A Different Kind Of Tale
Adventures of a Wild Care Volunteer, by Amy Sanders
All of my tales, since I began writing for Wild Care, have been about animal contacts. It is true that I do regular shifts feeding baby birds, shifts feeding baby squirrels, field rescues for the Outer Cape, and have even embarked on doing talks with the owls and Garv.
This month though, I’ve decided (with encouragement from Stephanie), to share another area of my wildlife work—and that is painting wildlife.
I’m not really sure how many of you know that outside of volunteering for Wild Care, I am a pastel painter as my career. Well, my second career actually. Not being sure of an artist’s life being capable of keeping me housed and fed, I worked yet another passion for 33 years, that of being a special education teacher here on the Cape. I maintained my career as an artist in the background (23 years showing at the Addison Art Gallery in Orleans) but a few years ago, I early retired from the teaching to pursue full time my loves of art and animals, and of course create more family time.
Then, in 2018, “Swooping in for Wild Care” came along, spearheaded by myself and Canadian artist SaraJane Doberstein. This was a joint venture between Addison Art Gallery (which supports many local charitable groups and causes) and Wild Care. Our goal was to bring together many talented artists to draw attention to the care of wildlife and our fragile environment, while also raising much needed funds for Wild Care’s work. It was a great success, and so we repeated it in 2019.
In truth, I haven’t painted much wildlife until the last year or so. Back in 2008 I painted a playing North Atlantic Humpback Whale, and was fortunate to sell it. I’ve done oodles of pet portraits in the interim (including one for the auction of Wild Winter Night in 2018), but haven’t really dabbled in wildlife until a few years ago. Why?
Well, my style is very detailed, and I’ve found myself lacking in my ability to get good wildlife shots to work from. Being accurate in details feels critically important for me, and if I can’t get those fine details right, I’d rather not do it at all. But with the creation of “Swooping in for Wild Care,” I started to get a desire to branch out from my typical landscape/seascape work, and add some wildlife work.
As a result, I armed myself with a new and niftier camera, as well as assistance from some generous folks who have the really fancy gear, and I began with a few birds. First, 2 Cardinals (a male and a female), then a Hummingbird, then a Blue Jay, and finally a Cedar Waxwing. For all of these pieces my full profit went to Wild Care.
Stephanie asked me what motivates my painting of wildlife? It’s actually very hard to say what motivates any of my painting. I tend to get a spiritually super-charged feeling, when I see certain things in nature, and the desire to paint it is irrepressible. I have little interest in still life, or portraiture (well, occasionally kids, but usually their play, not their faces). But Nature is like an energy source for my soul. When I’m down, a walk to the beach or through the woods usually does the trick. I rarely travel anywhere without my camera so I can capture the scene when that super-charged excitement happens and then, later in the studio, I can recreate the feeling when I’m painting it.
This year, “Swooping in for Wild Care” will wear a slightly different hat, with COVID concerns keeping us physically distanced. It will instead, be a “Wild Week,” July 16-22. SaraJane is sadly unable to come (Canadian/US border still closed), but I will be doing a demonstration on the lawn of the gallery (43 South Orleans Road, Orleans) on Friday, July 17 at 11:00, and would love to see you there*. Talking, questions, and sharing of wildlife (or art) stories is always welcomed!
My newest is “Pine Warbler,” depicting a newcomer to my bird feeder this year. Its 8” square, and rendered in pastel.
*If you do plan to come, and I hope you do, email [email protected] to reserve your spot. For everyone’s health, physical distancing and masks required!
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