Beautiful Great Blue Heron En Plein Air Painting at the Charles River
She wasn’t out for blood; she was out for solitude. Any morning when a heron wins its skirmish and achieves solitude is a good morning for a heron. And solitude is what I crave in the mornings, too.
Wildlife is shy and fast and elusive and unpredictable – Great Blue Herons especially so. They usually erupt into flight at the first sensing of an approaching human.
I am shy by nature and photography is a solitary endeavor for me. I don’t join outings by birders, I don’t do camera club trips, and I don’t go on Audubon excursions, as wonderful as they all may be. I don’t even take friends canoeing or kayaking any more. (I did that twice and both times they talked too much and too loudly and scared off the Herons.) I steer clear of other boats on the water to keep a good distance away because, after all, even the fishermen need and deserve their space.
So, imagine my dismay upon arriving at the Charles River dam that morning to see a big splash of color looming over the ancient grinding wheel across from the fish ladder. There would be no Great Blue Herons that day.
Taking in the entire scene, though, dismay quickly turned to joy.
What came into view was first one, then two, then three, then four artists set up in 19th century vignettes with easels under brightly-colored umbrellas. They were spaced a good distance from each other, all with a differing vantage point of the river and dam and old stone bridge where the Herons fish.
One of the painters in particular called to mind a scene from the mid-1800s as she gazed out over the lush water lilies floating above the dam, paints at the ready, paintbrush in hand.
The bridge in this photo below was constructed in the mid-19th century, around the same time that the cyanotype process came into vogue. There is a palpable timelessness to this location and the artists and easels enhanced that feeling. I can easily imagine a 19th century painter or photographer capturing an ancestor of one of the Great Blue Herons that frequent the area today.
I chose this 19th century style cyanoprint series “Charles River Blues” for one of my exhibits at TCAN because the Summer Street Gallery, itself, is from that same 19th century period.
The fish ladder with artist, above. I would have loved to see what her painting looked like.
There are many schools of painting. Some artists paint on location, en plein air, some in a studio. Some paint stunningly realistic scenes and some fantastic figments of their own imagining. Some artists take a snapshot out in the world and then paint from the photo instead of from life.
Is it cheating to paint a landscape from a photograph of a scene?
What do you think?
Rosemary Morelli teaches painting including en plain air style at her studio in eastern Massachusetts. The artists painting at the dam that day were a few of her students.
This post is dedicated to the Lens Artist ladies (Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya) and to Cee Neuner, all of whom encourage and inspire.
This week, the Lens Artists focus on Distance.
From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 90: Distance .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 90: Distance .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 90: Distance .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 90: Distance .
Last week, the Lens Artists focused on A River Runs Through It. I hope they forgive me for a second submission.
From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 89: A River Runs Through the City.
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 89: River .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 89: A River Runs Through It .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 89: A River Runs Through It .
Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy.
From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were once again on display on the walls of the lobby and theater in a free one-woman show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.
Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?
Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.
During September and October, 2018, the Great Blue Herons were featured on the walls of the Natick Town Hall, located at 13 East Central Street in Natick, MA.
Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™
The Tao of Feathers™
© 2020 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)
Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Posted on March 29, 2020, in ardea herodias, Art, Birds, Fine art, Great Blue Heron, Landscape, Monochrome Monday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged # Lens-Artists, #natick, Charles River Watershed, heron, postaday, TCAN. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.