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Art by Barry Kent MacKay

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Art by Barry Kent MacKay

Gryfalcon bird art Barry MacKay
(Artwork - 065)
Gyrfalcon
(Falco rusticolus)

This is the third (and last, at least for now) painting of a Gyrfalcon I have done this year. They are a fantastic bird and I love painting them…in my life I have now done five major paintings of them, two “vignettes”, both done this year, and three with backgrounds…one, of a dark morph bird, done in oils many years ago. All but one have sold or been commissioned, and ironically, the one exception happens to be my favourite.
 
This one requires a bit of explanation. It was painted for a patron who owned a similar piece, but of a Peregrine Falcon, by the late brilliant bird artist, Robert Verity Clem, who died in 2010.   Clem has painted a Gyrfalcon that was owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, where it is going to stay, so my patron wondered if I could do one like it. Apart from not being as good an artist as Clem, I don’t paint in his style (which reminds me, at least somewhat, of another, more famed New England artist, Andrew Wyeth), who tended to do photo-realistic landscapes with birds in them (I like to take the elements of a landscape but incorporate them via my imagination). Also, he painted in gouache watercolour, so far as I know, even on large paintings, but I only do so for small paintings, and then rarely.   
 
But, I was fascinated by the challenge, and I love painting birds of prey (and waterfowl, and shorebirds, and…well…everything with feathers) so I took up the challenge. I mixed gouache with acrylic and worked on illustration board. The painting is nearly life size.
 
My friend, Bruce Bartrug, an American artist, had just returned from Iceland with many wonderful, moody photographs, including one of a Whimbrel atop a mound of glacial rock and frozen turf. I took that idea, although drawing originally, in part from my own sketches, photos and memory of similar habitat I’ve visited in Labrador.
 
The Gyrfalcon is found across the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, even above the arctic circle, although it comes south some winters into more southern regions. It is an important bird to me because many years ago I was, with the help of Dr. David Lavigne, John Grandy and other good friends and colleagues, responsible for getting the North American population protected from international trade for primarily commercial purposes, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. My own government fought against this every inch of the way, but we won! Before then, the eastern hemisphere population was protected but not the western, and a lot of poachers were taking birds from both populations, passing them off as “legally” acquired in North America, and making very rewarding sales to falconers, especially in the middle east and Arabian region. Sadly, other species of falcon are still under siege, but we did help better conserve this, the largest of the world’s falcons.

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Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
See his website: http://barrykentmackay.ca/

 

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