There's a fabulous exhibit of the original art of Robert Verity Clem up right now at Massachusetts Audubon's Visual Arts Center in Canton. Bob painted birds, true, but he painted them in context, as you'd see them, in all the right places and in all the most stunning light regimes. The last time I was in his studio, and it was long ago, he was painting corvids against the light. Crows and ravens, more crows and ravens, and each painting made me take my breath in. They were places you could be, slants of light you knew, and then there were the birds, doing things and flashing wings.
As part of the observances, I've been asked to give a couple of presentations at the VAC. Bob was a very important person in my development as a bird painter, giving guidance to my process and product in the 1980's and '90's. Of course I stared holes in the only widely published examples of his work, in Peter Mattheissen's Shorebirds of North America. But it was his hands-on critique of my stuff that really made an impression. He showed me how to go to the living bird to paint what is true. I'm so thankful to have fallen under his influence. It changed the course of my life.
Though I feel wholly unworthy of being called a protege of Bob's, I leapt at the chance to come to Massachusetts in November, and agreed to speak a bit about that influence and the arc of my work. I'll spend this week working on the illustrated talks, and I can't wait!
Here's the scoop:
The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common BirdsSaturday, Nov 12, 2pmJulie Zickefoose, artist and writer, was mentored by Bob Clem in the 1980s. She will talk about how that experience shaped her life with birds: studying, painting, healing them when they’re broken, and mothering them when they’re orphaned.Painting Birds with Julie ZickefooseSunday, Nov 13, 11amHave you ever wondered how an artist goes about gathering inspiration and reference for a painting? How a painting is done, from the first sketches to the final wash? How an artist manages to make a living drawing and painting natural history subjects? Widely-published artist Julie Zickefoose opens her sketchbooks, studio, and gallery fora walk-through in this slide talk.
To register for these programs, call the Mass Audubon Visual Arts Center, at 781-821-8853 It's at 963 Washington Street, Canton, MA 02021.
I am TOTALLY excited about this trip. All fluttery. How often do I get over to the East Coast? Like, nevah. God willing and the river don't rise and it don't snow two feet and the power stays on, there will be an aviary of terrific modern bird artists present at these talks, any one of whom can paint rings around me. The discussion ought to be lively and fun. These are my best buddies. So give them a call and come on down, and tell the nice people at the VAC that I sent you. And don't forget to blurt "BLOG!" when we meet!