Tuesday, 30 October 2012

#335 In the field: Travel in October

October has been a whirlwind month of travel, work, pleasure and activity:  The month began at the Brookgreen Gardens, brookgreen.org, trustees meeting in Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina; later, an art show in Little Rock, where I revisited the Clinton Library “Presidential Eagle”, “River Market Pig” and received a wonderful commission to install a pelican monument in the wetlands project adjoining the Clinton Library.

Then, a fly in moose hunt north of Kenora, Ontario where I got the coming year’s venison for the freezer; and finally, I returned to my beloved cabin/studio on Lake of the Woods, Ontario Canada, where I will work and remain until the lake freezes and forces me to leave the island sanctuary.

Below: Top; Presidential Eagle, Clinton Library; Bottom; Eat More Beef

Sunday, 28 October 2012

#334 Noatak River, Alaska, con't . . .

During our Noatak “impromptu bird anatomy workshop” I described the four basic bird wing shapes illustrated below, see post #333, Oct. 26.  Understanding that all birds fall into a semblance of one of the four basic shapes helps the viewer establish relative proportions and identify the bird.

I will be teaching a Bird Sculpture and Anatomy
Workshop at Scottsdale Artist School, 
www.scottsdaleartschool.org/ on January 21-25, 2013 and at Brookgreen Gardens rsalmon@brookgreen.org on April 15-17.  Beginners and especially painters who have never sculpted are welcome.

Below, drawings from my sketchbook journal: Top, workshop data; middle, wing shapes; bottom, Tern sketch

There are four basic wing shapes and all birds fall  into a semblance of one of the four configurations. 
The size and shape of wings give clues to how the bird lives.

1.  Long and wide wings are used by soaring birds
     such as hawks, eagles, and ravens.  A wing is
     considered long when it exceeds the length of
     the bird's body.

2.  Narrow and pointed wings are used by fast
     flying birds such as swallows, swifts, and many
     migratory birds such as ducks and geese.

3.  Long and narrow wings are used by gliding
     birds such as albatrosses, gulls, fulmars,
     shearwaters, and terns.

4.  Wide and rounded wings are used for short,
     fast and quick-escape flight birds such as
     grouse, pheasants, pigeons, and owls.

Friday, 26 October 2012

#333 Noatak River, Alaska, con't . . .

One memorable day on the Noatak River canoe expedition - see post #332, Oct. 22 . . . howling headwinds and pelting rain made travel impossible; our group huddled in the cook tent, drinking hot coffee and tea; some of us working on our journals, reading, or painting.

One of our group members, Bob Hansen, an accomplished musician, (as well as an expert paddler) had brought his guitar on the trip.  What a delight to listen to this incredible entertainer in the wilds of Alaska as the weather kept us together on a blustery, wet day!

On another terrible weather day, I was asked to give an impromptu bird anatomy workshop to captive "students" in the cook tent . . . I explained the four basic wing shapes which helped identify the multitude of birds we encountered on the expedition.  A good, productive time was had by all . . . great memories!

Below, is a drawing from my sketchbook journal:

Monday, 22 October 2012

#332 In the field: Noatak River, Alaska, con't . . .

The Noatak River watershed lies in the northwestern Brooks Range and is the largest mountain-ringed river basin in America.  Start with blog post #329, Oct. 16, for more information about this wilderness canoe expedition in Alaska.

The breeding season for birds in the Arctic is brief, but the abundance of food makes the challenge worthwhile.  All five species of loons breed in the Arctic:
the Red-throated, Yellow-billed, Common, Pacific, and the closely related Arctic Loon . . . We saw them all.

Below, is a field study of an Arctic Loon from my sketchbook journal.

Above, sunset on the Noatak

Above, approaching the Noatak River headwaters

Saturday, 20 October 2012

#331 In the field: Noatak River, Alaska, con't . . .

 Gary McGuffin photographing a muskox 
Over the years, I've been on many wilderness field and hunting expeditions.  My most profound outdoor experience was the Noatak River canoe trip this summer.  See blog post #330, Oct. 16.  Having been to Alaska over 20 times, this was my first undertaking in the Arctic.

The Noatak River basin is a spectacular, untouched region, containing no roads or trails, and is protected in it's wild and natural state.  Many species of mammals were encountered on the adventure; including caribou, grizzly bear, Dall sheep, wolf, fox, muskox, and more.

Approximately 100 species of birds are arctic breeders:  They are migrants rather than permanent residents and we saw many of them.  Only 11 species are capable of living in the Arctic all the year round: gyrfalcon, raven, black guitlemot, redpole, rock and willow ptarmigans, Ross's and ivory gulls, dovekie, thick-billed murre, and snowy owl.

Below, is a field study of a Snowy Owl from my sketchbook journal.

A nice day along the Noatak

For additional information about this exciting wilderness expedition, read Gary McGuffin's reports via satellite phone during the trip: http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/details.asp?c=46085 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

#330 In the field: Noatak River, Alaska, con't.

There were days on the Noatak River canoe expedition - see blog post #329 Oct. 16 -
when the wind was so blustery and the weather was so cold and adverse that we simply had to hunker down in our tents . . .  reading, writing in our journals, or sketching and painting.

The Western Arctic caribou herd, numbering close to 500,000 animals, migrates to and from calving grounds through the broad expanse of arctic habitat along the Noatak.  We encountered many caribou on the tundra and crossing the river.

Below, is a caribou study from my sketchbook journal, painted in the tent during a windy day on the Noatak!

Sunrise along the Noatak

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

#329 In the field: Noatak River, Alaska

Field study has dominated much of my time this summer and fall.  August and part of September were spent paddling the Noatak River, located entirely above the arctic circle, north of the Brooks Range in Alaska. See blog post #314, September 18.

The Noatak flows 460 miles from its headwaters on Mount Igikpak to the Arctic Ocean, spreading into a delta at Kotzebue sound.  The entire region is in its wild and natural state as the river winds through mountains, forests, and tundra.  We encountered no people until the last week of the trip when we met a delightful Inupiat native who hailed us from the river's edge.

The expedition was led by canoe expert and professional photographer, Gary McGuffin and artist, Rob Mullen.  Six of us spent five weeks paddling the river's entire 460 mile length . . . sketching, painting, and photographing the area's birds and animals.

Top right, me, Bob Hansen, Linda Besse, and Rob.  Bottom right, Trish and Gary.

Below, is a field study of a Tundra Swan from my sketch book journal.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

#328 In the studio: Works in progress . . .

Shown, is a striding cougar and  moose in progress at the Lander studio headquarters.  
Typically, I have over 50 block-ins in progress at various stages of completion.

Friday, 12 October 2012

#327 In the studio: Works in progress . . .

This two hour block-in of a Western Screech Owl was my demonstration at the 
National Cowboy Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma during Prix de West.  
Notice the assemblage of exaggerated shapes such as ovals, triangles, etc. . . 
an effective way for the artist and viewer to understand form as the sculpture develops.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

#326 In the studio: Works in progress . . .

This block-in of a Great Blue Heron was started in the field along Oak Creek . . . south of Sedona, Arizona.

Monday, 8 October 2012

#325 Drawing, con't . . .

While planning a sculpture, I create line drawings of my subject in an effort
 to communicate gesture, pose, and silhouette.

Shown is a line drawing representing the contour of a goat  . . . It is a continuous edge which describes the 
extremities of shapes and masses.  A series of closely placed lines on the belly and head express form.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

#324 Drawing: Deer, con't . . .

Like most artists, I use photography to collect reference for my work.  A camera however, cannot take the place of drawing the figure from life.  While photography can be used as a "memory-jog" to supply important information, drawing helps the artist understand the figure's form, structure, and individual characteristics.

At right, is a photo of a young Mule Deer buck by my pond in Lander, Wyoming.

Below, a detail of an original etching of the same subject, copyright Sandy Scott

Thursday, 4 October 2012

#323 Drawing: Deer . . .

Drawing is essential to understanding a creature's form and anatomy.  After teaching sculpture workshops for over 25 years, I continue to encourage students to observe their subjects through drawing.  Look at the drawings of the great animal artist Bob Kuhn: They are studies in structure, design, and the animal's individual characteristics.

Shown is my recent sculpture of Swamp Buck  . . .  below a Bob Kuhn conte' drawing of deer.  Sculpture is three-dimensional drawing and drawing is vital to creating art.