Red Alders




Red Alders
oil on birch panel, 36″ x 48″

In early spring, the Red Alders’ catkins burst out. Arriving ahead of the leaves, they cover the trees with a glorious pinky-red for two or three weeks, before opening and turning golden with pollen. In their red stage, they provide me with an inspiring subject which I have returned to often over the years. On the slopes of Mt. Sullivan the alders grow, filling in the interesting abstract shapes created by the recent clear-cuts.

For this diptych, I had a large amount of paint set out on my two glass-topped tabourets, and I plunged in with gusto, applying the rich saturated colours with my beloved painting knives; my “fighting irons”, as I call them. Not because painting is a battle (or not usually) but because it takes a fair amount of energy and stamina to get that much paint up onto a fairly large surface in a short time. Small adjustments can be made later, but 95% of the work is done alla prima, thus “wet-in-wet”, so I have about three days before the paint starts to become unworkable. When I paint with brushes, this never seems too demanding, but the sheer amount of paint to mix and place while still wet when using knives is a real, if joyful, challenge.

back to whole painting