27 April 2006

Something entirely different...

...or at least that was the thought I had when I decided to begin this post. I know that there are lots of others out there with an interest in bird art...and nature art in general. Whether or not this blog has any widespread appeal to an audience of more than a handful though is up for debate in my mind right now. For now, I will keep plugging away with new posts from the giant artists of the past and present. My current painting projects have been railroaded by work, travel and preparations for recording and shooting in Arizona for three weeks...starting next wednesday. Here are some works from the master, another in what I'm sure will be a long series of posts dedicated to the works of Louis Agassiz Fuertes.
The Leafhopper is a painting that I loved from the first moment that I saw it in the Cornell digital Fuertes collection. It is a Scarlet and green leafhopper, although it always looks blue to me. In my past insect collecting days in central NY, I have found these beautiful hoppers commonly on sweeps through aster and goldenrod fields. Clearly the beautiful bug once caught Fuertes' eye as well.
The Kangaroo Rat is one of my favorites from his mammal work. After a completing a series of bird paintings for the National Geographic Society in 1913, Gilbert Grosvenor came back for more of Fuertes work. From 1915-1918 Fuertes toiled over a large and industrious commission of large mammals, small mammals and finally portraits of the breeds of Canus familiaris. Reportedly, Fuertes was skeptical about the quality of the final works. Unjustly so, I believe. Most of the mammals I have seen represent that same mastery of capturing a moment in the life of an animal that is so excellently represented in his bird work.

26 April 2006

An Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Ivory-bills are on my mind this morning. Here is a beautiful painting by Michael DiGiorgio. I presume that this piece was done recently...in response to the renewed attention this species has had of late. I found a picture of Michael DiGiorgio walking through the Arkansas bayou on his Wildlife Nature Artists Group page. He spent some time looking for the bird and sketching bottomland habitat last year.
The search, the rediscovery, the secrets and the skepticism is very close to home for me here in my perch and continues to be a source of unrelenting attention. I am not a fan of all of the negativity being broadcast out there. My opinion about the evidence aside, I really wonder why some people have chosen to represent such a negative attitude about the way in which the detections, the search and the analysis have been handled. Again, I am purposely not sharing an opinion about the birds existence, I am just very uncomfortable with so many accusatory, adversarial and malicious people out there representing to have such a better way of doing things and yet they do nothing but talk.

25 April 2006

Painting of the Day - Louis Agassiz Fuertes

A quick posting for today with a selection from my digital bird art archives. I have a growing collection of pieces collected from all over. Most are pulled from the web, some I scan from books and others I have received from museum collection digital archives. This one seems apropriate as it was just about a year ago that I bid at auction for this original painting. Originally completed as a plate for Frank M. Chapmans 'Warblers of North America' published in 1907, and printed again as a plate in Birdlore, Fuertes completed this and several other fabulous Warbler plates in the early, yet already highly successful and prolific days of his relationship and collaboration with Chapman of the American Museum of Natural History. Check out the really excellent integration of the Acacia thorn into his signature below the Virginia's Warblers belly. I hope that this painting found a great home.

14 April 2006

Favorite Bird Artist Series - Julie Zickefoose

The aspect of Julie's work I enjoy the most is its imaginative qualities. Painting a bird in action, in its environs, or on the wing, and telling a story about its life is a very interesting way to work. The stories she weaves with her paintings add another dimension, an interesting subtext in watercolor. Here is a beautiful piece published on the cover of Birding a while back. You see what I mean about the story of migrating Black-billed Cuckoo...one of the coolest species to hear vocalize as it flies over you on a spring night flight.
Take a look at Julies new website.
And check out a new painting of Long-tailed Manakins featured on her blog. You can track the evolution of this painting and a bit of its back story in one of Julies "making of" posts. In these great blog postings, progress of a painting is traced from inspiration to planning and sketching, all the way through to the final work. Check out the first Manakin post at Julies blog.

An update, I succeeded in my quest to see a Rhinoceros Auklet on my Seattle trip last weekend. I spotted a total of about 45 individuals on the Anacortes to Orcas Island ferry, as well as a very good number of Red-necked Grebe and my best looks ever of Harlequin Duck, a far view from the shore of Orcas, and an amazing, intimate view from kayak. Sketches to come later.

05 April 2006

Favorite Bird artist series - Ian Lewington

Just before a jaunt to the Pacific northwest for a few days, Auks, Auklets and Murrelets on the mind, I am throwing up a quick addition to the series. Ian Lewington is a fine painter from England. His great work can be seen in the Handbook of the Birds of the World Series and is perhaps best represented in his plates for the Oxford monograph, 'The Auks' by Gaston and Jones. These plates will most certainly be one of my guides if I am ever lucky enough to have the opportunity to illustrate a bird guide. Ian has a graphic, yet extremely realistic style, quite popular amongst a prolific cadre of impressive european artists active today. His field guide work is great, but take a look at some of the paintings from his website. Ian seems to enjoy depicting birds in curious perspectives, postures and angles and absolutely excels at conveying the fast action of birds in flight. Here is one of Ian's fine plates from 'The Auks'. I hope to return home from Seattle with sketches of Rhinoceros Auklet of my own.
Here is Ian's website.

Golden-cheeked Warbler

This fine painting of a Texas specialty will surely brighten your day. To my disappointment, It has turned cold again in the northeast. Phoebe's are here and I hope Warbler's are around the corner. At lunch today, I watched a Golden-crowned Kinglet forage in the shrubbery with coronal stripe ablaze...just as vibrant as this Golden-cheeked Warbler on a small scale. More springtime arrivals soon to come I hope. This Golden-cheeked was painted by my favorite artist working today...Larry McQueen.