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When I was five years old my parents bought a place on Clearwater Lake in Annandale. The water back then was as clear as glass. Everything about water and the life in and around it, including the rocks and sand, were an endless source of fascination for me during my childhood. I could hardly wait to wake up each morning so I could spend the day in the water.


The wading area was teeming with life; there were crawdads, snails, clams, algae growing on rocks and tiny creatures living in the algae. The species of minnows and fingerlings were numerous and a swarm of bull head spawn could be counted on each spring. They were so enticing, and even though I wasn’t supposed to touch them, I always did, then I would get stung. I knew every species just by looking at them from their top-sides. Sometimes a painted turtle would come up onto the beach to sun itself, and very rarely we would catch sight of a rubber back. At night my brother and I would take flashlights down to the dock in order to watch the walleyes eyes glow as they fed in the shallows. 


The passage of the summer season was tracked by the order in which certain species of flies flitted about the lake. The first mosquito came long before the first robin appeared in spring. Soon after came the gnats. May flies would almost drive us crazy at night, they swarmed so thickly around the porch light. Small moths we affectionately called “dusters” would hop in the lawn as my dad mowed. June bugs came next, concurrently with the dragon flies, with tails of cerulean blue, cadmium yellow or vermillion red. The end of summer started with the buzz of cicadas. All throughout were Copper moths, Red Admirals, Monarchs, an occasional Yellow Swallowtail and, (if we were lucky) a Luna Moth. All of these species ended up as part of the food chain that fed the fish in the lake or the birds that flew above it.


I still go to the lake, and I can no longer describe it the same way. In fact, by the time I was in college, the clearness of the water was long gone. My artwork is about environmental awareness. The impact of humans is felt everywhere, or so it seems, and that presence is shown in my work. Most of what I do is in oil or acrylic and the large scale is reminiscent of the largeness and enveloping quality of nature around me as a child. I try to include a small fish or creature in all of my paintings. See if you can find them!

Rebecca Dudley

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