30 x 36 in | 76.2 x 91.4 cm
The longer I looked into this pure stand of Black Spruce the more trees I could see. Faint images appeared through the mist as my eyes grew accustomed to the gloom. In this wilderness I would surely hear a large animal long before I could see it. Perhaps I’m giving away my city roots when I admit that a true wilderness excites me not only because of its awesome beauty but also because of the tinge of fear that it evokes. In this painting I tried to capture the mysterious depth by painting many layers.
Lumbermen have told me that its cousins, the White and Red Spruces, yield better timber. Landscapers too, prefer the brighter, longer needles and perky branches of its cousins to the dull needles, stringy twigs, and short, droopy branches of the Black Spruce. In the bogs the bark and twigs are dotted with soft and flaky lichen. In fact, if you squeeze through a stand of Black Spruce your sweater will be covered with flakes. It doesn’t seem like an attractive picture.
But when millions of these wispy twigs circle around the dark trunks in thin arcs like cotton candy they create a mood that hits you like a freight train. The Black Spruce is the master at expressing the feeling of the northern bogs—deep, primitive, and utterly mysterious. Without peaks or valleys to orient us, the bog frustrates our human need to orient ourselves.
Black spruce (Picea mariana) forests can be seen in every province in Canada, in Alaska and in the northeastern United States. It is the Provincial tree of Newfoundland and Labrador. This particular forest grows in Le Parc de la Jacques-Cartier, in Québec.