|"Dinner Party," reduction linocut, 18" x 18", edition of 18|
Well, hello there! I'm a little bit leery about making the following statement, a little superstitious about "jinxing" things, but I think I am finally coming out of the long, dark tunnel that has been the last few months.
In a making-art-for-a-living life there are always ups and downs. Ideas, and enthusiasm for them, wax and wane. But this year? Wow. This year there has been a whole lot of wane.
The good news is that I've started to kick around some new ideas and putter around in the studio again. In fact today I started to draw up a new lino and prep the paper for it. That hasn't happened in a while.
There's nothing yet to show for the effort, however, so while I'm stirring that particular pot I thought it would be nice to thaw out the periodic "What's-It-All-About Wednesday" posts. And since I've been seeing a lot of buffleheads around lately... well... let's take a look at Dinner Party.
This piece is a couple of years old, but it remains a favorite. Two pair of buffleheads have come together to ride the swells and search for a meal; in fact one of the females has already found a tasty appetizer.
Small and feisty, buffleheads are constantly in motion. Back in Colorado I always had a heckuva time deciding exactly how many buffies were overwintering on my local pond, since I could never be sure I was seeing all of them on the surface of the water at the same time. Pop up! Down! Up! Down! Constantly.
It's challenging to suggest all that busy-ness in the sort of stop-motion view of an image on paper, but I tried to do so by ramping up the color and texture of the water and by giving the birds very alert postures. They could all dive back down to the underwater buffet line at any moment.
Interestingly (I think), buffleheads are cavity nesters. That's right. A bird that spends all of its time on and in the water... raises its young in holes in trees. And if you've never watched day-old ducklings leap out of a tall tree... well. You owe it to yourself to spend some time on YouTube, at least.
Because they are so small they can (and do) take advantage of old flicker holes, and they will also use nest boxes. Here in the United States most of us have to be content with seeing them only in the winter, however, as the bulk of their breeding range is in central and western Canada, up in to Alaska. But this time of year you should be able to spot them in fresh or salt water across the entire lower 48 and down in to Mexico. In fact, I've been entertained by a number of rambunctious dinner parties in my Maine neighborhood recently, both off the coast and on inland ponds.
It's been a while since we've been able to engage in similarly energetic human parties, but those precious gatherings will return. And when they do, I imagine they'll feel just as celebratory as a gathering of buffleheads.