Sunday, 24 March 2013


At one time I was a huge fan of science fiction. I belonged to a science fiction book club and read just about everything that I could get my hands on. Science fiction writers wrote about possibilities, how it was possible that there was something out there, something that might save us from ourselves. Then, I came to understand that despite what is written about space travel, and alien societies, and our making contact, it ain’t going to happen. Unlike the dolphins in Douglas Adams’ fourth book, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "series" , we have no choice, but to stay and solve our own problems. And so I’ve tried through my art to impress upon those that I’ve met that what we have is quite awesome, a miracle of sorts, and that we really must try, however we’re able, to preserve and protect our natural heritage. As I understand it, once it’s gone, it’s gone for all time.


This morning a flock of Canada Geese flew over heading north. At last, a real sign that spring is just around the corner. It’s also a signal to me, myself, and I, that I should get out to the marsh and other wild places to observe and sketch and paint and enjoy our wild heritage. 

SPRING - TRILLIUMS    Watercolour Painting

For those of you not of Canada the Trillium is the province of Ontario's wild flower. In a race against time the trillium blankets our forests floor putting forth blossoms before the trees come into leaf and block the sun from reaching the forest floor.

Friday, 22 March 2013


There’s a superstition in these here parts that if March should come in like a lamb, then it’ll go out like a lion. This year there would appear some truth to the saying, for just when it was thought that winter was on its way out, back it came with a fury. In the past few days we’ve experienced several late snowstorms accompanied by strong winds out of the northwest dropping the wind-chill down to  minus 20C. The good news is that when the sun does shine the snow is quick to retreat. Spring is definitely on the way with the ducks not too far behind. 

Green-winged Teal  Hand-coloured Etching

Common Loons     Coloured Etching
One evening while canoeing in a northern lake a pair of loons swam
from the darkness of the shore out into the reflection of the  sunset.

Bachelor Flight - Pintails
Hand-coloured Etching

Blackwater -  Mallards  Hand-coloured Etching

Bufflehead Ducks   Hand-coloured Etching

No sooner has the ice gone off the marsh when the Bufflehead show up.
 Cute to watch as they bounce about on the waves and sort of plop into the water on landing.
Interesting how they got their name. Like the American bison, or buffalo, their head appears large, and so they were called Buffalo Head shortened to Bufflehead.

Courtship Flight  ( Mallards)   Hand-coloured Etching

I originally entitled this etching Rape Flight, but it didn't seem right despite the fact that the description is essentially correct. Disney would have us believe that everything in nature is sweet and nice, but this is far from the truth. Mallards rarely choose a mate. Generally, what happens is that the duck is forced to mate with more than one drake. Every time that she takes flight, during the so called mating season, she is pursued by several drakes that will, if they're able, force her down in the water and copulate with her. Sometimes the duck is drowned in the act. Nature can be cruel.

Drake Canvasback   Hand-coloured Etching

Drake Mallard   Hand-coloured Etching

Drake Wood Duck    Hand-coloured Etching

Dropping In  -  Canada Geese     Coloured Etching

Long Point - Tundra Swans   Etching

Early one spring we went to a marsh located at Long Point on Lake Erie to view Tundra Swans as they migrated through the area. It was cold that spring. We almost froze walking the marsh
 and came away with spotting only a few pairs, but it was worth it....... or so I told myself.

Settling In  (Mallards)   Hand-coloured Etching

Drake Pintail  Hand-tinted Etching

Still Waters   (Common Loon)  Coloured Etching

Sunday, 17 March 2013


There was a moment during my career as an artist that I pretty much etched and painted only waterfowl. I’m very much concerned about the protection and preservation of our natural heritage, and attempted to promote my views through the promotion of waterfowl and their habitat. Those were very good years wandering various marsh habitats in all kinds of weather observing waterfowl, and the many other creatures that call the marsh their home. I made a lot of sketches, produced a lot of etchings and paintings, and met many wonderful persons who shared my beliefs and passion for wildlife preservation. I believe that we accomplished quite a lot for our efforts, and am hopeful that my waterfowl art continues to remind that there’s nothing more important than protecting and preserving our natural heritage for future generations.

BIRCH and BUFFLEHEAD   Watercolour Painting

CANADA GEESE   Graphite Drawing

Drake Wood Duck  Watercolour Painting

CAUGHT NAPPING - MALLARDS   Hand-coloured Etching

HIGH FLIERS   Coloured Etching
It was one of those evenings on the marsh when there was a dramatic sunset,
and the geese were flying back from grazing out on the fields.

Hand-coloured Etching


WOOD DUCKS   Watercolour Painting

DISTURBED - COMMON LOON   Hand-coloured Etching

MISTY MORNING - CANADA GEESE               Watercolour Painting

Watercolour Painting

CANADA GEESE    Watercolour Painting

Hand-coloured Etching


PAIRED -Wood Ducks  Watercolour Painting

THREE MALLARDS  Hand-coloured etching

DRAKE WOOD DUCKS   Watercolour Painting (detail)

It’s getting on to the middle of March. Soon the ducks will be back.

There were times, thinking back a number of years, when come the middle of March I’d get up early and head out hopeful that the ice had gone off nearby Tiny Marsh, and that the ducks would be back. Open water was the key. It didn’t seem to matter that the winds would still be blowing cold, and that some mornings there would be a skim of ice on parts of the marsh.
Drake Wood Ducks        Graphite Study

Paired - Canada Geese
  Hand- coloured Etching
It always amazed me just how waterfowl know when the ice goes off a northern marsh. They’ll come north a ways then sit until they’re certain that further north there’s open water. No one seems to know just how they become aware of weather conditions hundreds of miles to the north, but they do know and when it’s time they come by the thousands........or perhaps I should say the came by the thousands.

Used to be a time when nearby Tiny Marsh, situated to the north-east of Elmvale, Ontario, would host literally thousands of waterfowl of various species. Nearby farmer’s fields flooded with snow melt would play host to waterfowl feeding on spilled grains and various sources of protein. Then, the farmers got the idea of planting spring crops and learned that by ditching their fields they could encourage run off, and early planting. Now, the snow melt lasts but a few days, and the numbers of waterfowl that visit the marsh are reduced drastically. Hoards of Canada Geese, a success story gone bad, now own the marsh. Still we do get a few species and many of us who remember continue to scan sky and the open water to enjoy what is sadly becoming but a memory.

SPRING -Tiny Marsh                Watercolour Painting

This painting depicts a portion of a farm field a bit to the south of the Tiny Marsh.
At one time for a period of as much as a couple of weeks thousands of ducks would feed in the snow melt, and feed on the spilled corn left in the fields.