42 x 30 in | 106.7 x 76.2 cm
Tamarack is the name given to these trees by the First Nations People. The botanical name is Larix laricina, or Eastern Larch in English. Although they are one of the most beautiful of trees in North America, they are not very well known. Even some of my Canadian friends asked me what they were, although Larches live in every single Canadian province.
Two features may explain the Tamaracks relative obscurity. To Cross country skiers Tamaracks probably look like a patch of dead spruce or fir because Tamaracks lose their leaves in the fall, a rare characteristic for conifers. In summer, they are probably confused with other conifers. But in autumn they are unmistakable, when they turn brilliant shades of yellow and orange.
They have long flexible twigs with their needle like leaves arranged in little tufts along the twigs. To paint them I loaded the edge of my knife with paint, placed the edge along the twig and the flicked it to the side so that little spikes of paint appeared to shoot out from the twig. Then I went back over and added a pinkish or dark twig in the center.
I tried to make the branches look wispy, as though they would easily bend under the weight of heavy snow, releasing the load rather than breaking, which is just what happens. The range of the Tamarack is almost entirely Canadian. They often live in bogs like the one in my painting. The large flower-like structures in left hand corner are the empty pods of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnate). The brilliant shrubbery in the foreground is some type of Heath. This little Tamarack and its neighbors live in the Luther Marsh, one of southern Ontario’s most significant wetlands.