A Gordon Henschel original painting.

A Brush with Henschel: Lakeside Bouquet

“This spot, above Nimpkish Lake was a painter’s dream”

Every summer for the last 40 years I have become a kindred spirit with the Honeybee which is drawn, magnet-like, to the Fireweed blossoms that are so prevalent in North Vancouver Island; especially in logged areas or, less commonly, in burned out places. It prefers open spaces and grows up to five feet tall in regions that were freshly logged the previous year until new growth, frequently alders, envelope them in shade.

When I painted them thirty years ago, whole valleys of North Island were laid bare,with logging, resulting in an incredible show of Fireweed the following year. I remember painting views of the Nimpkish Valley from the highway in which the painting was mostly the colours of the Fireweed, many, many shades of red, pink, mauve, etc., etc. A few years later, it all changed to the greens of the alders and willows; but then, next year, on to some new clear-cuts. Other kindred spirits were the apiarists, who moved their bees to Fireweed locations. The Fireweed plant, whose flowers have an extremely high nectar content, is very desirable by beekeepers. The trailers, on which the hives are shipped, have an electric fence on their circumference to protect the hives from roving wildlife, mostly bears.

Often when I’m painting out there in “the toolies” I become aware that there is a trailer full of honey bees nearby, with a few of them buzzing around my head, often checking out the colours on my palette.

The painting shown here, “Lakeside Bouquet” is a good example of how the passing of the seasons affect how and when I can find the fireweed in the most desired places. This spot, above Nimpkish Lake was a painter’s dream, with the trees, lake and the mountains as a background. I was able to drive a small logging road to many of my views and had my car and my coffee right beside me. BUT then the alders kept growing until I had to find another Fireweed view. Also, I failed to mention, I got older! Oh, well, enjoy the painting. It is one of my personal fireweed favourites.

Comments: email: henschel@island.net or website: www.henschelfinearts.com

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