"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Monday, 22 September 2008

Leaf of the Day: The Quaking and All Seeing Aspen

Just one little aspen leaf came back with me, from the Grand Canyon. The Quaking Aspen Populus tremuloides is so pretty and the picturesque name certainly describes these fluttering delicate leaves that were shimmering in the breeze and catching the evening sun when we returned exhausted from walking the trails of the North Rim.



We only had one day so did not attempt anything that went down and up, just walking along the rim was enough. The views are dizzying and the Canyon is truly magnificent. There is a stillness here which must surely soothe the most savage breast. I was struck by how silent it all was, even the handful of visitors were quiet, watching the big turkey buzzards tilt and glide on the thermals way below. I hadn't realised that this is a hidden valley, like the beautiful Painted Desert we saw before, you are almost upon it before it reveals its beauty. Secret and hidden from immediate view, what an astonishing sight it must have been to early travellers.
You can look at all the pictures, see all the films and read all the travel books but you have to be there to understand just what a majestic landscape this is. All those magnificent lansdcape paintings by Bierstadt, Moran, and Church that I had seen some years ago in the "American Sublime" exhibition in London now made more sense.



I have not been to the south side but the north rim is thickly forested with spruce, firs pines and aspens. and the brilliant silver white trunks of the aspen trees set against the blue sky was striking.



The quaking of the leaf is caused by the flattened ribbon like stem of the leaves, which allows them to twist and turn in the wind and the trunks have a strange leaf scar markings which are described as "eyes" and once you notice them there is a odd feeling of walking in a sighted forest.



But then the day was getting late when we were walking amongst these strange trees, low light and fatigue and imagination are not good companions in amongst a deserted forest.

My only sketch today is this little watercolour.I have been busy sorting out paints and pigments..more of that tomorrow, with hopefully a pencil study of the leaf.
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Aspen Leaf


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