River of Golden Aspen, Colorado
Part 3. Something Beautiful
Last week’s blog told the nature lore surrounding Quaking Aspen that were my inspiration for today’s painting: River of Golden Aspen. Not a closeup of leaves and trunks, however, the painting is a bird’s eye view of the forested hillside from some distance. To do the final painting I waited until I was back at home months later. I worked from my watery sketches and visual memory. By then I had seen more than one flow of gold coming down a mountainside in the Rockies, and these also helped me remember the images.
Now it’s that time of year in the Rockies once again. I wish I were there, driving around to locate those vibrant groves. Aspen colors are not the whole show either. About the time the aspen leaves have blown away, the narrow–leaf cottonwoods turn a bright cadmium yellow and orange. We spotted gorgeous cottonwoods along the Uncompaghre River out of Montrose that year, their V–shaped branching patterns lifting up masses of yellow foliage. Cottonwoods like water, so look for them near year–round water sources. Often they are surrounded by Rocky Mountain White Oaks, also called Gambel Oak, those shrubby, shorter trees that contribute a fall palette of burnished oranges, maroons, copper, and bronze. Gorgeous.
Did I say I love fall? The colored leaves? Fresh, crisp air? This is my favorite time of year. Here in the Mississippi River Valley fall colors are showing up everywhere. We have Upper Midwest deciduous forest, so it’s a feast to the eye with the maples, oaks, honey locust, basswood, ash, sycamore, aspen, birch, black locust, and other trees that I don’t know yet. There’s always something beautiful. I think I’ll grab my jacket and head out the door. Want to come along?
This painting illustrates my memoir: The Road to Beaver Park, Painting, Perception, and Pilgrimage, by Janice E. Kirk.