Maple Sugar Shack, 30×40 inches, acrylic on canvas
Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. In Quebec and Ontario, cold northern climates. The trees store starch in their trunks before winter hits. The starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring. Maple trees are tapped by drilling holes in their trunks and collecting the sap. This is then processed by heating, evaporating the water and leaving concentrated maple syrup. The sugar was first made by indigenous peoples of the North East of North America. The practice was adopted by European settlers who gradually evolved production methods. All the worlds maple syrup comes from Canada or the USA. Quebec is the largest producer responsible for 70% of worlds production. Canadian exports totaled a half a billion dollars!
The syrup is graded on its colour. Sucrose is the prevalent sugar. Maple syrup must be 66% sugar and made exclusively from the Maple Tree. It is a favourite on waffles, pan cakes, French toast or porridge. The early settlers living off the land must have been thrilled to get this inexpensive concentrated form of sugar for their meagre diet. It probably evolved into a source of income if they were smart enough not to chop down all the maple trees.
Maple syrup is emblematic of Canada. It is front and center at most airports as souvenirs of Canada. The sugar maple is depicted on our flag which most people don’t realize. I didn’t make that connection. During the American Civil War maple syrup replaced cane sugar when the southern states formed the confederacy and succeeded from the US government in Washington. Also cane sugar was produced by the slaves in the south and therefore was contrary to the movement to abolish slavery.
The sugar maple tree and the black maple both are tapped for the starch in their sap. Other maples trees produce maple sugar but have lower sugar content or produce a cloudy product.
The Maple Sugar Shack with its pile of wood to burn off the water content in the sap has been celebrated in story and song. It has assumed a romantic air about it as the trees are tapped in the spring and locals are waiting for the end of winter and the snow to melt. In my depiction the Maple trees are the same sugar maple on the Canadian Flag. In many of my Ontario and Quebec pictures I use the flaming scarlet of the leaf in the foreground to give depth. Hot colours coming forward and cool colours receding. There is also a stream moving through the composition to add greater depth to the composition. The S curve is a classic device used to take the eye through adding perspective.
Smoke swirls through the composition adding rythme and movement.
During world war two maple syrup took on importance as food rationing was introduced. Cook books were produced to help people stretch their sugar ration. Since men were recruited into the army to fight in Europe and in the Far East woman took over on the farms. Maple syrup became an alternative source to cane sugar and helped the war effort.
As well as using the Maple Leaf for its primary red coloring I also use the Canadian Flag in my compositions as a focal point. A large rectangle receding to medium size a small rectangle as it recedes in space. Focal points move the eye through the composition a useful device. Art is about emotion so the flag evokes patriotic fervor in people’s imagination as the Stars and Stripes do for Americans. The flag is a symbol of our freedom. Canada is now the #2 most desireable country to live in after Switzerland! We knew that all along but didn’t want the rest of the world to come to that conclusion! However all the new people moving here add to our wealth and diversity.