28 x 23.75 in | 71.1 x 60.3 cm
The dark trunks of these grand old pines and the shadows they cast on the shrubs in the foreground formed a dramatic frame for the scene. The valley stretching out below created a striking bright window provided by pale yellow tops and white trunks of birch trees. As I stood on the edge of the bluff looking out I could see beyond the valley to the next hill and the one beyond that. The yellow colors of the birches faded to dusty rose and then pink in the distance.
The composition required the pine trunks to be very dark. Dark colors alone were insufficient. I used the side of my knife, laying each strip of bark on separately until they formed a pattern of little ridges that trapped the light. Then I lightly dragged the knife over these ridges to create the mauve and green overtones to depict lichen and reflected light. The result would look rather stark were it not for the riot of color in the foreground provided by the Viburnum shrubs that turn multi colored in the fall. Each leaf seems to be able to turn color independently. The birch leaves, too, range in color from butter yellow to orange and ochre tones, but the effect is more subtle.
The “white” in the name White Birch is obvious, although the botanical name refers to another aspect of their bark, namely its papery texture (Betula paperifera). As for the White Pines (Pinus strobes), the whitish lines on the leaves (needles) give them a shiny whitish appearance, but you surely can’t see this in a painting. I made the Viburnum leaves egg shaped with a rather long point to distinguish them from another species that looks very similar. These are “Downey Arrow-wood” (Viburnum Rafinesquianum) for Constantine Samuel Rafinesque (1783-1840) naturalist and author of many new plant names.