Friday, January 28, 2011

Hoarfrost

Lake Waban, Wellesley College is on the opposite shore
I walked around Lake Waban several days ago. Another snowstorm was predicted and I knew this would make the path impassable. The heavy Boston snows this winter have constricted my sketch outings so, with my art supplies in hand and a few dollars in my pocket I headed to the lake which is a short walk from my house.

There's a large wetland area which had the only open water. It was congested with ducks, Canada Geese and a few swans. There are cottonwood and alder trees here. Their willowy young branches painting the gray skies with a cheerful promise of leaves and nesting opportunities for the migratory birds.

I took these crude photos with my cell phone. They remind me of the French Impressionist painters Alfred Sisley and Camille Pisarro
The trees in the wetland were covered with hoarfrost. It was so beautiful (and I was getting very cold) that I couldn't attempt a drawing. I guess I didn't have the nerve. I'll try again before the winter is over.


the white trees in the middle distance are coated with hoarfrost

branches are festooned with fine dendritic ice crystals


Hoarfrost is caused by moist air moving over cold surfaces like tree branches and stalks of sere aquatic plants. You find it in many other places but there needs to be this gentle flow of moist air. The ice crystals form on these surfaces. The crystals are lacy and very delicate. Imagine the branches covered in snowflakes. It's as if the snowflakes come from the trees!

I did do one drawing of the young trees. I need to return to this spot.

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