Shiny New Leaves  |  Richard G. Tiberius
Shiny New Leaves

47.6 x 35.4 in | 121 x 90 cm

One of the reasons that I love painting natural scenes is their complexity. My timing was perfect to enjoy the complexity in this grove of young Trembling Aspen trees (Populus tremuloides). Since the new growth was not advanced enough yet to cover the twigs and branches, I could see both the structure of the trees and the leaves at the same time. The striking variation in the color of the branches and trunks added to the complexity as well as the astounding color range in the leaves and twigs. New twigs and buds were brilliant red. The leaves were brilliant yellow and orange with red to purple accents. I called the painting Shiny New Leaves because of the shiny surfaces of these new leaves.

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The Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) that you see peeking out under the Aspens is a very undesirable alien from Eurasia. It completely shuts out the light, preventing new seedlings of native plants from sprouting. I don’t like painting invasive non-native species but compositionally it worked out well. The dark green leaves of the Buckthorns poking out between the Aspens offered a perfect contrast to the Aspens. The artist won over the naturalist in this case.

In a week all the leaves of these trees will be green and their shiny surfaces will have become matte. The green color of leaves comes from chlorophyll, the factory that turns the energy from sunlight into chemical energy, which plants use to make sugar. The production of chlorophyll cannot keep pace with the carotenes and other chemicals in the leaf that give us the bright colors. I have no idea why the tips of new twigs are so red. 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 grove lives in a conservation area near Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada.

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