I mixed separately on my palette board. The differences are subtle but, if I shift my glance quickly from one to another and back again, the differences pop out. Shadows, reflections, mosses, weathering patterns, and probably many other influences account for the differences.
The Trembling Aspen gets its English and botanical names from the pitching movement of its leaves, even in light winds. New leaves, such as those in this painting, don’t shake. Full grown leaves shake because their long, flat leaf stalks make the leaves tip and flutter when the wind puts pressure on the leaf.
Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides) can be found in all the forested lands of Canada, Northeastern United States and Alaska, except for the West Coastal region. This particular grove lives in Jasper National Park, in Alberta.