Category Archives: Museum

Barry Van Dusen – Finding Sanctuary

Join Barry Van Dusen for a virtual live book launch of his new book Finding Sanctuary on June 24, 2020 at 7 pm. This is a free event.

MOOD is an elusive quality in a painting, and I never know if I’ve expressed a strong mood until after a piece is finished.   Even then, I’m not always sure just how I did it!  One thing I love about watercolor is the wide range of effects and moods that can be achieved.  Watercolors can be soft and ethereal or bold and crisp.  I urge my workshop students to think about their intentions before lifting a brush – consider what you love about the subject, how it makes you feel, and what you want to express about it. 

One way to refine your intentions is to consider the key that will best suit what you wish to convey about the subject.  Key is a term artists use to describe the predominant value scheme of a painting, i.e. the overall lightness or darkness.  You may decide on deep, jewel-like tones that will add a sense of mystery, or, you may prefer to use a predominance of light tones that will supply a bright, airy feeling.  The mood I get on a sun-drenched beach at noon is very different from how I feel in a shadowy hemlock grove at dusk.

high-key painting is one that has a predominance of light values, with a lesser amount of darks.  A low-key painting may have some lights, but will feature mostly dark values.  Note that each type of painting can have a full range of light and dark tones, but the proportions are what matter. 

Let me show you some paintings that explore this aspect of painting.  These are all watercolors from my new book FINDING SANCTUARY.

Piping Plover and Shore Flies

Sub-adult Iceland Gull

These are both high-key paintings and they are both coastal subjects.  There’s usually lots of light at the seashore, and if the surroundings are light colored (e.g. beach sand), the overall effect can be very bright.  In the plover painting notice that the seaside goldenrod leaves are quite dark.  By supplying contrast, they enhance the overall well-lit effect.  In the Iceland Gull painting, the dark notes are minimal – confined to the bird’s eye and the tip of its bill. 

Here are some low-key examples from the book:

Rutland Brook

Rutland Brook – now I’m in that hemlock forest I mentioned earlier.  It’s cool and dark and shadowy, and the only light notes are highlights in the running water.   Dark tones are more challenging to handle in watercolor than light tones.  Watercolor passages always dry considerably lighter than when they are wet, so the artist must compensate and paint boldly with a brush carrying lots of pigment.  

Barn Swallow on Nest

Barn Swallow on Nest – these birds always nest in shadowy places: on interior barn rafters or under overhangs.  The brightest notes here are the areas of whitewash below the bird’s nest.  The majority of tones are dark to convey the shadowy environs of the nest.  

Contrast can play a related role in creating mood.  Foggy, humid or snowy conditions reduce the contrast in a scene, while dry, clear days accentuate contrasts and call for crisp, clearly defined shapes.  You can choose to enhance contrasts in your painting or suppress them.

Summer on the Concord River

Summer on the Concord River – this was a warm, humid day in summer, and the moisture-laden air over the river suppressed contrasts and supplied an inviting softness. 

The Horse Barn in a Spring Snowsquall

The Horse Barn in a Spring Snowsquall – likewise, the moist, dense air on this snowy day created soft edges and close tonalities.  

Rough Meadows

Rough Meadows – a clear, dry day in autumn makes for strong shadows and crisp edges. On a day like this, even the distant tree line is quite dark, and stands out in relief.

In all of these examples I have deliberately used artistic concepts to help me arrive at a specific mood or feeling, or to express a particular hour, season or weather condition.  As an artist, YOU are in command of your picture, and you should take full advantage of these tools to get your message across.  By thinking ahead about what type of mood you wish to convey, and using these artistic concepts to support your intentions, you may find the mood of a painting not so elusive! 

What It’s Like to Be a Bird: Paintings by David Sibley

Exhibition Opening

Saturday, February 15
1:00-5:00 Reception with light refreshments
2:00-4:00 Meet the Artist

Book Signing

Saturday, April 18
2:00 Talk by David Sibley
2:30-5:00 Book signing

David Sibley

David Sibley is America’s pre-eminent field guide artist/author. His Sibley Guide to Birds, published in 2000, quickly became the new standard of excellence in bird identification guides, and the fastest-selling bird guide ever. His newest book, to be published in April 2020, is What It’s Like to Be a Bird, about the amazing science of birds’ lives.

The exhibition at the Museum of American Bird Art displays Sibley’s delightful original art from the new book, accompanied by captions with fascinating new scientific research about birds. In non-technical language, Sibley answers some of the most common questions asked by both seasoned birders and the general public, such as “how do eagles see so well?,” “why do birds sing?,” and “how much does a feather grow in one day?”

Visitors to the exhibition will see more than 40 of Sibley’s paintings, including 29 bird portraits, painted double life-size. The exhibition will be on view February 15 through May 31, 2020, Tuesday – Sunday 1-5pm. The exhibition gallery is located on a 121-acre wildlife sanctuary with trails, open Tuesday – Sunday 9am-5pm. Admission is free for Mass Audubon members, $4 adults, $3 children (2-12) and seniors (65+).

Drawing Hawks and Falcons from Life – December 2, 2018 from 10 am to 12 pm

Do you love birds of prey? Do you love drawing? Join us on Sunday, December 2, 2018 at the Museum of American Bird Art for our Drawing Hawks and Falcons from Life workshop. Click here to register!

During this class you will be able to see hawks and falcons up close and discover more about these beautiful birds of prey from a Mass Audubon naturalist while you learn to draw them from life with pencil and paper. You will be able to explore methods for developing your sketch, as well as techniques for capturing depth, volume and texture. All skill levels are welcome! Preregistration is required. Suitable for adults and older children.

Inspiring wonder, creativity, and curiosity at the Nature Lab: An inside peek at the Wild at Art Travel Camp

Our inaugural travel week at the Wild at Art Summer Camp has just wrapped up. From July 9 to July 13, our travel program included a visit to the amazing and inspiring Nature Lab at the Rhode Island Institute of Design.

Campers had a close up look at many amazing natural history artifacts and were able to use state of the art microscopes to be amazing by a tiny world that is almost always hidden.  Enjoy this short video of the day.

Inspiring curiosity, creativity and more with Barry Van Dusen: A Day with the Wild at Art Travel Camp

Our inaugural travel week at the Wild at Art Summer Camp has just wrapped up. From July 9 to July 13, our travel program included visits to Barry Van Dusen’s art studio for an inside look at his craft and a short trip to Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary to paint and sketch with Barry in the field. It was wonderful to see all the campers inspired by a true master artist and wonderful person. Enjoy this short video of the day.

We also visited World’s End in Hingham, travel by ferry to Peddock’s Island in Boston Harbor, visited the Roger Williams Zoo, had ice cream at Crescent Ridge, and visted the amazing Nature Lab at Rhode Island Institute of Design

Nature in a minute: Highlights from Bird-a-thon

Owls Live Festival on March 24, 1-4pm

Join us on Saturday, March 24, from 1-4 pm, for an afternoon filled with fun activities and a chance to see live owls from Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Find out what makes owls unique and which owls you can find in your own backyard!

There will also be crafts, owl cookies to decorate, face painting, an outdoor owl quest, art projects, refreshments, and more. And don’t forget to enter a drawing for a chance to win toys, a Mass Audubon membership, a bird print, or a free week at camp.

Proceeds of this fundraiser provide scholarships for our Wild at Art! summer camp.

Please Note

  • All ages are welcome.
  • Registration not required.
  • Parking will be available across the street at Canton High School (900 Washington Street, Canton, MA 02021).
  • Event will take place rain or shine. 

 

Show Time!

Museum of American Bird Art, Canton    May 2017

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably noticed that the posts have slowed down abit.  There’s a reason for this.  With the opening of my residency exhibition at the Museum of American Bird Art scheduled for May 21, 2017, I’ve had to put the sanctuary visits aside and spend all of my time on show preparations.

IN A NATURAL STATE: Barry Van Dusen Paints the Nature of Mass Audubon, presents more than 60 original watercolors from the residency project.  On exhibit are watercolors of birds, landscapes, flowers, mammals, fish, insects and more, inspired by my visits to 54 Mass Audubon properties across the state.  The paintings are accompanied by narrative labels that chronicle my experiences and adventures over the course of the two-year project.

Gary Clayton (President of Mass Audubon), Amy Montague (Director of the Museum of American Bird Art) and Barry Van Dusen (Artist)

In the mezzanine, visitors can see a display of my sketchbooks and field kit, and a chronological slideshow on the large mezzanine monitor includes ALL of my residency paintings up to the present time (more than 150!), along with related sketches and photographs.

The installation would not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of the Museum staff: Amy Montague, Sean Kent, Owen Cunningham, Sarah McClellan, and volunteer Julianne Mehegan.  Their dedication and professionalism continues to fill me with awe!

 

Museum staff Owen Cunningham and Sean Kent talk over details of the installation

There’s plenty of time to take in the exhibition, which will be on display throughout the summer, closing on September 17, 2017.  I hope those of you who have not yet seen the exhibit (or the Museum), will pay a visit!

Getting back to the residency project – I still have a few Mass Audubon properties to visit this summer, so stay tuned for future blog posts from Endicott (Wenham), Blue Hills Trailside Museum (Milton), Felix Neck (Edgartown), Lime Kiln Farm (Sheffield)  and Richardson Brook (Tolland).  With my sanctuary visits coming to an end, I’m feeling a reluctance to finish.  It’s been a wonderful experience exploring the Nature of Mass Audubon!

A Note to Collectors

A selection of my original watercolors has been purchased by the Massachusetts Audubon Society for the Museum’s permanent collection, but many of the originals are available for sale to private individuals.  When you visit the Museum, ask for a price list at the front desk.  Also, feel free to contact me to check on availability of any of the paintings you see on the Taking Flight blog, or on the slideshow in the Museum’s mezzanine.  Write me at vandusen@dslextreme.com.

 

Young Artists Take Flight

On Friday September 23rd, many young artists who had their artwork accepted into our inaugural youth bird art exhibition:Taking Flight, were able to see their art displayed, meet other young artists and David Sibley, and celebrate with friends and family. Here are a few pictures from that wonderful evening.

YoungArtists-19YoungArtists-2YoungArtists-15YoungArtists-22

Here is a gallery with more photos

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If you would like to see photos of each piece of art, check out these links. Each page has selected artwork exhibited in Taking Flight:

  1. https://blogs.massaudubon.org/takingflight/selected-artwork-from-taking-flight-a-juried-youth-bird-art-exhibition/
  2. https://blogs.massaudubon.org/takingflight/selected-artwork-from-taking-flight-our-juried-youth-bird-art-exhibition-part-ii/
  3. https://blogs.massaudubon.org/takingflight/selected-artwork-from-taking-flight-our-juried-youth-bird-art-exhibition-part-iii/
  4. https://blogs.massaudubon.org/takingflight/selected-artwork-from-taking-flight-our-juried-youth-bird-art-exhibition-part-iv/
  5. https://blogs.massaudubon.org/takingflight/selected-artwork-from-taking-flight-our-juried-youth-bird-art-exhibition-part-v/
  6. https://blogs.massaudubon.org/takingflight/selected-artwork-from-taking-flight-our-juried-youth-bird-art-exhibition-part-vi/

 

Selected artwork from Taking Flight: our juried youth bird art exhibition (Part VI)

We are extremely excited to display a selection of art from our first annual juried youth bird art exhibition. This annual exhibition is open to any children and young adults age 4 to 18 years old. All selected entries will be on display at the Museum of American Bird Art from September 23 to December 11th. Entries for our second annual exhibition will open in early 2017.

Barn Swallow in Flight, Anna Rose, Age 15

“Every spring, my friends and I visit the infamous Magee Marsh in northwestern Ohio. While we were there, we saw many vibrant and magnificent warblers. Yet, of every single species we saw, I was enraptured by a small flock of Barn Swallows at the edge of a small pond. I watched them for nearly half an hour and quickly sketched their poses. Eventually, my favorite bird became a finished work of art.”

Anna Rose, Age 15, Barn Swallows

Anna Rose, Age 15, Barn Swallows

Orioles and Oranges, Anna Rose, Age 15

“Ever since I was a baby, my mom has been trying to attract orioles to our family bird feeder. Finally, one afternoon this spring, a single male Baltimore Oriole landed on an orange. A few moments later, six more orioles joined the first. It was an amazing few days as the orioles regularly visited us. My mom and I will always remember the orioles that visited us this spring as one of the highlights of our birding experiences.”

 

Anna Rose, Age 15

Anna Rose, Age 15

River Hunter, Aaron Melendez, Age 9

“The bird I painted is a Belted Kingfisher. I painted this bird because I like to go birding. It reminds me of family trips to the Indiana Dunes State Park. I also painted the Kingfisher because it is a great example of a nice dark blue.”

Aaron Melendez, Age 9

Aaron Melendez, Age 9