[Aleta Karstad]

was born (1951) and grew up in Guelph, Ontario, but lived as a girl in Wisconsin and Georgia as her father studied wildlife pathology. Her formal art training was at Central Technical School, Toronto, where she studied watercolour under Doris McCarthy. In 1972 she began work in biological illustration at the National Museum of Canada.

Aleta's books (Canadian Nature Notebook (1979), Wild Seasons Daybook (1985), North Moresby Wilderness (1990) and A Place to Walk (1995) have been drawn from her illustrated natural history journals.

Since 1995 she has been teaching her method of combining drawings, watercolours, and lettering, on archival-quality materials to make a permanent record of a place and time.

Aleta Karstad
Wild Fruits


We hereby extend warmest Seasons Greetings to all our friends, and invite everyone to "Wild Fruits," an exhibit and sale of recent and not-so-recent plein air (and indoors) paintings by Aleta, including original watercolours and oils, cards, and Giclee art prints.

[Poison Ivy at the Upper Garden]

Upstairs at Bishops Mills Natural History Centre,
30 Main St, Bishops Mills

[south end of Bishops Mills Arts Space)

The show will be open on Thursday and Saturday afternoons,
or by appointment, until further notice

Call 258-3107 (lab) or 258-7843 (residence) to set up a visit.

For directions follow the map

30 Main St., Bishops Mills

on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain 44* 52'N 75* 42'W
RR#2, Oxford Station, Ont. K0G 1T0 Canada

BMNHC page (not recently updated)
Aleta's main paintings page

Aleta Karstad

CATALOGUE: Inadequate data for some of the landscape paintings reflects the frenzy of our lives over the past decade, and we will strive to repair the lapses in the documentation of these paintings and not repeat such failures in the future ---. fws (compiler)

Chute Creek Trail. (9 June 1992 - Chute Creek Trail, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia) -- framed giclée print of journal page $225

Robin in Manitoba Maple. Turdus migratorius. Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Bishops Mills: Schuelers. 44.87156N 75.70095W, 27 May 1994 TIME: 1811. AIR TEMP: 15C, sunny. HABITAT: rural village, 2 m up in pollared Acer negundo; 2 were dead in nest, 1 seen fledged, 1 missing previously. This is the nest in the pollared Manitoba Maple, being used for the third time. The adults have not been particularly scared of us this year, but perhaps not as bold as last year. Until yesterday there were 4 young in the nest, so we suppose that 3 may have fledged. The dead one in the nest is very near fledging in development. (the second dead one was on the other side of the crotch, and was only noticed a few days later). -- framed giclée print of 16 May 1994 journal page $225

Almonte Spring. (spring 1993. Ontario: Lanark County: Ramsay: Almonte, Highway 44 at Mississippi River 45.22613N 76.19789W mill dam falls of river in town) painted from the bridge on a cold windy spring day with snow blowing up under the umbrella. -- oil on canvas $300.

At Pioneer Road Bridge. (autumn 2003. Ontario: Grenville County: Wolford: Middle Creek 1 km S Snowdons Corners, . 44.84334N 75.74996W) HABITAT: slow creek, Cattail/Carex marsh, Willow-dominated bank -- oil on canvas (sold).
New Jersey Salt-marsh. New Jersey: Cumberland County: Bircham Farm, 39.33877N 75.01542W, 8 January 2002. A view of a Sheep pasture, looking over the sluice ditch toward a dyke crested by Phragmites against shadowed forest and across an unseen marsh. This is the last dyked farm in New Jersey, maintained by the elderly Bircham Twins. -- oil on canvas $250.

Cornwall across the St Lawrence. New York: Wilson Hill, 23 June 2002 -- oil on canvas $150.

Ice Melt -- Rideau River at Kemptville. spring 1994. Looking west to the sunset from the north shore of the river across Beckett's Landing. -- oil on canvas $150.

Winter Hare Tracks. Thuja occidentalis & Lepus americanus (1999. Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: 0.5 km SSE Bishops Mills 44.86842N 75.69838W). oil on canvas $250

Delicious Evening Snow. The only indoors oil of the winter of 1993-1994, through a window, a week after the first big snowfall of the Winter. Sudden cold froze the wet snow on the branches as a base for further layers. Aleta was recovering from the flu, and was unable to go outside, but the lucious transformation of backyard Manitoba Maples by snow and pink evening light and blue shadows was impossible to resist, and she painted it over the kitchen sink. (30 December 1993. Acer negundo (Manitoba Maple). Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Bishops Mills: S side (Schuelers) 44.87156N 75.70095W) -- oil on canvas $175.

Rock Crevice Snow Drift. "As I approached the late afternoon cliff and entered its shadow, I heard the dripping and trickling of meltwater over the ice that sheathes the broad bulging foreheads of granite overhead. I was impressed by a wind-carved drift, by a cleft in the mossy, lichened granite. Within the cleft a frozen trickle is the small grey sculpture of a waterfall." (22 February 1994, Ontario: Leeds County: Elizabethtown: Highway 2 at Hillcrest, 44.55644N 75.73132W) -- oil on board $150.

Ice Fishing at Arnprior. March 1994 TIME: circa 17h00. Ontario: Renfrew County: Arnprior: Ottawa River. With temperatures just above freezing, the nearshore ice is softening into a reticulation of slush and snow. The huts will have to come off the river soon, but today there is a lot activity under a late afternoon overcast. -- oil on canvas $175.

Apple Tree in Drought. (Malus sylvestris, summer 2001. Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: 0.35 km SSE Bishops Mills, shallow-soil limestone oldfield 44.86993N, 75.69978W). The drought of 2001was so severe that both leaves and most of the fruit fell from this tree in mid-summer. -- oil on board $350.

Oyster Mushrooms at the Cheese Factory Site. Pleurotus ostreatus, abundant in fruit, foraged, Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Bishops Mills, Middle Creek bridge. (44.87423N 75.70516W) 29 November 2005 TIME: 1325-1338. AIR TEMP: 17C, light rain, windy. HABITAT: riffles of slow creek at bridge in rural village; ca 10 kg harvested from Acer negundo (Manitoba Maple) on bank, 0-7 m above water. The widest cap was 28 cm across. This was about 75% of the total on the tree -- a huge crop, painted by Aleta, where this species hasn't been seen before, though this tree has been dying back, and supporting less Hypsizygus since the 1998 ice storm.-- oil on canvas (sold)

Poison Ivy at the Upper Garden. Ontario's sprawling Poison Ivy is called Toxicodendron radicans var. rydbergii, though it's not clear if the climbing vs nonclimbing forms should be recongnized as varieties, subspecies or species. Here it is thickly clustered with the whitish berries that are an important food for Birds and small Mammals, in a grown-over sandy oldfield between an Aspen plantation and a Prickly Ash thicket (autumn 2004, Ontario: Grenville County: 0.3 km SSE Bishops Mills. 44.86977N 75.69911W) -- oil on canvas $325.

Rhubarb 2001 -- Deep stirring from spring warmth...
through damp black loam
ragged with old leaf scraps
and laced with yellow grass pierced with new green blades,
glossy pink knobs thrust slowly upward.

The rosy skin of a slowly swelling sprout splits
over a wrinkled green
baby fist of a leaf
and ruffled, the leaf unfolds among others
on stout ruby Rhubarb stems.

Grey bird perches on the tip of an Apple branch
dipping its tail
and announcing Fee-beee!

(Rheum rhaponticum.12 April 2001. Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Bishops Mills: S side (Pipers House) 44.87156N 75.70095W) -- oil on canvas $110.

This Year's Rhubarb (2005). Rheum rhaponticum. 1 clump herb, sprout, cultivated, Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Bishops Mills:S side (Pipers House) 44.87156N 75.70095W 22 April 2005 TIME: 1700-1900. AIR TEMP: 15, overcast, calm; painting of sprouts under the Transparent Apple tree. 18:25 Temperature feels like it is falling fast, and a few minutes later a breeze springs up and I am chilled. 19h00 stopped painting and came inside. -- oil on canvas $350.

Rhubarb 2003....on the morning of the day that it had to be hung with my fellow artists' work, I finally finished it and put it in the frame that Keith had made for me from barn board, I got rave comments from my fellow artists, and Jennie takes the credit, because she had "forced" me to use the biggest canvas that day. I love the rhubarb subject because it is so nearly abstract, and so richly coloured. (Rheum rhaponticum.12 April 2001. Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Bishops Mills: S side (Pipers House) 44.87156N 75.70095W) -- oil on canvas $450.

Fisher. Martes pennanti. 1 adult, water colour, specimen. Canada: Ontario: Grenville County: Wolford: Co Road 15, 1.9 km SSW Carleys Corner. 44.85010N 75.81459W. 26 February 1998 TIME: 0700; found by Stew Hamill -- framed giclée print of watercolour $195 ...watercolour $850.

Yellowlegs. Tringa melanoleuca. 1 adult, female?, DOR, Ontario: Grenville County: Augusta: Diamond Rd/Kempville Crk, S of Co 18/Branch Rds.44.82760N 75.67638W. 21 April 2005 TIME: 1030, COLLECTED BY: Bob Woolham, HABITAT: slow creek, crkside meadows, Ash forest, adjacent farms; wing chord 186 mm; little fat, apparently female -- certainly no large testes present. I decided not to show the yellow legs because I couldn't paint them as soon as I got the bird. I can do eyes after they are sunken somewhat, by manipulating them to determine their original shape, colour, and I also use what I have learned in painting other bird eyes. But the colour of soft tissues must be done immediately -- because they fade! However, the delicacy of bill, the expression of the face, and that exquisitely edged wing were what charmed me. The legs were indeed yellow --they had charming little black nails. But in a way, they would have taken attention from the head and wing --or so I told myself after the yellow had begun to fade. -- framed giclée print of watercolour $165 ...watercolour $450.

Umbra limi from the Iron Bridge. The Mudminnow that was caught in a minnow trap under the Limerick Road (44.86089N 75.67930W) on 1 January 1987, and was painted as it lived all winter in an aquarium, is now specimen CMNFI 87-0027.1 at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Umbra limi, the "Mud Shadow," is ubiquitous in the swampy reaches of Kemptville Creek. Many of them stay in the headwaters through the winter; while other fish drift downstream to more oxygen-rich water, Umbra respire by gulping air and absorbing oxygen through their swim bladders.-- framed giclée print of watercolour $65.

Shadow that lives without air
Shadow that lives in the mud
Shadow that lives in the ice
Show me your slow success where others drift away

County Road 18 Maple. (Acer saccharum, autumn 2003, Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Co Road 18 at Deans, 1 km NNE Bishops Mills. 44.87680N 75.69571W) This tree, survivor of the widening of CoRd18 in the 1970's, burning of the adjacent barn in the 1990's, and the icestorm of 1998, fell to the Counties road crew the year after it was painted. --. oil on canvas $250.

Showy Ladyslippers at Purden Bog. Cypripedium reginae: abundant herb in fen/Thuja swamp in mature mixed forest, Aleta sat on the boardwalk and painted the display, which is as spectacular as reported, though mostly past peak bloom. (5 July 2002. Ontario: Lanark County: Purden Conservation Area, boardwalk, 9.5 km NE Elphin 44.99222N 76.54566W) --. oil on canvas $250.

Inside the Bitter Red Apple Tree. Malus sylvestris. Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Bitter Red Apple Tree, .1 km SSW Bishops Mills. 44.87128N 75.70134W HABITAT: small Apple tree in shallow-soil oldfield on limestone plain; this is the tree with red slightly bitter fruit. summer 2000 -- oil on canvas $325.

Iron Bridge Loosestrife: Lythrum salicaria 1998. Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: South Branch Creek/Limerick Road, 44.85999N 75.67929W -- oil on board. $150

Limerick Pink Ladyslipper. Cypripedium acaule (Moccasin Flower).in bloom on sandy needle-floor clearing between Pine plantation & Thuja woods; 5 blooms, 4 small plants without blooms. The general ground cover in the clearing is sparse Maianthemum canadense, and some Hieraceum (shown in the foreground of the painting). There is also a dump of 23 old tires, and a fire-ring with burned tires, beer bottles, and melted plastic in it (8 June 2001 TIME: 1935-2121 Ontario: Grenville County: N.Grenville: Limerick Forest/1.0 km W Mc Reynolds. 44.88510N 75.64454W) -- oil on canvas $685.

Baxter Looosestrife. Lythrum salicaria 16 July 2001. Ontario: Ottawa-Carleton Region: Baxter Conservation Area boardwalk, 45.09665N 75.63320W -- oil on canvas $175.

Brassils Creek Flowing. 6 October 2005. Aleta and Valerie Kirkwood painted Brassil's Creek in Burritts Rapids (Ontario: Ottawa-Carleton Region: Rideau: Brassils Creek/Dwyer Hill Rd 44.98500N 75.80136W, shallow limestone bedrock/rubble creek) -- oil on canvas $225.

Limerick Road Pinicola Female. Pinicola enucleator (Pine Grosbeak). Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Limerick Rd 4 km E Bishops Mills, gravel road through Red Maple swamp forest, 44.87544N 75.65289W. 25 November 2005 TIME: 1345. AIR TEMP: -4C, sunny, breezy. COLLECTED BY: Frederick W. Schueler, Aleta Karstad Schueler Field#: 2005/192/h. Female plumage, stunned & unbirdlike on road, hit by us. -- watercolour $250.

Edge of the Field. Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan). common herb, in bloom, 22 July 1995, Ontario: Lanark County: Bathurst: 10 km WSW Fallbrook, 44.91261N 76.48944W. I love edges, and on the evening of a hot summer day the edge of the Maple bush is a cool mystery, the Black-eyed Susans have escaped the mower and rejoice with bloom along the forest edge, and I can see an echoing glimmer of sunset through the trees. -- oil on canvas $300

Rufous Hummingbird on Hemlock Regeneration. Cloudy and cool all day. Treefrogs calling and the Blue Grouse drumming. Aleta finished the drawing of the Hemlock leader for the Hummingbird painting. HABITAT: roadside thickets of Rubus spectabilis in 17 year stand of conifers. Selaphorus rufus: FWS 17880 & 17881 males by plumage and behavour -iris very dark brown, legs, feet, & bill black. formalin mummies. The first was taken from the top of a Hemlock, and the second from the same territory, where at least two males were contesting the area with zooming flights. It was bright and sunny all day, and we saw our first Violet-green Swallows and Goldencrown Zonotrichia, and there are female Varied Thrushes active around camp (18 April 1988. 2 km NW mouth of Loss Creek, ca 10 km E, 7 km S of Port Renfrew, Renfrew Land District, B.C. UTM Grid 10UDJ 052 724). -- watercolour $970

Saw-whet Owl. Aegolius acadicus. adult, prey of predator, specimen. Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Bishops Mills:S side (Schuelers). 44.87156N 75.70095W 10 April 1997 TIME: 1320. AIR TEMP: -1.5, sunny, breezy HABITAT: rural village, shallow soil limestone plain; seen with Cat earlier by Joe Morin, painted by Aleta as Jennifer held it. -- watercolour (sold).

Pigeon Guillimot. Cepphus columba: FWS 19565 gape 10R6/9, feet & legs 10R5/12, iris 7.5YR4/2. Cathy Shapcott came over in John Wood's kayak, and we watched families of Guillimots on the water. On the far side of the island right across from our camp we surprised a family of young Otters and their mother. They hid behind a little point until we rounded it, when they disappeared in an explosion of spray. We then saw the mother and another in a crack that ran about 2 m into a cliff of rock at the water line, and she watched and snorted at us until we left. We found Guillimot wings floating on the water in the tangle of trees beside the crack of the rock, which we presume was their den site (18 August 1989. E side Burnt Island, Skidegate Channel, Queen Charlotte Land District, British Columbia. UTM Grid 8U PQ 895 003) -- watercolour $1200.

Swallowort at Spencerville. At first there are only scattered plants, but as you proceed they become more frequent, and you notice the little dark oval leaves of what seem to be many seedlings of the same species among the twisted stems of the larger ones. After a while they coalesce into a blanket on both sides of the track, closing into a dense boot-strangling thicket. When the woods open out onto an oldfield the unbroken stand is 90 cm tall with an acrid milkweed smell. It's a dense stand of narrow vertical stems not tangled among themselves except at the tips. Each stem bears opposite pairs of spaced-out smooth green leaves: like long-pointed Lilac leaves low on the stem, which narrow to a parallel-sided shape towards the top. The twisting uppermost 10-15 cm is bunched with spiky long-pointed green pods like the climbing spines of a tropical liana. Inside they're miniature milkweed pods, with green seeds and moist maturing fluff. (Vincetoxicum rossicum, Pale Swallow-wort or Dog-strangling Vine, just north of Spencerville, Grenville County, August 2004) -- Invasive Plants Series -- oil on canvas $885.

Limerick Bittersweet. Celastrus scandens, growing on Rhamnus frangula, Salix, and Cornus stolonifera thickets along the trail, up to 5 m tall, but never dense. The arils are ripply-smooth orange-red, initially nearly the same hue as the crisp hulls they've broken away from. The twigs are wire-tough, and the sucker shoots almost unbreakable by hand, twining intimately up stems rather than looping as tendril-vines do. (21 & 23 Nov 2005. Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Limerick Forest HQ Loop Trail 44.88751N 75.65252W) -- oil on canvas $450.See Aleta's essay on the making of this painting.

Marlborough Rocks and Cedar....a forest interior painting just uphill from the Cedar Grove Trail parkinglot of Marlborough Forest -on the S side of Roger Stevens Drive west of Malakoff Rd.10 May 2004 -- oil on canvas $210.

The following are available as giclée prints:

Bullhead Lily. Nuphar variegatum 2000/049/db Ontario: Grenville County: Oxford-on-Rideau: Oxford Mills Dam, Kemptville Creek. 44.96486N 75.67863W. 16 March 2000. Brown-water creek at limestone flats below old milldam; about 15 metres of rhizome washed up on shore. It's not clear if these stems have been washed free by the drawdown of the pond or by its refilling? Aleta took one home -2.1m long, diameter ranged from 45-72mm, 58.5mm mean, so a surface area of 2687 sq mm, and a volume of 5.6 litres. There were 35 leaf scars and 3 flowerscars on a typical 21cm segment, so 350 leaf scars and 30 flowerscars estimated for the whole section of stem. -- framed giclée print of watercolour $75.

Lobster. Homarus americanus, from a commercial pound at St Andrews, N.B., April 1985 -- framed giclée print of watercolour $85.

White Pine trimmings. Pinus strobus. tree, prey of predator, A big old tree with a strange litter of trimmed-off needle bunches and twigs with baby cones all about it. We look up into the branches, very wide and thick at the top. Then Albert Dugal pointed beyond to a brown furry ball, a Porcupine, at the base of a Cedar tree. (9 March 1996, Ontario: Ottawa-Carleton Region: Gloucester: Leitrim Wetland. 45.30793N 75.60929W) -- framed giclée print of watercolour $65.

Shannies. Radiated Shannies live in tidepools, but are seen only when stones or gravel are disturbed. The male is larger, and has a broader head than the female. His darker coloration, even the black pectoral fins, are sometimes completely faded when at rest. The female shows no changes in her coloration, and has a fuller belly now, distended with eggs and flushed a pearly pink. Very shy, they are fearful and agitated unless under cover (Ulvaria subbifurcata, near Deer I., Passamaquoddy Bay, Charlotte Co., N.B., 4 April 1985) -- framed giclée print of watercolour $75.

Tomcod.Atlantic Tomcod breed in winter under the ice of estuaries and rivers, laying adhesive eggs over sandy or gravelly bottoms in brackish or fresh water. They do not move widely, so the species is composed of many local populations, each dependent on the quality of midwinter water for its reproduction. Pulp and paper mills that discharge accumulated wastes into rivers after the winter ice has formed may only drive other fish away temporarily, but Tomcod must face chemical poisoning and reduced oxygen levels as they breed, and soon disappear from the region (Microgadus tomcod, Sea Peaches, Boltenia sp., Mud Star, Cteriodiscus crispatus, and Sulphur Boring Sponge, Cliona celata, near Deer Island, Passamaquoddy Bay, Charlotte Co., New Brunswick, 4 April 1985) -- framed giclée print of watercolour $75.