Category Archives: Museum

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

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.

 

 

December Birds

December 7, 2015
Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary, Attleboro
Early December is one of those in-between times for birders. The migrations of autumn are mostly past, and the winter visitors have yet to arrive. A walk in the woods at this season can seem devoid of avian creatures, but this morning at Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary, I manage to be in the right place at the right time.

Cardinal at Attleboro Springs - at 72 dpi

Cardinal at Attleboro Springs, watercolor on Arches coldpress, 12″x 9″

Birds tend to gather into mixed flocks at this time of year, roaming together in their search for food. Most of the birds in these “guilds” are year-round residents, but some are late migrants (e.g. white-throated sparrows), and some are winter residents – birds from the north who spend the winter in our area (e.g. juncos and tree sparrows). The path to the Meadow passes through a brushy thicket, where I encounter one of these winter flocks. The thicket is catching the rays of the morning sun and forming a warm, protected pocket. There are lots of juncos and white-throats, along with chickadees, blue jays and robins. A Carolina wren, a downy woodpecker, a nuthatch and a male cardinal round out the group.

White-throat at Attleboro Springs - at 72 dpi

White-throat at Attleboro Springs, watercolor on Winsor & Newton coldpress, 9″ x 10.5″

The white-throats and cardinal are especially cooperative, so I take some photos and start some drawings that I later finish in the studio. I depict the white-throat deep in the thicket, surrounded by bramble canes; while the cardinal is in a higher perch above the tangle.

Alder Twigs, Attleboro Springs - at 72 dpi

sketchbook study of alder twigs, pencil, 5.5″ x 9″

At Brother’s Pond, I’m engrossed with drawing the alder catkins and twigs, when another group of birds moves through. Most are juncos, but there’s also some flashes of cobalt blue – a family group of bluebirds! The adults and youngsters are scouting out cavities in the red maple snags along the canal below the pond. Bluebirds, being cavity nesters, are instinctively drawn to holes in trees, and these birds flit from snag to snag, peering into holes and crevices.

Young Bluebirds, Attleboro Springs - at 72 dpi

Young Bluebirds at Attleboro Springs, sketchbook page, pencil and watercolor, 9″ x 12″

Puddingstone looms large in local lore and legend, and figures prominently on the sanctuary maps of both Oak Knoll and Attleboro Springs. Puddingstone is a conglomerate that consists of rounded stones embedded in a “cement” or matrix of contrasting-colored rock, giving the appearance of a raisin pudding. The Attleboro variety of puddingstone features purplish cobbles embedded in a greenish matrix. I find the most attractive examples of these distinctive rocks in an outcropping along the Reflection Trail.

Puddingstone - at 72 dpi

Puddingstone

Chipmunk Season

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

Lincoln Woods Wildlife Sanctuary, Leominster on October 6, 2015

Wherever I happened to be along the trails at Lincoln Woods Wildlife Sanctuary today, I was never out of earshot of the persistent “chuck-chuck-chuck” of Eastern Chipmunks. At no other time of the year are these attractive little rodents more vocal. I’ve been told that the “chuck” call is given by males defending a territory, so I tracked one down (by ear) and put a scope on the animal. It occupied an inconspicuous perch on the forest floor and delivered it’s “chucks” at regular intervals, otherwise remaining quite still – a good model for drawing!

Chipmunk, Lincoln Woods - at 72 dpi

Eastern Chipmunk, watercolor on Arches cold-press , 8″ x 12″

My dad often used an expression to describe us kids when we got up early in the morning – “BRIGHT-EYED AND BUSHY-TAILED”. It’s a pretty good description of this little guy!

The woods around the parking area in this urban neighborhood are a nearly unbroken stand of Norway maples. The ability of this tree to grow quickly and seed-in heavily allows it to out-compete native trees and form dense monocultures.  As I head deeper into the woods, however, the Norway maples thin out and give way to native species. Heading out along the western side of the Elizabeth Lincoln Loop Trail, I pass through a stand of majestic white pines before the trail joins with Vernal Pool Loop.

Vernal Pool at Lincoln Woods - DRY (small)

A series of vernal pools can be seen on either side of this elevated trail, which runs along a glacial esker ridge. Most of the vernal pools are bone dry at this time of year, but two of the largest pools have some water in them. I wander down to the largest pool to get a closer look. Around the pool, I notice some interesting plants – marsh fern, swamp oak, sassafras, winterberry and dogwood.

Vernal Pool at Lincoln Woods - WET (small)

As I’m about to depart, a movement along the opposite shore catches my eye, and I focus my binoculars on two blackpoll warblers that have come to bath in the pool.

Blackpoll Warblers in Vernal Pool sketch - at 72 dpi

Sketchbook study of young blackpoll warblers, pencil, 5″ x 9″

The bright olive hue of the birds makes an unexpected contrast with the somber colors of the shoreline, and the bird’s reflections seem to glow on the dark waters. Within minutes the birds have moved on, and the pool is once again quiet and still. I make some quick sketches to fix the scene in my mind, and take some digital photos of the shoreline shapes and colors.  I use these references to help me work up this studio watercolor the next day.

Blackpoll Warbler Bathing in Vernal Pool - at 72 dpi

Blackpoll Warbler Bathing in Vernal Pool, watercolor on Arches rough, 10″ x 14.25″

Connecting children with nature through art, observation, and inquiry

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This fall many 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders have connected with nature, created art, and have had lots of fun on field trips to the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon. Students have explored our Wildlife Sanctuary, became enthralled by the exhibition of Larry Barth’s amazing sculptures, and created art inspired by nature in our studio and outside on our sanctuary. Our field trips have been focused on close observation of nature and activities that encourage creativity, imagination, and inquiry.

What have we done on the field trips?

On the field trips, students investigated seasonal changes that occur in the fall, focusing on how seeds move and how plants and animals prepare for winter. For example, students explored how the wind and animals move seeds from one place to another.

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“It looks like the field is full of bubbles.” Overheard while students investigated how milkweed seeds have adaptations to disperse via the wind.

In addition, they closely observed the sculptures by Larry Barth in our museum. Everyone marveled at Barth’s incredible attention to detail.

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Using inspiration from the natural world and Barth’s sculptures, students created landscape art using seeds and other natural materials.

Check out the landscape art that students have created

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Using inspiration from the natural world and those amazing sculptures, students created a series of monotype prints.

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Illustrated Lecture with Artist Barry Van Dusen on 10/24

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Barry Van Dusen’s Shoreline at Long Pasture

On Saturday, October 24th at 3pm at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton, Barry Van Dusen will give an illustrated lecture on his latest and most ambitious Artist-in-Residency project yet: during a 22-month period, Barry will visit at least 45 Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries, producing drawings and paintings at each location.

Barry is currently about halfway through the project, having visited 23 properties and produced over 50 watercolors, traveling more than 1,000 miles around the state from the foothills of the Berkshires to the Upper Cape.

In this one-hour illustrated talk, Barry will share stories and paintings from his previous residencies, and describe his Artist-in-Residency project at Mass Audubon.

You’ll hear about his adventures exploring Mass Audubon properties all around the state, and learn more about the approach Barry uses to meet the demands and challenges of working on location.  A selection of the original watercolors he has produced for the project will be on temporary display.  Learn more about the lecture

Barry has a long association with Mass Audubon as an illustrator for our publications for nearly 30 years.  Beyond his remarkable illustration work, he has established himself as an internationally recognized fine artist focusing on the natural world and most often birds.

Barry brings this rich experience to the task of capturing compelling natural history moments at Mass Audubon’s treasured sanctuaries.  Fellow artist James Coe says, “Barry Van Dusen’s paintings are among the most original works being created today. Every perfect
gesture; each lively glint in a bird’s eye is there because Barry observed that in nature.”

Learn more

Pastels: A Step-by-Step demonstration by Cindy House

Creating landscape scenes with pastels is a wonderful way to create art. In the summer, the landscape is rich with brilliant and vibrant colors along with many subtle shades. A few years ago, pastel artist Cindy House created a slideshow with captions, explaining each step in the process of creating a pastel landscape, from the initial scene selection to putting on the final touches. Check out here video here and please share in the comments what ways you like to use pastels to create art. Check out here website as well for amazing works of art.

On The Edge

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

Cook’s Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary, Barre on July 11, 2015
After reading the orientation panel at the Cook’s Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary parking area, I decide to check out the old Town Pound, only a few hundred feet further down South Street. I’ve explored other historic pounds in Massachusetts, but this one strikes me as being particularly well preserved. The high stone walls are still straight and true, and even the old oak gate is in good condition, despite hanging off its hinges.

POUND at Cooks Canyon (small)

Along the first segment of the Cook’s Canyon Trail, I spot an attractive colony of Clintonia, with its small clusters of bright blue berries atop spindly stalks. The bright green, slightly glossy leaves form a strong pattern viewed from above, set off by pine needles and a large piece of pine bark partially hidden by the leaves.  It’s pretty obvious from my painting why this plant is often referred to as “bluebead lily”.   I paint in the berries last – I know they’ll make little explosions of color that will bring the watercolor to life!

Clintonia, Cook's Canyon  - at 72 dpi

Clintonia at Cook’s Canyon, watercolor on Winsor & Newton cold-press, 10.25″ x 8″

Further along the trail I read an interpretive panel about dam removals. A small dam across Galloway Brook was removed here about 8 years ago, restoring the brook to it’s free-flowing state. Ebony jewelwings flit around the brook, perching on swamp milkweed in full bloom. From what I can see, I’d say the dam removal was a complete success!
The second, larger dam on the brook is the main destination for most visitors, since it becomes the site of an impressive waterfall when there’s enough water in the brook. And it was flowing strongly today, due to the heavy rains of yesterday!

WATERFALL at Cooks Canyon (small)

Below the waterfall, the brook tumbles down a narrow gorge – the “Canyon”. I’m impressed with the way the trees cling to the steep slope, and set-up to paint a view of the north wall of the canyon from a narrow trail that skirts along the top edge. There’s barely room to set up my pack chair, with a steep drop-off immediately to my right. I feel a little guilty to be blocking this little section of trail, and apologize to a couple who graciously agree to detour.

Canyon Wall, Cook's Canyon - at 72 dpi

The Canyon Wall, watercolor on Arches cold-press. 12.25″ x 9″

I usually do a lot of editing to a forest scene like this. There’s a lot more detail than I could possibly paint in on location, and much of the detail would clutter the scene anyway. If you want to see just how much I leave out, take a look at this photo of the scene and compare it with my finished watercolor.

CANYON WALL at Cooks Canyon (small)
Returning on the Galloway Brook Trail, I hear at least three ravens yelling back and forth and circling above the trees. It appears to be a family group, and I pondered whether they might have nested somewhere on the canyon walls.
Growing right along the brook is a delicate, airy vine with leaflets of three and thread-like stems curving and twisting up onto the tops of other streamside plants. This is hog peanut, a relative of the more common ground nut. I enjoy doing a study in my sketchbook, letting the lines wander (like the plant tendrils) around the page in a spontaneous manner.

Hog Peanut sketchbook study, Cook's Canyon - at 72 dpi -

Hog Peanut sketchbook page, 9″ x 12″

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.

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

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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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