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Art by Barry Kent MacKay
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Art by Denise E. Stephens
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Art by Marla Deaton
Art by Barry Kent MacKay
(Artwork - 065)
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.
Art by Barry Kent MacKay |
Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
See his website: http://barrykentmackay.ca/