Our last day in Alaska was a busy one. We saw the Alaskan pipeline and panned for gold. We learned about the area and how Fairbanks was settled. In the afternoon, we went on a paddleboat – the Discovery 3 — and visited a reproduction of a native village: Athabascan. The young women who led our group were natives and not only discussed how their ancestors survived in such harsh conditions, but how they are combining western ways with their culture. It was fascinating. I particularly liked how the top of their roofs were covered with dirt and they encouraged grasses to grow up there. Dirt was a good insulator.
On our various Alaska tours we also learned why a lot of the trees don’t get very big around. The permafrost keeps the trees from getting all the nutrients they need. The might end up tall, but very thin. One result is the natives didn’t use planks to make their homes, they striped the trees of bark and made log cabins.
The black spruces (there is one in my painting, the second one in on the right) look particularly stressed by the permafrost. The one in my painting was a fairly healthy one, but usually, as one guide told us, they look like Charlie Brown Christmas trees.
This piece is oil on cradled board, 6″ x 4″ and was painted with a palette knife.
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