Monday, August 19, 2013

Blackfoot Beaver

I thought it was a bit shameful that I didn't make it out to paint very often this year, what with the cycling and all, so I decided to remedy that by going out to Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Park.  It didn't look like it was going to be an auspicious trip.  I started late, and I got a bit lost on the way, second-guessing myself and then third-guessing and then getting stuck waiting for a train.  I finally made it there only to discover that I was at the wrong entrance, but it was too late to remedy that.  While walking I realized that it was very hot and humid and I didn't feel very good at all.

I started out along one of the trails looking for a lake, and then wasted time trying to find a viewpoint from which I could actually SEE any lake.  The water level was so high that it was puddling around the bottom of the heavy brush surrounding the lake and I couldn't work my way around to any area that was dry enough to sit on that didn't have trees or bushes in the way.

I eventually gave up, went down the other trail and after a bit of exploring I discovered this shallow bit of water, surrounded by reeds and thorn bushes.  There was an old wooden platform to sit on but I found a dry spot right on the edge of the water.

After I had set up and spend some time painting there, I heard a splash.  I was hoping for waterfowl but instead I got this beaver.  It swam out a few meters away from me and then spent quite a long time chewing on the stick, stripping it of bark.  It left, but came back some minutes later, dragged the stick away, then came back and dug another stick out of the muddy lake bottom.  My whole time painting was punctuated by periods of industrious beaver chewing.

It is interesting how similar beavers look to capybaras when they are in the water.

Anyway, I got everything laid in while I was there, and then finished it up over a couple days at home.  I got some really nice close-ups of the beaver with my camera.  I really like how the logs on the left turned out and the backlit grasses.  The bottom of the painting is not so successful, I may end up cropping an inch off it.

But anyway -- the first decent painting of 2013!  I believe this is my 77th painting.  Hopefully I can get closer to 100 by the end of the year.

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