Tag Archives: Residency

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.

 

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!!!!

Slippers in the Forest

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

High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary, Shelburne on May 21, 2015

Ron Wolanin calls me on May 20 from High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary in Shelburne. The yellow lady’s slippers are in full bloom, and Ron warns me not to wait too long if I want to work with them. I decide to make the trip out to Shelburne the next day, and arrive at High Ledges by 9 a.m.
Patten Road is bucolic and scenic, with pastures and farms tucked between the leafy woodlots. With Ron’s directions jotted on a scrap of paper tucked in my pocket, I head up to the ledges to find the flowers. At the ledges and the old Barnard homesite (i.e. “the chimney”), I can look down on Shelburne Falls and the Deerfield River. Overhead a blackburnian warbler sings from one of the red pines.
Proceeding down the trail, I locate the flowers, right where Ron said they would be. Eight blossoms are scattered across a small area of the forest floor, in little groups of two or three plants.

High Ledge painting set-up - 72 dpi

Although I have seen these flowers in botanic and private gardens, this is the first time I’ve seen them in the wild, and they take my breath away! To see them in their native forest haunts brings out their true character. First, I get right to work on a straight-forward depiction of a pair of plants. I decide to paint the plants without a background –more like a botanical illustration.

Yellow Lady's Slipper at High Ledges - at 72 dpi

Yellow Lady’s Slippers at High Ledges, watercolor on Arches hot-press, 10″ x 14″

The only change I decide to make is to show the two blossoms facing each other, and I do this by substituting a blossom from a nearby plant for the left-hand blossom in my picture.  While I work a raven croaks overhead and I’m serenaded by a hermit thrush and a yellow-throated vireo.

This is truly a special place for wildflowers – growing nearby are miterwort, hepatica, pink lady’s slipper, azaleas, columbine, star flower and others.  As I near completion of my watercolor, I decide to start another focusing on just the blossoms. I start a drawing from a different cluster of plants, showing one blossom from the back and one from the front.

Yellow Lady's Slipper at High Ledges 2 - at 72 dpi

“Slipper Talk”, watercolor on Arches hot-press, 9″ x12″

The structure of the blossoms is intricate, and the drawing must be done with great care to capture the right shapes and proportions. I put this drawing in my pack to finish in the studio, since I want time to explore more of the sanctuary.  (Later, after I’d finished this watercolor, my wife Lisa said it looks like two ladies having a conversation, so I name it “Slipper Talk”).

stay tuned for High Ledges part 2…

 

Getting Started: Barry Van Dusen Residency

The first in a series of posts by MABA resident artist Barry Van Dusen

Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Princeton on March 11, 2015

After a long, cold winter (February the coldest and snowiest ever recorded in Eastern Massachusetts!), this mild day in the 60s was my chance to get outdoors and start my Museum of American Bird Art residency, visiting Mass Audubon sanctuaries across the state!  I started close to home at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton.  The trails at the Sanctuary were still deep in snow – impassable by anyone without snowshoes or skis, so I wandered the cleared paths around the barns, and checked out the new work being done on the foundation of the horse barn.

I knew the sheep would be good models to draw, as I had worked with them before.  Most of the sheep in the Wachusett Meadow flock are of Merino and Coopworth lineage, but I found the petit Shetlands, which are a recent addition, especially attractive.

Coopworth Sheep - at 72 dpi

sketchbook study, 3″ x 4″

Shetland Sheep studies - at 72 dpi

Shetland Sheep, sketchbook study, 6″ x 7″

Shearing time is still a few weeks away, and the animals are heavy with wool. When the Shetland ram “Hickory” and the ewe “Willow” struck a pose side by side in the strong late-winter sunlight, I recognized the opportunity for a good watercolor!

Sheep at Wachusett Meadow - 3.11.15 - at 72 dpi

Hickory and Willow at Wachusett Meadow, watercolor on Arches cold-press, 10.25″ x 14″