An iconic scene to us islanders, the expansive Howe Sound views from Copper Cove beach in West Vancouver mirror those seen from the ferry en route to Bowen Island from Horseshoe Bay. In my largest painting yet I wanted to portray a scene that needed a large canvas. Howe Sound was the perfect location and an Arbutus tree was the perfect subject! The islands fading into the distance in this painting are (from left to right) Bowen Island, Gambier, Sunshine Coast (mainland), Anvil and Bowyer. The sunlight sparkles dance on the water bringing your eye in to one of Howe Sound’s classic rocky beaches.
The Pacific Arbutus, Pacific Madrone or Madrona, is a species of tree in the family Ericaceae, native to the western coastal areas of North America, from British Columbia to California. The tree often grows in association with Douglas Fir on rocky outcrops in dry coastal areas with excellent drainage.
Arbutus are renowned for their unique peeling bark that displays a wide range of colors from dark rust/red to orange, yellow and shades of green. In spring they bear sprays of small bell-like flowers and in autumn red berries. First Nations peoples eat the berries, but because the berries have a high tannin content they are more often chewed or made into a cider.
Despite being drought tolerant and fast-growing the Pacific Arbutus tree is in decline. This is due mainly to decreasing occurrences of natural forest fires throughout their range. The species relies on fire in large part to clear the dense canopy of Douglas Fir and also helps to sprout the Arbutus seeds. Wet winters in a crowded landscape often cause fungal infections on the leaves which can devastate an already stressed individual.
Construction and development are also contributing to the decline of healthy populations since the tree is extremely sensitive to any disturbance of grade and drainage near the root crown.
2018 – 60″x36″ – Acrylic on Canvas – (Sold)