October 17, 2017

Mackie's Birds

        D. Helen Mackie (Canada, b. 1926) was a scientist before she became an artist, and her interest in nature is evident in all her work.  Birds are especially prevalent in her art, and all the pieces I have for you today include birds.  In this first piece the chickadees are the close focus, and I like their energy.  The background also appeals to me with its semi-abstract patterns evoking forest.  I think the stars in the upper left must be autumn leaves; our leaves are changing here now, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a great year for color for us.

        In the second piece the birds are just part of the landscape, and indeed almost camouflaged against the sweep of the sky.  How many birds are there in this piece?  Just the two large ones, or are some of the more abstract Vs birds, as well?  The flowers in the foreground are quite detailed, but the rest of the elements are simplified.  I admire the efficiency of line and pattern depicting trees and mountains.
        And finally an entire population of birds.  These birds are rough enough that I’m not sure how many different species are represented.  We’ve got a wonderful owl, and a few smaller birds, but the rest may all be crows.  (For that matter, perhaps the smaller birds are just farther in the distance?  But don’t forget the rabbit!)  This piece doesn’t have a focal point, which I think is hard to pull off, but it’s nevertheless a pleasing tapestry of branches and birds.

[Pictures: Chickadees, two-colour linocut by D. Helen Mackie, 1988 (Image from galleries west);
At Leighton Centre, block print by Mackie (Image from shepaintsred);
In Aspen Woods, woodblock print by Mackie, 2001 (Image from willock & sax gallery).]

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