Roseate Spoonbills in the Mangrove Shallows, Evening Light | Richard Tiberius & Kiry Tiberius

18 x 30 in. | 45.7 x 76.2 cm – oil on panel, painted with knives

Detail image
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Spoonbills feed in shallow water by sweeping their partly opened bill from side to side, snapping it shut when an insect, tiny fish, crab or shrimp touches the inside of the bill.

We saw this pair wading through the shallows between the mangrove islands in the Florida Everglades National Park. Some species of Spoonbills reproduce in large flocks but most species mate with a single partner each breeding season and choose a new partner for the next season. Although we don’t know which of these species we have painted, they do look like a happy couple.

A mangrove is not the name of a specific tree or shrub. It’s a name given to several plants that grow in shallow coastal waters. The red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) is the dominant plant in this painting. Red Mangroves have what are called “prop roots” that grow out of the trunk and into the water. This growth pattern creates shallow water by trapping sand and mud so storms cannot wash it away. And the tangle of roots provides a safe habitat for the tiny organisms that are the Spoonbill’s food.

“Prop roots” are illustrated by the young red mangrove on the right side of the painting. It looks as though it is standing on stilts. In time, this little tree may be the beginning of a new island.

On slightly higher ground, further from the water, the black and white mangroves live. You can see the white mangroves sticking out of the top of the island.

It was a tranquil and beautiful evening. The sun had already set, leaving behind a soft, pink glow to the clouds and reflections in the water as if it were borrowing color from the brilliant pink feathers of the spoonbills.  

Jacques Cartier River, Morning Mist | Richard Tiberius

21.8 x 30 in.  | 55.2 x 154.9 cm – oil on panel, painted with knives

This is my second painting of the Jacques Cartier River based on the early spring trip I took to the Jacques Cartier National Park in Quebec. The combination of golden bark of the Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis) with the dark greens of Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) and Red Spruce (Picea rubens) was irresistible. The low contrast lighting gave the colors a softness that is not present in direct sunlight.

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This phase in a tree’s life lasts no more than a few days each year. Despite the weather—cold, wet and overcast—I was fortunate to be there at that time. Perhaps if I had called the ranger station before booking my flight I would have missed this exceptional period. Besides, my spouse, Joyce, was born and raised in Quebec City and she loved being back home.

The Jacques Cartier river flows through the Jacques Cartier National Park, in Quebec, Canada. I have been to this park before, at roughly the same time, early in May, but at that time the trees were already bursting with new leaves. This time the winter held on longer than usual. Most of the trails were “fermé” (closed).

Stretching Birch (sold) | Richard G. Tiberius

30 x 28 in| 76.2 x 71.1 cm

Whenever I think of birch trees I usually picture thin white poles reflecting into the shores of northern lakes.  But birches, like most plants, can change their shape to take advantage of their situation.  When growing alone, like the tree in this painting, they spread out to take advantage of unimpeded sunlight.

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Looking at this birch, which seems to be stretching out its limbs, I was struck with its similarity to people, who stretch out their arms to enjoy the first rays of a warm spring day.  I love painting birches in early spring when their delicate structure and fine twigs are visible as well as the many colors reflected in their white bark that are usually obscured by leaves.

This birch grows in a region that was once a narrow valley between rugged mountains.  The glacier flattened the mountains and then erosion wore them down into the well-rounded forms that are in the background.  The silt created a flat, boggy delta.  Shrub Dogwoods and Willows were among the first plants to colonize the delta and still dominate it.   Birches, Elms, Red Maples and Willows followed the shrubs.  The graceful trunk of an Elm that grew here, before the Dutch Elm disease killed it, is still visible on the right.  It is covered in vines.  The land will have to become much dryer before other trees will join these early starters.

Paper birches (Betula papyrifera) can be seen throughout Canadian forests, in the very Northern United States and throughout the high regions of the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.  This particular one grows in Parc Cape Tournmount, in Quebéc.