Barry Kent MacKayArt by Barry Kent MacKay
Art and Photo Presentation

In this section are copies of original works of art. All of them are dedicated to helping us live according to unconditional love and compassion, which is the foundation of our peaceful means of bringing true and lasting peace to all of God's creatures, whether they are human beings or other animals.

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

(Artwork - 153)
Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

A while ago I was asked to do a painting of the Canvasback. I came up with a version of this painting but when it was reproduced as a cover of a journal I didn’t much like the appearance. I think the colours of the water did not register well in contrast to the bird. It was an acrylic painting, and so I went over the entire painting again, in translucent oil paints, making subtle changes that I think significantly improved the end result, seen here.

The Canvasback is named after the white back of the male in breeding plumage. The female, which I have shown with some of her newly hatched brood, is browner. Canvasbacks are in the same genus as scaups and pochards, and have the most extremely sloped beak and forehead of any of duck, although, of course, that feature is not evident from the angle I’ve shown the bird, looking down from above.

Canvasbacks nest in sloughs and potholes of the prairies of North America, north, particularly in the west, as far north as the arctic circle. They’ve been known to nest in other areas and I suspect if they were not so heavily hunted as they are their range would expand eastward into suitable habitat. The are a solid, compact bird, at home in cold weather, although in winter some travel as far south as southern Mexico. But, as a youngster in the 1950s, I saw my first ones out on the ice and snow rimmed marshes of Lake Erie and I’ve always since then sort of romanticized them as tough and rugged, fast-flying migrants, their streamlined shapes and rapid wingbeats as they fly low over the water portraying, to my eyes, a sense of freedom and wildness. However, I’m probably not alone; that’s how many artists show them, and so, always interested in originality, I decided to show a domestic scene, the hen with some of her ducklings, and at an angle not often seen, even though I had to sacrifice showing that lovely sloping profile of the species. They lay five to eleven eggs.

They exist at levels lower than they used to, but are not endangered and easily found in my region, in the lower Great Lakes, during spring and fall migration. They dive for various forms of food, such as mollusks, but are particularly noted for eating sago pondweed (Stukenia pectinate) and wild celery (Vallisneria americana) in the winter, their taste for the latter food reflected in the specific part of their scientific name, “valisineria”. This mixed media acrylic and oil painting is on birch panel and is approximately 20” X 16”.

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Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
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