Thursday, 1 November 2012


In the previous post I mentioned that the group of naturalists that I was accompanying were on their way to a nearby marsh to observe the waterfowl migration. Well, not to leave you hanging, I can tell you that we made it to the marsh after many stops and starts to observe birds along the way, and we did observe and identify many waterfowl species out on the marsh. Despite the rain and the cold it proved to be a most wonderful day, one that, as I mentioned previously would have an effect on the rest of my life.

In time I would leave a successful career and go back to studying art something that I had started in my youth and eventually work full time at becoming an artist. Nature would play a large part in my making art, especially the drawing and painting of songbirds and waterfowl.

I should mention that this was back in the 1980s at a time when Canadians were enjoying good economic times resulting in a time for reflection, and a passion for all things connected to the natural world. It was also a good time for wildlife artists with a market driven by a seemingly endless appetite for so called signed and numbered limited edition reproductions. I could never get around the idea that the reproduction had any real value being nothing more than a calendar and having nothing more to do with the artists other than the fact that he, or she, handled it for just long enough to scribble a signature. Besides, my interest was making original prints, multiple originals, etchings in particular, and reproductions went against everything that I believed in, foremost being honesty. As it turned out, towards the end of the 1980s the economy began to sour and the cold truth about so called limited edition reproductions struck home and in time the entire industry collapsed…..along with the popular art market ,and sadly, a lot of the interest in the natural world.

I have to mention that drawing and painting birds and waterfowl back in the 1980s was not at all easy. In the time before Google and digital cameras it was necessary to spend considerable time walking the marsh observing ducks and geese. Stuffed specimens were not easy to come by and most proved to be mounted improperly. Lifeless skins were good only for colour and feather patterns. Needless to say I wore out a few pairs of boots and a lot of paper and pencils learning how to draw birds and waterfowl.

Today I don’t draw, nor do I paint, birds or waterfowl. My vision has aged, and I find that I no longer have the patience for the detail. Still, I have no regrets. I painted and drew my share of wildlife. Years spent wandering the marsh have now been replaced with wandering the wilderness drawing and painting solitude of Canada’s parklands.

Tiny Marsh  
Hand-coloured Etching

Caught Napping (Mallards)  
Hand-coloured Etching

Mates (Canada Geese)  Etching

Back of the Marsh  (Mallards)  
Hand-coloured Etching

Common Loons   Pen and Ink Drawing

Pencil Drawing

Dropping In   (Mallards)    
Watercolour Painting

Three Mallards  
Hand-coloured Etching

Paired (Wood Ducks)  
Hand-coloured Etching

Three Waterfowl Pencil Studies

Disturbed  (Common Loon)  
Hand-coloured Etching

Drake Wood Ducks (Detail)  
 Watercolour Painting

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