Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Free Gift: an American Avocet Art Print


Above is the link to a free giveaway, which is an 11x8" watercolor print of a shorebird in a cattail marsh. The title of the print and original work is 'Adult Avocet in the Secrecy of Rain'.
The team of Minnesota-based artisans on Etsy, Handmade in MN, has free giveaways of two weeks' length, each giveaway featuring some work by a different member. Viewers are invited to enter a request for the free item by clicking on the link (above) to the team blog.

The original 12 x9" painting that this print is made from was created in 2001, mainly in the suburban area north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and in Lac Qui Parle County over in Minnesota's southwestern region. When I started the work I was remembering my first-ever avocet, a wading bird with an upward-curving bill, which I had seen along a creek bank in North Dakota in late May when my child was about seven years old and hiking the prairie with me. In coloration and markings the avocet was a book picture come to life, instantly knowable by name. In its behavior, as it chased geese and ducks off a sand bar it preferred for its own occupation, the avocet--or blue shanks if you enjoy using old-folks' names based on a bird's overtones or quirks--seemed militant and halfway funny, like a thin eccentric clearing squat, much heavier strangers from a public space while everybody is dressed in legendary finery.

In  the painting however I was invested in a predominant theme of my own and much other natural-history art, the sense of 'Ohh' that comes to a person who is crossing land or water and sees something that is alive and true to that place, especially if it is seldom seen or never-before-met but has a wondrous repute and mystique. Yes, the soul notes, this is a piece of Creation that I have missed out on before today, but can now verify through my own senses which are not to be mistaken, at least in such visions as this; I may hear it too, and see it flee because of the danger inherent in my kind.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sat Down a While in Spring's Lengthening Rays

Since our region just below the Canadian border has dipped closer to the sun with March, the afternoons now signal almost-spring, with the sun pulled higher off the horizon. Yet it's been a winter closer to the traditional with an enduring, layered snow pack. This winter may have been making up for the one we skipped last year, which was like a freezing autumn hosting an eerie, dry spring. Lately the daylight of a host of yesterdays in contrasting latitudes reaches through trees both bare and foliate.

I daydream of fishing for lake salmon, an investment of chilly, empty-minded hours with strangers full of secrets on either side of me, and forgo the opportunity to get back to artwork that is about delicate membranes taking full advantage of light. The subject will be a drunken hummingbird, so far just sketched in, but the current focus is an assortment of flowers formed like pouches and bottles. A local greenhouse offered plenty tropical and sub-tropical examples when I was allowed the privilege of a mid-week visit.

The work picks up again in fits and little frenzies in between all the other things there are to do, with new and opposing flower structures to add in though they're all on a theme of choice and satiety. This might be  a metaphor for a lot of us who feel that if our modern circumstances give us the means to try a lot of foods, a lot of travel destinations or other luxuries, our lives will be the fullest by the greatest possible indulgence in all that we could find and afford--even if, in the end, we've fooled ourselves and by a chosen course had led ourselves beyond the point of peril. We are of course time and again fooling ourselves on any number of points, yet most of us in a cyclical manner follow a scheme that seems to have been laid out for us and by us, and we dignify it all the ways we can for the good of ourselves and everyone we hope to nurture.