Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Rich Colors of Fall (Birds)

Palm Warbler at Manayunk Canal. Watercolor by Ken Januski.

Yes, everyone knows, and the lucky few appreciate the rich colors of fall. They seem a bit of a reward for the cold grays and browns that will be here soon. But occasionally you also find a bird that takes part in the rich splendor.

Such is the case with the eastern race of the Palm Warbler. The western race is much duller. And the eastern race in spring is very bright. But there aren't too many more richly colored birds, outside of perhaps some ducks, at this time of year.

As I walked along the Manayunk Canal and Schuylkill River this very brisk but sunny morning I decided to take a detour into a junky field, once an asphalt lot I think, that is now dominated by wild chamomile and who knows what other plants. Burs of some sort because I always leave covered in them. And sparrows.

But rarely warblers. I don't think I've ever seen Palm Warblers there though this certainly is the time for them. In any case a good number of them were there amidst the very rich, orange, red, yellow and purple foliage. I took a number of photos and determined that when I got home I'd find the time to do a watercolor. Not a watercolor sketch this time, but a finished watercolor.

It is 7x10 inches on Arches 140# cold press paper. I'm once again reminded that I think a well done watercolor is without a doubt the most difficult medium in two dimensions. It is so easy to turn it into mud. I was afraid many times that I'd done that here. But I think in the end that I've gotten the rich colors of the foliage and the handsome Palm Warbler.

Before I'd even gotten my binoculars out of the back of the car when I arrived this morning a mature Bald Eagle flew by, over the Schuylkill River. That I think was an omen that it would be a good day for birding and for art.

Addendum. After I'd posted this I looked at watercolor again and noticed how much duller the actual watercolor looked. Part of this is due to the nature of viewing anything on a computer screen and the heightened brightness that occurs. But the rest was due I think to the drying of the watercolors. So this morning I scanned what I think is a more accurate, but slightly less rich, version of the watercolor.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reconciling Naturalism and Abstraction

Dead Tree Along Kankakee River. Lithograph by Ken Januski.

The recent sale of an older abstract work, Chesnut Park Number 16, along with the completion of a watercolor sketch of a juvenile Purple Finch based on a sighting last week reminded me of how much my art has often fluctuated between abstraction and naturalism and/or realism.

In looking for a very old etching I did that married abstraction and naturalism to some extent I ran across the lithograph pictured above. I've never formally studied woodblock or linoleum block printing, my current printing media. My first actual study of printmaking was in the basement of the UC Berkeley Student Union, thus the name of my etsy store berkeleySU, and the subject was lithography.

Since I did strictly abstract art for so many years after getting my MA from Berkeley and only recently turned to naturalism I'm always a but surprised to see something like the print above. Obviously there is a realistic subject but I tried to hide it pretty well, concentrating instead of both composition and the process of lithography, experimenting to see what types of marks I could get. Still I did like the idea of combining the two. I hope that perhaps this explains a bit why I continue to stay away from naturalism that is particularly straightforward.

Chestnut Park Number 16. Charcoal Drawing by Ken Januski.

When I moved to Philadelphia around 30 years ago my first works were abstract charcoal drawings like the one pictured above. It's 23x29 inches and titled Chestnut Park Number 16. The entire series was called Chestnut Park, Chestnut because my studio was on Chestnut Street almost next door to the Ben Franklin Hotel, and park because I felt that my shapes were getting more organic, like critters you might see in a park.

I've always liked this work even though I no longer work in this style. Because I'm still quite fond of it and think that it is of high quality I also have some of it for sale on a separate etsy store, OldAndAbstract. I was happily surprised to sell my first work from that store just recently.

Juvenile Purple Finch in Dogwood. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski.

As I've said here more than once before when I got disgusted with the contemporary art world and could no longer see a viable place for myself in it I eventually turned to naturalism, first insects found in the garden and drawn while viewed under a dissecting microscope and finally birds, in about 2006. I quickly realized how little I knew about birds, even though I'd been birding for 10 years or so at that point. It has been a long struggle to be able to understand them and to be able to draw or paint them successfully.

Soon after I started I realized I'd get nowhere working from photos and that I needed to work from life in order to truly understand birds. Easier said than done but I can say that today I'm at least somewhat comfortable working from life. And because of that I'm also more comfortable working from my own photos when there's a compelling need. The small watercolor sketch above is such an instance. We rarely see Purple Finches in Philadelphia. But last Sunday we saw four at the Andorra Natural Area, an adult male and female and two juveniles. I have to assume that they were a migrating family but that could easily be wrong. I wanted to be certain of their ID so I spent most of my time taking photos and one sketching. But the image stuck with me.

I particularly was struck by the scruffy plumage of the juvenile above. So yesterday and today I did this watercolor and pencil sketch based on one of the photos. I'd like to do something that combines both adults and juvenile but that is a bit ambitious so I'm not sure when I'll actually take it up.

When I do though, most likely once again I'll try to reconcile abstraction and naturalism. Who knows what might turn up?

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Gray Catbird with Walnuts Version I. Multi-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.
Gray Catbird with Walnuts Version II. Multi-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.

I really wasn't sure how I'd name the post with the final edition(s) of the Gray Catbird with Walnuts woodcut. But the excitement of seeing birds, especially hawks, in flight today at Houston Meadows provided the answer: Flight.

I'm sure that there are many people who first get interested in birds through an admiration, perhaps even envy, of their ability to fly. I've never been one of those for better or worse, perhaps because I just have never seen all that many hawks in flight. But when you do see them soaring, like the juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk shown below, it is quite a sight. The sense of elegance, excitement, power is quite striking.

So I determined that I'd call the post Flight. I suppose it's a good thing that I'm happy with the woodcuts. Otherwise I might have needed to try something like Dive. But I am happy with the results so the title stays.

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk at Houston Meadows. Photo by Ken Januski.

As I said previously I printed on two types of paper, partially because I had a half sheet of Rives Heavyweight to use up. Once I started experimenting with the background color I decided it made sense to make the 12 prints on Shin Torinoko paper one color, yellow, and the 6 prints on Rives Heavyweight another, sort of gray olive. I've always preferred the yellow one but there's also something that I like about the more subdued olive gray print. Both images are 4x6 inches and the entire print is 7x9 inches.

They are now up for sale on my Etsy site(see link at right). I've also added some photos and an explanation of the process involved on my Facebook site(also in link at right).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two Versions of Gray Catbird Woodcut

Gray Catbird with Walnuts. Two Versions State Four of Multi-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.

I realized that my fear of a background that was too dull were coming true the other day so I decided to experiment with a third block for the background. I was already printing on two types of paper, Shin Torinoko and Rives Heavyweight so I decided to also try different background colors on each paper type.

Originally I tried the yellow on proofing paper and I loved it. It seemed to liven up the print without taking away any of its simplicity. But when I added a bit of black to get a greener yellow and in fact got a very toned down green gray I still liked it. They are almost like a summer catbird and an autumn catbird.

The real test will be when I print the first black block on top. The thin lines have broken numerous times so far as have the lines created with wood putty to replace them, also multiple times. So I feel like I'm Kurt Gibson trying to limp into home plate in the World Series many years ago. If I can only hold that black block together long enough to finish the print!!

It will be at least a day before I dare print on top of this since even today the underlying ink was a bit wet. So perhaps it's time for a drawing with a brush break tomorrow. Time will tell.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Taking Artistic Liberties with Historical Markers

Baptismal Marker from 1723 along Wissahickon. Photo by Ken Januski.

When I quickly sketched the Gray Catbird who is the subject of my woodcut in progress I didn't really pay much attention to what he was standing on while he closely guarded his walnuts. I just tried to capture the pose of the bird. Today I happened to pass by the exact same area, with at least one walnut still in place but no Gray Catbird.

I was quite surprised to see what I eventually made the stump of a tree in the print was actually a very old historical marker, from 1723 no less!! Well my apologies to history and historical markers but I think that the tree trunk works better in the woodcut below. Still it is, at least to me, a thoughtful moment when I happen upon something that refers to events of 300 years ago. Of course the metamorphic rocks that litter the Wissahickon are just a bit older. How about 500 million years?! That is the claim of this study. It can be a humbling experience to see rocks that were formed that long ago.

Gray Catbird with Walnuts. Multi-block Woodcut Proof by Ken Januski.

Today I proofed the third color of the woodblock, not counting the black that will go on top. Anyone who is familiar with Gray Catbirds will know that their undertail coverts are a brilliant rusty brown, in stark contrast to the charcoal gray of most of the rest of their body. From the first I planned on incorporating that into the print. Later I decided that I might also use it in the tree trunk/ex-historical marker.

This is just a proof on earlier copier paper proofs. But it is getting closer. Once I decide on whether to change the color or shape of this color then I'll proceed to print the black on top of everything. Hopefully it will hold everything together. And I hope as well that it won't be too dull. I didn't remove the background thoroughly in the fairly recent crouching green heron print thinking that it might add to the print. When I discovered in the process that a plain background would be better it was too late. So almost from the first I've decided to keep this background plain, just the color of the paper. Time will tell whether that will work or leave the print looking flat and dull.

Gray Catbird with Walnuts. Multi-block Woodcut Proof by Ken Januski.

The morning after posting this I did a quick proof of the black block on top of the proofs from the colored blocks. So the final print will probably look somewhat like this. There is a lot of sloppiness in the proofs that will disappear to a large extent in the final print. For now I'm just trying to sort through the final decisions on color and shape. And of course the possible problem of the background just being too dull.

Chicken of  the Woods Tree Fungus. Photo by Ken Januski.

But dullness is not a problem in the photo above. I ran across this scene today along the Wissahickon as well. What a brilliant orange. I confess I know little about mushrooms and fungi. But a quick search for 'bright, orange tree fungi' when I got home convinced me that this is what is known as Chicken of the Woods mushroom, I assume because it tastes like chicken. Well as I said I know nothing about mushrooms so we're not having it for supper tonight. But you can't help but admire it for its visual beauty. On a cloudy day like today it was a burst of sunshine in the dark green foliage of the vegetation and the dark black of a fallen tree.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Picture Perfect Every Time

Gray Catbird with Walnuts. Early Proof of Multi-block Woodcut by Ken Januski.

That's the lot of the printmaker, even a part-time one like myself. No matter what you do it turns out Picture Perfect. Well not quite. I've always been a bit scared off of printmaking and printmakers I think because there seems to be far too much concern with technique in the field, almost like an arcane religion.

But the thing is that there are just so many things that can go wrong with printmaking that it's easy to become concerned with technique. I've already run into two of them with this print. First because I've used a black block composed primarily of thin outlines to tie everything together there's always the possibility that one of those thin lines will break, and end up lost on the floor with all the other intentional cuttings. That happened not just once but FOUR times! I think I know why but I won't go into details. It has meant finding a way to repair the lines.

A second problem involved inking up just a small area of the woodblock, for instance the green of the walnuts.  Sometimes I can just ink up the entire block knowing that some areas will be covered by a second color. That is the case with the gray here. I printed the entire second block in gray. There is one area where I would have preferred not to have the gray underneath, since it will affect whatever color is printed on top of it, but I decided I could live with it.

Sometimes I'll print the color and then wipe off areas that shouldn't get that color with a rag before I place the print on top and rub the ink into it. That was a possibility here with the green walnuts. But I didn't think I'd be able to clean up the aberrant green successfully. So instead I tried a stencil or mask. This is something I've experimented with before but not too successfully. In any case I tried it here by cutting out a section of mylar the same size as the print. The result is above on a trial proof. I'm still deciding whether I can live with it or should redo it before I print it on the actual edition.

So as you can see it's sometimes easy to get lost in technique when it comes to prints. I really try to stay away from it as much as possible. To me it never adds anything to a print. But it may help save a print, i.e. repair one.

When I print I experiment quite a bit on the way to the final edition. In the 4x6 (7x9 with border) proof above I first printed the second block, which will have all of the colors, in gray. I then printed the first block, consisting mainly of black lines, on top of it. After I'd cut the stencil I decided to print the green of the second block on top. This won't happen when I make the actual print. But for now I just wanted to get a quick look at what it might look like. The black lines, at least as far as my picture perfect plan foresees it, will be printed on top of everything else. So here there would be a black outline around the green walnuts instead of underneath the green.

In the end there's a lot of imagination and guesswork involved. I'm guessing what all of this will look like when I'm done. Of course it won't turn out that way, or is very unlikely to, and I'll then need to improvise. And perhaps I'll have to resort to technique once more to salvage what I've done. If that doesn't work there's always rationalization.

In other news sparrows and butterflies seem to be the most exciting visitors in the natural world right now. I'd love to have the time to do and show some artwork based on them but that will just have to wait.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Carving Catbirds and Walnuts

Gray Catbird with Walnuts. Early Woodcut Proof by Ken Januski.

Just as I enjoyed returning to watercolor a few weeks ago I've also enjoyed returning to carving woodblocks over the last two days. I guess it keeps things fresh. In any case above is step two in the early stages of a multi-block woodcut. I'm sure it will be multi-block because I want to use a separate block to print the gray of the bird, the rust of his undertail coverts and the green of the walnuts.

I was also looking through some of my older woodcuts and realize that I do like some of the ones that have outlines around the subject, as in the Piping Plovers. I realize that most of my newer prints are moving away from what might be called a recognizable scene toward something more graphic, linear and perhaps abstract. That's fine. I've realized that by keeping the outlines fairly accurate I can feel that I've been true to the bird without getting bogged down in detail. Then I can be much freer in other ways, perhaps color or texture or composition.

Gray Catbird, House Sparrow, et. al. Field Sketches  by Ken Januski.

I happened upon a squawking Gray Catbird a couple of days ago along the Wisshickon. He was feeding as far as I could tell on some broken walnut husks. I loved his strong pose and open bill. I also liked the fact that the pose showed how small his wings are, something that always surprises me since they are fairly large birds. In any case this seemed like a prototypical pose and I tried to capture it immediately after seeing it in the sketch above.

Gray Catbird with Walnuts. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski

When I got home I decided to do a watercolor sketch based on the field sketch but also incorporating information from my photos of Gray Catbirds. The end result is the woodcut above. So far I'm quite pleased with how it's worked out. More than anything it has a good sense of the pose of the catbird as he squawked out his displeasure with my intrusion. The sketch above give some sense of how I expect the colors to develop. The smudge in the upper left by the way is a very blobby Northern Flicker where I just used too much water. I ignored him as I sketched the Gray Catbird.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Surprise Harvest and a Great Egret on One Leg

Harvester Butterfly at Manayunk Canal. Photo by Ken Januski.

It was such a beautiful, though cool, day today that I went out birding twice, once in the morning by myself and later in early afternoon with Jerene. Broadwings low overhead started the day at Houston Meadows and they were followed by numerous sparrows, though many of them I just couldn't see enough of to identify. Perhaps a Lincoln's and then again perhaps not.

In any case seeing so many sparrows seemed perfect for the first day of fall. The seasons are changing and so are the flora and fauna. The real surprise of the day though were 4-5 of the butterflies pictured above. A Harvester, the only carnivorous American butterfly. My first thought, as we saw them along the Manayunk Canal, was that it was a skipper that I wasn't familiar with. When I checked my guides back home though I realized it wasn't a skipper. Nor a checkerspot, nor a crescent. Eventually I realized that it was a Harvester. And the guides said they were rare enough to be quite a nice find. So there it was: a surprise Harvester on the first day of what I consider harvest season.

Eastern-tailed Blues and Duskywings were also about as were a number of Slaty Skipper dragonflies which I've seen the last few times I've visited the Manayunk Canal. We didn't really see as many birds as I would have liked but I can't at all complain. Today was just a day to enjoy being out and alive, regardless of what birds, butterflies and dragonflies we saw.

Great Egret on One Leg.Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski.

I haven't stopped my practice of doing a watercolor sketch of birds that I've drawn in the field. About a week ago I saw this lone Great Egret at Morris Arboretum, standing on one leg for much of the time. This is a quick watercolor rendering of that scene. I made him  a bit too big to fit comfortably on the paper. And yet at the end of the painting I think it worked just fine. This is another drawing with a brush watercolor.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The More Work The Better the Art, Not

Mallard Ducklings on Tire in Manayunk Canal. Watercolor by Ken Januski.

During my many years as an abstract artist my goal was often to 'get into a groove', 'get in the zone', etc., etc. To a non-artist this may sound precious and pretentious. But I think many people understand what it means through their own experience, be it as a second baseman on the baseball field, a computer programmer, a composer, a visual artist or many other occupations.

It means I think that you're able to move effortlessly from one step to the next in accomplishing your task, generally without even thinking about it. The process almost seems automatic. Occasionally of course, at least for artists, the next day shows that though you thought you were in the zone, you in fact were in left field and what you did makes no sense. But most of the time I think it's a valid explanation of a creative state. And it's one that many people to aspire to, not as some out of body experience but just because it means you're being successful at your job. It's being creative without work or bouts of doubt. There is no writer's block . Everything flows.

Because I experienced that often as an abstract artist, even though I didn't get quite the critical recognition I thought the work deserved, it still remains my goal as a naturalist artist. It may explain partially why I tire so quickly of much wildlife art.

So much wildlife art seems to be considered successful based on the amount of work involved. What a horrible, horrible thought. What a sad, Puritanical way to evaluate art. I mainly thought of this theme because of the watercolor above, one that obviously doesn't have a lot of work in it. In I've tried to make it look effortless, not so much because it means it's easier for me, in fact the opposite, but because I think the best art seems effortless. Artists may understand the amount of work that goes into making something seem effortless but my guess is most of the audience doesn't. But they do enjoy it.

In any case every once in awhile I try to make my watercolors seem effortless. This generally fails. They look more like the morning after in the zone paintings that are really deep in left field instead. But it's a worthy goal I think. In fact for me there's no other reason to use watercolor as a medium except to get that sense of effortless beauty that the best watercolorists, like Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent have.

So that is the origin of the 7x10 watercolor on Arches 140# rough watercolor paper above.  The rough texture is very hard to deal with and seems to make clean strokes quite difficult. But still I like to occasionally attempt this type of watercolor on it. I believe that if I pursue this method I will eventually be able to really get in the zone with watercolor. I already do that with prints but I'd also like to be able to do it with a painting medium.

As I thought about this idea of effortlessness I also realized that to many, if not most, people who view this watercolor it will seem like a failure, one where I didn't put any work into it. But work is the sum of all your experience. If a major league pitcher strikes out batter after batter it rarely looks like he's working hard. But there was many years of work earlier in his career. It's when athletes look like they're working that they generally are being unsuccessful, not just in appearance but in fact. I remember seeing muscle-bound male swimmers flailing with all their might in the outdoor pool at UC Berkeley when I was a student there while women half their size flew by them, seemingly without effort. They understood how to swim. The muscle-bound men didn't. Their muscles just got in the way. They worked too hard.

The best example of the work behind effortless-looking results I think is Oriental brush painting. But outside of taking a class in the practice of it years ago in San Francisco I've never really studied it. What I do know though is that there are often very few brushstrokes involved. But they have to be deft and work in relation to one another. All the work is in the years of practice, of trial and error. You can't see it in the final painting, which in fact to many will look insubstantial. But to the more observant it's the seemingly effortless beauty that is the most important aspect of the art.

I was reminded of this perverse notion of work making art better when I read the new Birds In Art catalog. One artist mentioned doing 'monks work' as he did a very detailed background. Another mentioned painting every feather of a Great Blue Heron. Artists should have every right to do what they want. Perhaps this type of work in tremendously rewarding to the artists involved. But I can't at all give it any extra value for the 'work' involved. I'd much prefer that work be invisible. I prefer the graceful swimmers to the muscle-bound ones whose effort is concentrated on the down-stroke rather than the stroke that moves you forward.

Female Common Yellowthroat. Field Sketch and Watercolor Sketch.

Enough on the subject of work and art! I did want to show a couple recent sketches as well. Above is a field sketch of a female Common Yellowthroat, one of many that I saw at Houston Meadows this morning. Below it a quick watercolor sketch that I did when I got home, based mainly on the field sketch above. I'm continuing with this practice of trying to do something a bit more detailed and in color of whatever I've sketched in the field.

Marsh Wrens. Watercolor Wash Sketches by Ken Januski.

A few days ago I did these brush drawings from some photos I took of Marsh Wrens at Jake's Landing in New Jersey this June. As soon as I did I recalled the bird sketches of JA Shepherd in John Busby's book Drawing Birds. Unfortunately I can't find any online links to the drawing. But I did find it interesting how I, and my guess most artists, have an encyclopedia of images in their memory of birds, bird art, and other art that they've seen throughout their lives.

Friday, September 12, 2014

More Warblers, and Birds In Art 2014

Chestnut-sided Warbler and Veery. Field Sketches and Watercolor Sketches by Ken Januski.

There has been a flurry of migrant activity in the last few days, much of it centered around the berries of Devil's Walkingstick. On Wednesday thrushes, mainly Veeries and American Robins, but also one Wood Thrush dominated the early part of mywalk, while warblers and vireos dominated the last part.

Today I started an hour later than usual and found fewer thrushes. But the warblers and vireos were still manically feeding,  some on Devil's Walkingstick but others elsewhere, including a Red-eyed Vireo in the huge and bright red fruit of the Umbrella Magnolia. If  you're alert and doing more than just checking species off a list, now is the time when you can find a lot of interest in what the migrant birds are eating. Spicebush fruit are also popular, as are of course all of the insects on them and other plants.

As I said in last post I really do have enough photos of most species. So I tried to concentrate on looking and sketching today. It was hard as both warblers and vireos were hyperactive. Finally I'd seen enough Chestnut-sided Warblers that I thought I could risk a field sketch from memory as seen at the top of photo above. It was alright but seemed off in ways. So after getting home I looked very briefly at one of my field guides then did the very small watercolor sketch on the bottom of page above.

It's very small but I'm happy with it, though I did mistakenly paint olive green where the white throat should be. I know artists who often do slightly more developed works as soon as they can after getting back from sketching birds in the field. It seems like a good idea, especially if you can use the field sketches as the basis of it and not rely much on photos and guides. I think that help keeps it simple, unified and fresh.  (A day latter and I saw a Veery while out walking. I added a field sketch of it above and then a quick watercolor based on it when I got home, as seen on right hand page above).

Speaking of simple, unified and fresh I received the catalog from Birds in Art today, a show I've been rejected from for about 10 years now. I'm not even sure why I apply any more. And I always have to steel myself to open up the catalog and look at it. I know my reaction will be immediate dislike at the timidity and formulaic quality of much of the work, and stronger dislike at the photographic origins of even more.

I wasn't quite as apprehensive today because I knew that the featured artist, and Master Artist for 2014, is Barry Van Dusen. His  work is simple, unified and fresh, in the best sense of all of those words. And I wasn't disappointed. Such refreshing work and a refreshing essay on his work by artist Darren Rees. I wouldn't be surprised even if a little bit of influence of those watercolors didn't make it into the tiny sketch of the Chestnut-sided Warbler above.

I go nuts when I look at BIA catalogs, wishing that just once I'd find a happy surprise in one of them. I almost never do. There were one or two today, though none that just knocked me over as happened the first time I saw work from The Society of Wildlife Artists. But the work and the essay on the work of Barry Van Dusen certainly brightened my day.

As I've written before I'll continue to look at the catalog and eventually find in looking at the work and in reading what artists have written about their work that I can appreciate far more than I can at first, second and third glance. But I do wish that one day I'd open it up and be knocked off my feet.  I'm definitely not holding my breath.

After I'd finished this I realized that I can sound extremely negative about bird art and Birds in Art. So I thought it made sense to add a bit more about this catalog. There is much competent art in it. That itself is an accomplishment. And I suppose that's why, over time, I find that I can find much to appreciate in each catalog, even if I don't really like it.

But I do like some work and I decided to name artists who struck me right off the bat:

John Busby
James Coe
Peter Elfman
Anne Senechal Faust
Andrew Haslen
Lars Jonssson
Johannes Nevala
Andrea Rich

I should add that I was already fond of all of the above artists with the exception of Johannes Nevala. I was newly struck by him. If I wasn't already familiar with the others I'm sure at least some of them would have knocked me over. The Andrea Rich woodcut was the opposite in that it grows on me each time I look at it. Some of this is very rich work.

There were some others who are not as much to my taste perhaps but whose qualities I can't and wouldn't want to deny. They are striking in their own way:

William Althier
Robert Bateman
Jim Bortz
Kathleen Dunphy
Cindy House
James Morgan
Sean Murtha
Peter Nilsson
Thomas Quinn
Maynard Reece(pretty bold for 94!)
Chirag V. Thumbar
Sherrie York

I haven't mentioned sculpture mainly because I'm not as familiar with it. In general though I find that  I like it more than much of the two dimensional art. I'm not sure why that is but I wouldn't be surprised if it's because it seems more direct and less mediated by the numbness of photography. Certainly there is far more abstraction in the sculpture than in the two dimensional work and this seems true year after year.

In naming names like this I know that anyone who reads this and happens to be in the show might be disappointed especially if I don't mention them, though most will have no idea who I am, nor care. As I said most of the work is competent. And in a week I'm sure I could add many more artists to the second group. Perhaps even in 15 minutes after posting this.

Perhaps this year's show is better than average.  I do find that I seem to like more and am pulling my hair out about less. But I do wish I'd find more exciting work. Perhaps that is asking too much, particularly given the stranglehold that photography has had on American wildlife art for so long.