I must apologize for the quality of the pictures; I am not good at dealing with the light pouring in from the windows and the reflection created, but you will get the sense of more of our living space, and the place that birds and books occupy in our lives.
As soon as you open the front door and step inside, the first bird picture greets you.
It is an original oil on board that appeals to me quite a bit. Here is some information about the artist.
I suspect that the picture has little artistic merit, but I am fond of it nonetheless and I acquired it at an auction for the princely sum of $4, framed.
Down the hall a little way, my personal favourite of all of Miriam's creations hangs. It is called Garden Path and if you could see the exquisite detail in it you would be floored. It is a very fine work indeed.
The lamp you see in the picture is sitting on a small table, at the bottom of which is a sculpture of a Common Loon (Great Northern Diver) of which I am inordinately enamoured. I have three other carvings of loons, one of them a particularly fine piece, but they all are in the stereotypical pose of the bird on the water. This is the only work I have ever seen showing the bird out of the water, in its characteristic ungainly stance, due to its legs being set so far back on its body - great for swimming but next to useless for moving around on land.
It is an exquisite work, in my opinion, and I consider myself very fortunate to have it. Again, I acquired this piece at an auction. I forget what I paid for it, but you can be sure it was considerably more than the painting of the swans in flight!
J. Fenwick Lansdowne is considered by many to be the finest wildlife artist Canada has ever produced, and is in the highest echelons of wildlife artists the world over. His output was remarkable and superb. I have several books devoted to his art and I have spent, and continue to spend, countless happy hours poring over them.
Many years ago, I used to have my pictures framed by a small picture framer, an Armenian immigrant to Canada as a matter of fact, and we developed a friendship, and once when he needed a few minor repairs done to his house, I dispatched a crew to do the work, and didn't charge him.
As a token of appreciation he gave me this numbered print by Lansdowne of a Black-billed Cuckoo, and framed it for me. The delicacy of this image is nothing short of genius.
A woman I once knew had the artistic sensibility of a slowworm; I suspect that her concept of beauty was barely above a velvet Elvis. She had a folio of Gould and Richter bird lithographs, and doubtless had no idea what she owned. They had been brought to Canada from New York by her grandfather sometime around 1900.
And so it was that I obtained a number of these lithographs. Some are framed and take pride of place on my walls, others I sold. Here are the two that are on the main wall of the living room, showing Semipalmated Plover and Virginia Rail.
They are nothing short of spectacular!
You can barely imagine my happiness in owning these very important works in the history of ornithological illustration, by the finest proponent of the genre, and an interesting fellow to boot.
For anyone interested in learning more about this seminal figure in the development of ornithology as an artistic and scientific discipline, I recommend the following book.
As many of you know from previous posts I also have a decent collection of wood carvings of birds, and this American Woodcock is one of my favourites.
Books are a vital part of our lives. Neither Miriam nor I could imagine living without books. They are everywhere throughout our house.
You will perhaps indulge me while I recount a small anecdote about the first time I was ever invited into Miriam's home some weeks after we first met. Going through the door I heard the music of Edvard Grieg, the incidental music to Peer Gynt, playing in the background, and as she took me through the house there were books everywhere. Now to have Miriam, Grieg and books all at the same time is not such a bad deal, and even though I didn't have to be sold any more than I already was, it did seem like a bit of a clincher!
This Northern Pintail unfortunately suffered a broken tail, and now hides away under the table.
On top of the table is a burl bowl which Miriam possessed before I knew her, and we both consider this to be an item of great beauty, and are delighted to have it.
My brother-in-law, Amos Weber, was an accomplished woodworker and achieved great things in the genre known as chip carving. Here is one of his pieces.
Let me show you a little more of the living room.
And the dining room.
In the last post I waxed rhapsodic about Barry Kent Mackay, so I will not go into a great dissertation about him again, but I do have other paintings to show you.
The first is the original art for the front cover of the book Wrens, Dippers and Thrashers.
I am very lucky to own this picture, but I have been further rewarded to have my copy of the book signed by both David Brewer, the author, and Barry Kent MacKay, the illustrator.
This original watercolour of an American Dipper with young is another one of my prized possessions. Barry has captured the scene to perfection and rendered it with the touch of a true wildlife artist, someone who appreciates the subjects he is painting, and based on hours of field observation and sketches.
In 2014, Linda R. Wires, wrote a very important book called The Double-crested Cormorant, Plight of a Feathered Pariah.
This should be essential reading for anyone interested in birds, or in the principle of justice for animals, and fair and rational treatment of our fellow inhabitants of the Earth.
Barry, a long time advocate for cormorants, and for animal welfare in general, produced all of the art for this book and donated it. I bought ten pieces of the original art, three of which are framed on my walls, the rest I gave away to people I considered worthy recipients. Ironically, the Little Pied Cormorant of Australia, shown below, did not make into the book, but the other two pictures I kept did.
We are all confined to home during this Coronavirus more than is usually the case, and it is no doubt more of a strain for some than others. I prefer to be outside, and fortunately, I have been able to escape the confines of the house each day, but if I have to be stuck at home this is really not a bad place to be. After all I have music, Miriam and books - and I didn't even mention art.