©Annette Bartlett-Golden, Blue Heron. Watercolor, 9 x 12 inches. $175
A Magnificent Bird
By Annette Bartlett-Golden
I’m very fortunate to live near a park with woods, open areas, and a couple ponds. Although I’ve been there hundreds of times, when I go to the park I always look for a particular resident of the upper pond, an elegant blue heron. Walking with my two elderly dogs one hot late afternoon in summer, when the park was filled with a great many people, I was surprised to observe the blue heron standing calmly at the edge of the pond.
An avid fisherman, the great bird was watching some people fishing across the way. Indeed, he often seems to linger near the fishing folk, whether a few yards away or in the shadows on the floating dock, a favorite fishing spot. Sometimes people toss him fish which he adroitly catches in his long thin beak. That seems a lovely interaction between human and bird, a moment when trust and goodwill intersect.
That day I had my good camera with me – I was on a greater mission than a walk. Mesmerized by the grace and beauty of the heron, and encouraged by the bird’s serene demeanor, I slowly edged nearer, all the while the dogs pulling on their leashes in opposing directions. I snapped a number of photos, trying hard to stay as still as possible. Eventually, I sat down on the grass and endeavored to continue photographing the blue heron. Taking two excited dogs and a big heavy camera on a photography excursion was clearly not a good idea. Still, incredibly, I managed to take dozens of photos of the magnificent bird, most of which turned out well, while a few were simply amazing.
Using one of those photos as my reference, I made the watercolor of the blue heron you see here. I have found that seeing, experiencing, and interacting with whatever I choose to paint is necessary for me to add a sense of life and spirit to my paintings. It’s that personal connection to my subject, just like personal connections in human relationships, that make all the difference.
Annette Bartlett-Golden paints a wide range of subjects from landscapes to animals and makes abstract works with paper. Using vibrant colors, she imparts a sense of immediacy, vivacity and optimism to her paintings and paper collages.