23.5 x 35.5 in | 30 x 90 cm
They could be twins. They could have started as two shoots from the same seed. In any case they certainly have stood together for many years watching their children grow around them. The big oval leaves of a young birch directly in front of them undoubtedly belong to their offspring. The trio is surrounded by Maple trees in early fall colors and framed in the distance by giant Hemlocks. It’s a beautiful neighborhood.
What struck me as an artist was the mood. It was raining and the sun was setting. The combination imparted a reddish glow to everything. In the low contrast light, the leaves seemed not so much to reflect light as to glow from inside. The “deep, dark forest”—a cliché of children’s stories—is meant to be a frightening image, but for me it’s an exciting one. I can understand why the dark forest may have frightened early humans as they huddled for safety in a small clearing. Today, however, most of the forests in the world are gone and we live in an enormous clearing with little islands of forest that are not so very dark or deep. It’s exciting to find one.
In the sunshine the bark of these Yellow Birches shines with a yellow golden color, hence the name “Yellow Birch”. These two were decidedly reddish-brown, partly because they were soaked with rain and partly because of the light at this time of day. Like the white birches their bark peels, but it doesn’t fall easily in papery curls. It stays on the trunk in tight rolls for many years. I enjoyed painting these rolls. It’s tricky to do with a knife. I had to apply the two or three colors and then tap the seam between them with the flat of my knife to blend them.
This deep, dark forest was actually in the Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, Minnesota.