Category Archives: Art Exhibition

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

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.

Nathan Martin, A Woody Woody Situation, Age 7

“Did you know a woodpecker can peck 20 times per second? I like woodpeckers because of the Mohawk on their head and the many fun facts about them.”

Nathan Martin, Age 7

Nathan Martin, Age 7

Olvia Colombo, Nature’s Red Lipstick, Age 15

“Much like the pop of color red lipstick brings, the cardinal brightens up nature with their bright red coloring. The cardinal is a very recognizable and well loved bird, being the state bird for seven states. They are leaders of the songbirds, paralleling the Catholic leaders, named cardinals, whom they were named after. Cardinals brighten up mother nature’s trees, and are sure to brighten the days of birdwatchers.”

Olivia Colombo, Age 15

Olivia Colombo, Age 15

Tamirat Jones, Owl, Age 7

“I like owls because they have really good night vision.”

Jones_Tamirat_Age7

Tamirat Jones, Age 7

Ellie Sweeney, Owly, Age 9

Ellie, Sweeney, Owly, Age 10

Ellie, Sweeney, Owly, Age 9

Selected artwork from Taking Flight: A Juried Youth Bird Art Exhibition

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.

Chickadees by Carolina Perez, Age 10

“Chickadees are beautiful. They feed their babies, just like my mom feeds me.”

Chickadees, Carolina Perez, Age 10

Chickadees, Carolina Perez, Age 10

Cloudy Home by Carolina Perez, Age 10

“Sometimes it gets cloudy, but that does not mean colorless”

Cloudy Home, Carolina Perez, Age 10

Cloudy Home, Carolina Perez, Age 10

Kendall Winston, The Kakapo Bird, Age 11

“I chose the Kakapo bird because I think it is adorable. It is very interesting that it is the only flightless parrot in the world. I first learned about the Kakapo while watching a PBS show called Animal Misfits. Someday I hope I can go to New Zealand to see this awesome bird!!”

Kendall Winston, Kakapo, Age 10

Kendall Winston, Kakapo, Age 10

Maris Van Vleck, Wood Duck, Age 14

“The wood duck is one of my favorite birds. I love the way the colors
of the water seem to reflect into the colors of his feathers.”

Maris Van Vleck, Age 14, Wood Duck

Maris Van Vleck, Age 14, Wood Duck

Maris Van Vleck, Two Robins, Age 14

“This painting was based off of a photograph I took in my backyard.
I like the beautifully colored feathers of these robins.”

Maris Van Vleck, Age 14, Two Robins

Maris Van Vleck, Age 14, Two Robins

Lila Yennior, Soaring Osprey, Age 7

“I was inspired by an Osprey nest that we saw near our house.
We watched the osprey soar across the sky.”

Erica Yennior, Soaring Osprey, Age 7

Erica Yennior, Soaring Osprey, Age 7

Hayden Bildy, Peregrine Falcon, Age 14

“I enjoyed doing the detailed work on this sketch as I tried to
capture the feather patterns as much as possible.”

Hayden Bildy, Age 14, Peregrine Falcon

Hayden Bildy, Age 14, Peregrine Falcon

Finishing the Frog

Bullfrog and Spatterdock - at 72 dpi, cropped

June 30, 2016

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Part 2

I end my day at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary back at the visitor center, where a big spreading mulberry tree, with lots of ripening fruit, is attracting a parade of birds.   I meet Sandy Selesky, whose lovely photographs often grace the pages of BIRD OBSERVER magazine.  We watch rose-breasted grosbeaks, cardinals, waxwings, red-bellied woodpeckers and robins gorging on the fruit.

Full Frontal Bluebird - at 72 dpi

Full Frontal Bluebird, watercolor on Winsor & Newton cold-press, 11″ x 9″

Nearby, a massive old white ash is attractive to birds that prefer an open perch.  I get superb views of a wood pewee, than a handsome male bluebird.  I start a drawing of the bluebird, and in the course of my work, notice a band on the bird’s right leg.  The volunteers who monitor the nest boxes must know this bird well!

Remember the drawing of the Bullfrog and Spatterdock that I mentioned in my last post?

Bullfrog and Spatterdock - drawing at 72 dpi

Here’s the sequences of washes I used to finish the watercolor back in my studio:

Step 1…

Bullfrog and Spatterdock - STEP 1 - at 72 dpi

I often start a watercolor by mapping out the overall pattern of light and shade.  Here, I used a neutral color mixed from ultramarine blue and vermilion.  This mixture can be more bluish or more purplish by varying the proportion of the two pigments.   By starting the picture this way, I’m encouraged to work all over the picture, rather than focusing on any one part.  It also forces me to consider the composition, especially the overall pattern of light and dark.  I allow this step to dry completely.

Step 2…

Bullfrog and Spatterdock - STEP 2 - at 72 dpi

Next, I start to establish the local colors of the various elements, painting these colors right over my tonal washes from step 1 (in the vocabulary of watercolor, this is known as glazing).

Finish…

Bullfrog and Spatterdock - at 72 dpi

Bullfrog and Spatterdock, watercolor on Arches hot-press, 8″ x 11.5″

The final phase of the painting adds the rest of the local colors, and makes minor adjustments of tone and color to bring all parts of the picture into balance.

Home and Away

We are thrilled to have a guest post by the amazingly talented artist Sherrie York. She will be visiting the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon between July 28 to July 30 to display her art, lead several programs, and give an illustrated talk about her printmaking. She will be doing a workshop with our summer camp on July 28th, giving an illustrated talk and reception for her artwork on July 29th, and giving an all day printmaking workshop on July 30th.

Home and Away by Sherrie York

Travel and art-making have often gone hand-in-hand. (Or perhaps that’s brush-in-hand.) John Singer Sargent’s watercolors of Morocco revealed an intriguing faraway culture. John James Audubon’s journeys recorded North America’s flora and fauna and Albert Bierstadt’s romantic western landscapes helped inspire the first national parks.

I enjoy travel, too, and will be traveling from my Colorado stomping grounds to MABA this summer. In July I will exhibit some of my linoleum block prints in the estate house and present both a printmaking workshop and presentation about my work. Of course it doesn’t always take a passport, a suitcase, or a new frontier to find subject matter. Familiar places close to home are inspiring, too.

landscape

This is Sands Lake. It’s a scruffy little body of water next to the Arkansas River in the town of Salida, where I live. They call it a lake, but it’s really a settling pond for the fish hatchery upstream. Water flows from hatchery to lake via underground culverts, then spills out the far bank in to the river.

During the day the trail around the lake is filled with fishing enthusiasts, dog-walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and birders. More than one elicit teenager party has taken place there after dark. Pristine, exotic wilderness it’s not.

But for me this humble corner provides a wealth of inspiration and stories year-round, and no small number of linocuts, too.

PasdeDucks-©SherrieYork

Pas de Ducks: All year

At the upriver end of the lake, next to the inflow culvert, is a concrete fishing pier. The remains of cliff swallow nests were still attached when it was installed, a good indicator of its provenance as repurposed bridge. Hopeful mallards congregate below the pier looking for handouts, and from my elevated vantage point I enjoy watching the tracery they create in the reflection of the railing.

 Cruisin-©SherrieYork

Cruisin’: Spring

Forget the robin as a harbinger of spring! Local birders know that spring migrants begin to appear weeks before the pelicans turn up at the lake, but their sheer size and brilliant whiteness assure that even the most bird-ambivalent will notice this sign of winter’s demise.

EPSON scanner image

EPSON scanner image

Usurper: Summer

Three species of bluebird are present in the area around the lake, but the mountain bluebird’s cobalt shimmer and soft call is the most common. Bluebird enthusiasts abound, too, as evidenced by nest boxes peppering the edges of yards, pastures, and the municipal golf course. Of course tree swallows don’t know they aren’t the intended occupants…

CootduJour-©SherrieYork

Coot du Jour: Autumn through Spring

Like mushrooms after rain, American coots sprout on the surface of the lake in early autumn. The antics of 70 or 80 over-wintering birds amuse me until spring, but before the trees have finished leafing out they are gone. I never see them arrive, and I never see them leave.

NoTimeLikethePresent-©SherrieYork

No Time Like the Present: Winter

Winter is the time for waterfowl on Sands Lake. Because so much water moves through from the hatchery the lake remains open even in the coldest days of winter. Common and Barrow’s goldeneye, buffleheads, scaup, wigeon, and more fill the lake with noise and motion and offer consolation for the absence of warblers and swallows.

 

 

Winter’s Greens

This is from a series of posts by MABA resident artist Barry Van Dusen

Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary, Attleboro on December 6, 2015
With two unseasonably mild days in the forecast, I head to Attleboro, MA, which is home to two Mass Audubon sanctuaries. The two properties are about a mile apart, and close to downtown Attleboro. Both are relatively recent additions to the Mass Audubon sanctuary system.

Ground Cedar - at 72 dpi

Ground Cedar at Oak Knoll

Entering the woods along the Talaquega Trail, I notice rich patches of green on the forest floor. These are club mosses – tree clubmoss and ground cedar. On closer inspection, I find teaberry and striped pipsissewa intermixed with the clubmosses – a rich plant mosaic!

The pipsissewa is especially distinctive, with its dark blue-green leaves veined in white. (technical note: the green of these leaves was achieved by mixing thalo green and ivory black – an unusual combination that captured just the right hue!).  From each whorl of leaves, a tall spindly stalk rises and is topped with globular seed heads.

Striped Pipsissewa - at 72 dpi, cropped

Striped Pipsissewa, watercolor on Arches hot-press, 14″ x 10″

Many of my students think of “backgrounds” as less important that the primary subject – a sort of space filler around the main attraction. But, as one of my college art teachers used to say: “There is NO unimportant part of a painting!”. Even ‘blank’ white spaces must be carefully considered, and must function as integral parts of the overall design. I often spend as much time designing and painting the “background” as I do the main subject, sometimes MORE, as in this case.
For this watercolor, I wanted to include a full background – the forest floor around the plant. I also wanted those little cushion-like seed heads atop the slender stalks to be prominent in the upper portion of the picture (in life, they are often lost against the complex background pattern).

Striped Pipsissewa - bkground at top (detail)

Pipsissewa – detail of background at top

I deliberately lightened the tones of the background at the top, and indicated the forest floor with an abstract arrangement of shapes and tones. The paler tones and softer edges, along with their position high in the picture, are all clues to the eye that there is greater depth in this part of the picture.

Striped Pipsissewa - bkground at bottom (detail)

Pipsissewa – detail of background at bottom

At the bottom of the picture, the forest floor is much closer to our viewpoint, and it is rendered in distinct shapes – you can identify each leaf and twig, here. The trickiest part was the transition zone, where the background changes from representational to abstract.

Brook at Oak Knoll - Talaquega Trail - at 72 dpi
I find another strong note of ‘winter’s green’ in the cress-like plants growing in the stream that crosses the Talaquega Trail. I sent some pictures of this plant to friend and expert naturalist Joe Choiniere, and with some help from botanist Robert Bertin, we identified this plant as a species of Water-starwort (Callitriche sp.).

Brook at Oak Knoll - close-up - at 72 dpi

Water-starwort at Oak Knoll

There are several native species of this aquatic plant, but identification can best be determined by examination of the flowers and fruits. Interestingly, the flowers can be pollinated either above or below the water’s surface!

Pepperbush Seed Heads, Lake Talaquega - at 72 dpi

Pepperbush Seed Heads, Lake Talaquega, sketchbook study, 4″ x 9″

Mallards, Talaquega - at 72 dpi

Mallards, Talaquega Lake, sketchbook study, 5″ x 9.5″

Talaquega Lake is quiet today, with just a few pairs of mallards feeding in the shallows. The lake is almost completely ice-free, with just a thin crust along the southern shore which will soon melt away in the afternoon sun. Scanning the pond with my telescope, I spot a single painted turtle hauled out onto the northeast shore, soaking up the rather weak rays of sun. A turtle sun-bathing in December! It has indeed been a mild winter so far.
I pause along the trail on the northern side of the lake and study the colors of the opposite shore. A big white pine dominates the view and supplies yet another note of ‘winter’s green’. I set up my painting kit along the soggy shore, and do a small watercolor, allowing the subtle colors to melt into one another.

Winter Shoreline - Lake Talaquega - at 72 dpi

Winter Shoreline, Lake Talaquega, watercolor on Arches rough, 9″ x 8.5″

Lecture by Deborah Cramer, author of A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and An Epic Journey on October 17th at 3pm

RedKnot_ChristopheBuidin

Knots on beach in New Jersey: credit © Christophe Buidin

The Museum of American Bird Art is excited to announce a free lecture by Deborah Cramer, author of A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey on Saturday, October 17th at 3:00 pm in our gallery. Book signing to follow the lecture.  Click here for directions.

The Museum of the American Bird has on display (a generous loan from the estate of Dix Campbell) two beautiful and rare decoys of the red knot, a sandpiper that once frequented the southern coast of Massachusetts.  Ornithologists once described this bird as representing “an untrammeled wildness and freedom that equaled by few and surpassed by none.”

In her new book, The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey, Deborah Cramer follows the knot along its extraordinary 19,000 mile annual migration, tracking birds on remote windswept beaches along the Strait of Magellan, and  into the icy tundra where it nests.

Deborah Cramer, author, at Wingersheek Beach in Gloucester, MA, November 13, 2014. © 2014 Shawn G. Henry • 978.590.4869

Deborah Cramer, author, at Wingersheek Beach in Gloucester, MA, November 13, 2014.
© 2014 Shawn G. Henry • 978.590.4869

She follows them in Delaware Bay, where at the new and full moon of spring’s highest tides, she finds  the world’s greatest concentration of horseshoe crabs, whose eggs fuel shorebird migration and whose blue blood safeguards human health.  The red knot, newly listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, its existence threatened by global warming, has become the twenty-first century’s “canary in the coal mine.”

Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer-winning author of The Sixth Extinction, wrote that The Narrow Edge is “at once an intimate portrait of the small red knot and a much larger exploration of our wondrous, imperiled world.” National Geographic Conservation Fellow Tom Lovejoy wrote that Cramer’s account is “more thrilling than the Kentucky Derby.”

Join Cramer to follow the birds’ odyssey, and to explore what’s at stake for millions of shorebirds.

Learn More:

The Great Marsh

This is from a series of posts by MABA resident artist Barry Van Dusen

Barnstable Great Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Barnstable on August 16, 2015

I had hoped to get down to Cape Cod last week, but car troubles put my Toyota in the garage for a few days, and by the time I finally get underway a heat wave has settled over New England, with high humidity and temperatures in the 90s. To try and beat the heat, I get an early start and arrive at Barnstable Great Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary by 7:30 am.
A short hike through a forest of oak, cedar, cherries and pines brings me to a small clearing next to an abandoned cabin. A break in the foliage here supplies an elevated view of the marsh, with a backdrop of Sandy Neck in the distance. The Barnstable Great Marsh is the largest salt marsh on Cape Cod, covering more than 3,000 acres.
The clearing is a nice shady spot at this time of the morning, so I set up my scope and pack chair. I spot an osprey, egrets, herons, laughing gulls and shorebirds out on the marsh, but they’re too distant to draw or paint, so I decide to do a landscape. With my 25x scope I can “project myself” out onto the marsh, bringing the dunes of Sandy Neck much closer, and this makes for an appealing composition.

Work in Progress at Barnstable Great Marsh (small)

…the first washes set out to dry in the sun

As I start to lay down the first washes of color I realize that the very high humidity is going to have an effect on my painting. High humidity can be both a blessing and a curse to the watercolorist. The washes of color dry very slowly, so there’s more time to develop the wet passages. I can take my time developing smooth color gradations and soft edges – things which I usually have to hurry with before the paper dries. At some point, however, I need those first washes to dry, so I can paint additional layers over them (what watercolorists refer to as glazing.) Today, it’s taking FOREVER for those first washes to dry! I lay my half-finished painting on a bush in the sun, and wander down the path to the edge of the marsh.  By the time I return to the clearing the washes have finally dried and I can get on with my work. As I’m painting with the scope, small birds zip back and forth through my field of view – swallows – and as a final touch, I add them to my painting.

Swallows Over Barnstable Great Marsh 2 - at 72 dpi

Swallows Over Barnstable Great Marsh, watercolor on Arches cold-press, 9″ x 12.25″

Next, I move down to the edge of the marsh to do some studies of some of the plants I’d noticed there. Growing out on the marsh is an attractive flowering plant that I later identify as saltmarsh fleabane.

Salt-marsh Fleabane at Barnstable Gr Marsh (small)

I’m also intrigued by the bulrushes growing where the woods give way to the marsh grasses. These are robust, 4-foot tall grasses with long curving blades and heavy clusters of cone-shaped seed heads.

Softstem Bulrush - at 72 dpi

Softstem Bulrush, watercolor on Lanaquarelle hot-press, 11.25″ x 9″

It’s getting pretty hot, now, especially in the sun, so I do some exploring along the the shady trails of the sanctuary. I flush a green heron at Otter Pond, and then find a superb stand of cardinal flowers at the outflow of spring-fed Cooper Pond. I had not expected to find cardinal flowers growing wild on Cape Cod, since I most often encounter them far from the coast along cool, tumbling streams in upland forests. But they seem quite happy here, with a second handsome cluster of plants growing further west along the shore. Unfortunately the flower stalks are surrounded on all sides by a thick growth of poison ivy, so I content myself to do some drawing from a distance thru my telescope, and complete this watercolor later in my studio.

Cardinal Flower at Barnstable Gr Marsh 4 - at 72 dpi

Cardinal Flower, watercolor on Arches hot-press, 14″ x 10″

On my way back to the car, I stop to marvel at a wildly contorted cherry tree growing along the trail. In one place the limbs of the tree seem to have tied themselves into a big knot! It deserves, and gets, a study in my sketchbook.

Contorted Cherry Tree at Barnstable Gr Marsh - at 72 dpi

Cherry Tree at Barnstable Great Marsh, pencil study, 8.5″ x8.5″

Larry Barth Exhibition at the Museum of American Bird Art: September 19 to January 18

“Of all the exquisite designs I see in nature, I am most powerfully drawn to the shapes, colors, and patterns of birds. I simply marvel at their perfection. I will see something in the field that stirs my blood so deeply that I cannot help but respond artistically in an effort to better and more fully
understand what I have seen. I want to hold onto that image as long as I can and somehow make it mine. Art is my way of taking possession of the beauty I see in the natural world. While I have always used art to further the relationship I enjoy with birds, I’ve come to realize that birds have been my means of exploring art, and art, in and of itself, is just as important to me as birds. Each has enhanced my understanding of the other and in my work the two become one.” – LARRY BARTH
Larry Barth by Linda Barth

Larry Barth is widely recognized as the preeminent living sculptor of birds—the consequence
of his extraordinary sense of design, keen eye for ornithological detail, and remarkable
technical skills. This exhibition, Birds, Art & Design, was organized in conjunction
with Barth’s much-anticipated new book of the same title. It presents a comprehensive gathering of his recent work, on loan from collectors and museums across North America.
A lifelong fascination with birds led him from his sketchpad and paints to his father’s workshop
where, at age fourteen, he carved his first bird. After high school he enrolled at Carnegie
Mellon University where he developed his own curriculum, studying birds and art. He graduated with honors in 1979 with a degree in Fine Arts in the field of design.

Since then he has been carving full time. He has been a consistent
winner at the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition, where he has won an unprecedented sixteen world championships in the decorative lifesize division.
His work has been included in the prestigious Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum’s Birds in Art exhibition every year since 1980. In recognition of his artistry, Barth was awarded the Master Wildlife Artist medallion from the Woodson in 1991. He has exhibited at the Academy of Natural
Sciences in Philadelphia, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the National Geographic Society’s Explorer’s Hall, and the American Museum of Natural
History in New York City. The Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon (then known as the Mass Audubon Visual Arts Center) presented his first solo exhibition in 2003.
Barth has taught and lectured widely throughout the United States, but spends most of his
time close to his home and studio near Stahlstown, Pennsylvania.

Barth Tropicbird sm

Red-billed tropicbird – Larry Barth

This exhibition is a cooperative effort between the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon and the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, who gratefully acknowledge the generous assistance of Kirk and Nellie Williams and Stackpole Books.

A map of Barry’s trips to all the Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries where he has created art

We are really excited for this post. I’ve recently created a map of all of the Wildlife Sanctuaries that Barry has visited. When you click on each indigo bunting icon, the name of the sanctuary, date of his visit, and link to the blog post will appear. Click on the link for each post to follow Barry as he sketches and paints at different Mass Audubon Sanctuaries in the state. ENJOY!!!!

Acclaimed Bird Artists Visit A Naturalist’s Eden

A group of bird artists gathered at MABA yesterday to revel in—and draw inspiration from—the artistry of Don Eckelberry’s watercolors, now on exhibit.

DSC_3186

Left to right: Lucia deLeiris, Rob Braunfield, Jim Coe, Al Gilbert, Cindy House, Gigi Hopkins, Barry Van Dusen, Mike DiGiorgio

DSC_3190

The artists taking in the Don Eckelberry Exhibition

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Left to right: Julie Zickefoose and MABA director Amy Montague

 

Barry Van Dusen sharing his amazing collection of art from his residency at the Museum of American Bird Art

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