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Book Excerpt - Winter Lakeshore

In this book excerpt from Birds, Art & Design (Stackpole Books, 2015), Larry Barth discusses a snowy owl and bonaparte's gull.

By: Larry Barth
Photography by Bill Einsig

I like birds. I always have. My strongest memories from very early childhood are of birds—a white gull overhead against a blue sky; the bounding gait of an injured flicker underneath the shrubbery; pattern showing in the wings of ducks lifting off from a bend in the river; the iridescence of a dead hummingbird; the bold black, white, and magenta of a rose-breasted grosbeak up close; and the stateliness of a great blue heron in the distance. These memories are not hazy or vague. They are clear and focused, filled with vivid detail.

Birds have always had my full attention. I am drawn in by the rich tapestry of detail that I see in a single bird, and I’m taken aback by the rich variety I see in birds as a whole. I marvel at their perfection. Of all the designs I see in nature, I find the shapes, colors, and patterns of birds to be the most beautiful.

Given their perfection, I choose to present the birds as they are, without distortion or modification. It is also no surprise that I feel compelled to include so much of the detail in which I take delight and pleasure. The faithful realism you see in my treatment of the bird itself has been a constant in my work. It is in the ever-changing compositions I build around the birds that you will see considerable variation. I use birds to explore art. The bird is a given. It is in the arena of design, composition, and presentation that I fight my battles, pursue new ideas, embrace aesthetics, look for opportunities, take chances, try alternatives, and investigate the possibilities that come as I bend, spindle, fold, and manipulate my way down the artistic path.

Read the rest of this article in Wildfowl Carving Magazine's Fall 2015 issue.


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