Princeton man honored as wildlife artist

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PRINCETON, Mass. (AP) - A quick look out the windows of Barry Van Dusen’s studio during a recent afternoon revealed the artist’s inspiration.

Gathered on bird feeders on his front lawn were a woodpecker, cardinal, a chickadee, a blue jay, a sparrow and other birds flitting around, attempting to grab a bite to eat in the rain.

Van Dusen sketches and paints nature, especially birds. His work, which has appeared in Audubon Society publications, bird guides and many other publications, is being honored in September by the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, as its 2014 Master Wildlife Artist. His work will be shown in the museum’s annual Birds in Art show, the largest bird art show in the world.

A watercolor and sketch artist, Van Dusen brings life to birds and natural scenes in a way that is impressionistic but also realistic.

Art is something Van Dusen, 60, has done since a young age, and his admiration of nature goes back to when he was a boy in Maine.

“When we were kids, we had a neighbor in Harvard, Massachusetts, who was a bird watcher,” Van Dusen said. “He kind of introduced my brothers and I to bird watching quite early.”

As young birders, Van Dusen, said, he and his brothers all wanted their own bird books.

“I bought the one that was illustrated by Arthur Singer. Another brother bought one that was illustrated by Roger Tory Peterson, and another brother bought one that was illustrated by Don Eckelberry,” he said. “All three of those illustrators are in the master list.”

Van Dusen noted that his brothers eventually lost interest in bird watching, but it has been a lifelong passion of his. Because of his interest, he acquired the other two books.

“That was the beginning of my bird book collection,” he said.

Since then Van Dusen has contributed to bird field guides himself and self-published his own books on birds. He teaches nature art, and provides artwork for many publications.

The honor he is to receive form the Woodson Museum is for his life’s work. A master bird artist is selected by prior master artists, bird show jurors and other experts. As this year’s master, Van Dusen said, he will exhibit a selection of his work, give a talk on his life’s work will receive a medal signifying his status as a master artist.

Most of Van Dusen’s works are impressionistic watercolors.

He sometimes works from photographs, but often goes out in nature and sketches his subjects in many different poses before translating them to a painting.

His most recent favorite painting shows five goldfinch flying around a garden of sunflowers.

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