Cardinal and Wild Apples
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1987, 12” x 18”, acrylic
In a sense, this is a painting of wild apples which also happens to have a cardinal in it. I actually conceived the idea many years ago as one piece. In spite of, or perhaps because of, the cardinal's popularity, I have limited myself to doing very few cardinal paintings. I have done a winter cardinal, a spring cardinal and a female cardinal (after all, one-half of the cardinals in the world are female). I cannot decide whether this is a summer or an autumn cardinal. Perhaps I will consider it late summer since I already have an idea for a painting of an autumn cardinal.

I chose apples to divert your eye from the cardinal, which is a blatant bird to say the least. It is one of my favourite birds, but it is very obvious, so I wanted to give it some competition with a few spectacular and juicy apples.

These apples were growing on my favourite apple tree in Ontario. This is a unique tree producing fruit unlike any I have tasted -- sweet, aromatic, crisp, juicy and almost totally lacking in sourness . . . just to my taste.

All domestic apple trees come from grafting, not seeds. Every McIntosh apple comes from generations of twigs grafted from one tree on Mr. McIntosh's farm near Toronto. It was a genetic sport or freak which had great success. My tree is also a genetic freak, but it will remain forever wild with its unsprayed and blemished fruit. I am reminded of the lyrics of singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell's song, The Big Yellow Taxi. . . "give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees."