©Kesler Woodward 2009
Acrylic on canvas
36" x 48" (image)
37 1/2" x 49 1/2" (framed)
Smith Lake, in the 2000-acre arboretum that is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, is one of my favorite places, a place I have painted nearly every year for more than a quarter century. The arboretum, which contains fields, woods, research areas, and a network of trails, is a fantastic asset to the University and the community. Smith Lake and two other, smaller ponds provide habitat for a dozen or more species of migrating waterfowl in the spring and fall. Cross-country ski trails cross all three bodies of water in the winter. The Equinox Marathon trail leads through the forest. Owls call from the trees. In 1992, when the snow and deep cold came so early in September, and stayed, that caribou which normally winter in the foothills of the Alaska Range migrated north into Fairbanks instead, these woods harbored a small band of them all winter long.
Fall is my favorite time around Smith Lake, and every year I find myself walking its shores in late August and early September, marveling at the reflections of the dark spruces in the water, the bright gold leaves of the birches on limbs and the ground, and flocks of swans on the lake itself. This fall, though, I found myself looking up--at the sky. I've been looking into the sun, and upward toward the sky, a lot this last couple of years, and so it's not surprising that I would find inspiration in it here. In the hard white of winter, it's a great delight to go to my studio and paint the brilliant sky and intense colors of fall.