BLOG 005 Migration : Natural Selections--Observations on Art and Nature
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Images of all paintings copyrighted by Minnesota artist Jim Rataczak © 2012

BLOG 005 Migration

by Jim Rataczak on 04/30/12

The bi-annual bird migration is something everyone should experience. It is a truly a sight to behold when swarms of ducks or long skeins of geese fill the skies each autumn. And then there's the spring migration:   Simply one of the most spectacular events any of us can ever witness in nature.

In spring, birds are plumed in their Sunday best, and their natural secretiveness is swamped by their zeal to establish territories and woo mates, resulting in potentially perfect conditions for the field artist!  Especially cooperative can be the waterfowl, which are among the first migrants to arrive on our marsh each spring.  In some years, it’s like the Easter Bunny has left a big, new batch of brilliantly-colored treasure bobbing in the water and loafing on the ice edges. 

I love to take my scope out, set up a little blind, and sketch.  Sometimes there is so much going on that I find myself in a sort of migration-induced attention deficit-disorder.  I’ll be sketching one bird, get pulled away by another, start drawing that, see something else, and then be pulled away yet again.  This loop can continue ad infintum.

Sometimes, though, I do manage to retain focus, and drawings can come less clumsily.  Unfortunately, this tends to be more the exception than the rule, and non-practitioners of the craft of field sketching would likely raise an eyebrow at the effort and time that I put into it.  But when it does happen, I often feel like I am completely absorbed into the surroundings; a part of, rather than apart from, the natural world.  I can come in from a session in the field with endless ideas for paintings, way more than one lifetime could accomodate.

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