A Brush with Henschel: Fireweed

Loacal artist Gordon Henschel shares his love for wildflowers.

  • Aug. 16, 2012 7:00 a.m.

My wife, Ann and I love gardening, mixing the veggie plants with all sorts of flowers. In the front of the gallery is a brilliant display of nasturtiums that seed themselves each year and provide an addition to our salads. I enjoy them all, hanging baskets, potted plants of every kind and even the dandelions and buttercups on the lawn!

These all pale into insignificance, though, because of my infatuation with wildflowers. It all starts off very slowly in the spring with the salmonberry and elderberry blossoms, gravitating slowly to dazzling displays of yellow Broom juxtaposed with the blues of Lupins, Columbine along the rivers and creeks, followed by daisies and thimbleberry blossoms everywhere!

In late July and August the annual display is surpassed by a flower that has not been given a name that gives homage to its beauty, the Fireweed. I have had a longstanding love affair with this fiery beauty, painting it every summer for 38 years.

Back in 1979, when large clear-cuts were still permitted, I painted, in oils, entire valleys that were bathed in pinks, mauves and reds, depending on how the light hit them. Each year I painted with hot colours, sometimes in intense heat and other times on misty days, but always with a passion that only a lover can possess.

One of my favourite spots was a clear-cut along Nimpkish Lake with picture postcard views of a hillside covered with fireweed and the lake in the background; however, these kinds of spots are short-lived since the fireweed plant only survives as long as it has open sunlight. Once the new growth begins, it begins its demise. Each year I have to go on a search for new clear-cuts!

In this painting the hillside upon which the stump and fireweed exist is above Theimer Lake. I did this painting from sketches and photos I had from two years ago. Wanting to revive my feeling for this spot, I drove out there last week to find the road had been de-activated through destruction of the bridge that had carried me across the creek. I back-packed my way across the creek and up the hill only to find that the young trees were de-activating my fireweed! Oh well, on to another clear-cut!

Just Posted

Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department appoints deputy chief

Port McNeill Fire Chief Dean Tait has appointed 10+ year firefighter veteran… Continue reading

Port McNeill in Focus: Childcare Availability Crisis a Good News/Bad News Story

On average, childcare across the country is unavailable, unaffordable, and the quality varies.

Notice of change of operator for Mount Waddington transit services

The Regional District of Mount Waddington (RDMW) and BC Transit have received… Continue reading

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

Canada’s G7 goal on development: luring private capital to poor nations

G7 finance and international development ministers convene in British Columbia next week

Congressional leaders to review information on Russia probe

Trump said he will “demand” that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign

Canadians stranded in Cuba after plane crash returning home

Montreal-based travel agency says hundreds of Canadians who were stuck in Cuba since a plane crash last week are returning home

As summit looms, North Korean media return to angry tone

North Korean media are stepping up their rhetorical attacks on South Korea and joint military exercises with the United States

Maple Leafs lose another executive after parting ways with assistant GM

The Toronto Maple Leafs say club and assistant general manager Mark Hunter have mutually agreed to part ways.

SAR scaling back in Kilmer search, but friends will keep looking

Search for 41-year-old Cobble Hill dad hits six-day mark

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

Most Read