One of the most popular subjects in my 34 years of full-time painting has been the forests of North Vancouver Island. The first commercial offset lithograph print we did was of a huge old-growth tree. Named “The Cedar”, it won an award and was published in a book about B.C. artists. The original 22 x 30 inch watercolour is still around, hanging in a friend’s home in Port McNeill.
The image you see here is a 24×36-inch acrylic painting on deep canvas, currently hanging in Impressions Gallery in Campbell River for the month of March. It is, roughly, the 80th forest scene I have done.
My love for painting forest interiors goes back a long, long way. When I was very young and the spring school break came along, my father would take me along on his trapline where we would stay in a very small log cabin for the entire break. The trapline was along the Manitoba/Ontario border, where the environment was a multitude of lakes surrounded by granite rock ridges covered in pine trees.
I was mesmerized while the trees created a symphony of wonderful sounds as the spring winds wafted through them. I felt safe among them; sheltered, as I watched my father out on the spring ice working his traps for the then-plentiful beaver.
I still have those same feelings today when I sit in a grove of old trees; a peacefulness and safety that is hard to explain (why would I want to?). Maybe as I age I can empathize more with some of the old timers still alive in this patch of forest. Looking down at the roots reaching for nourishment in the soil, I realize that this is the same soil from which I get my food!
This time of year, as the sun begins to be able to penetrate the dimness among the foliage, is a good time to paint some of these sunlit patches. This painting was sketched along the Beaver Lake Trail at the Port Alice turnoff. The name of the painting tells the story: “Aging with Dignity”.
Gordon Henschel owns an art gallery in Nimpkish Heights. www.henschel.ca