What secret sauce whets someone’s appetite to pursue a passion for art, birding, or both? Maybe it starts when a child assembles and customizes a birding journal cover. Perhaps it continues through careful observation while sketching basic body shapes and then characteristic details of crest, mask, or beak – all while seated in Woodson Art Museum galleries or on a tree stump in the field.
Thirteen youngsters created and drew illustrations in birding journals as they closely examined several Birds in Art artworks last week during a Little Masters & Young Artists program, led by education curators Jayna Hintz and Catie Anderson. The children were invited to bring those journals a few days later to Bluegill Bay Park for Birding Building Blocks, a free Woodson Art Museum program for all ages led by birding enthusiast Susan Ford-Hoffert.
Susan, who participated in both programs with her right arm encased in a cast, exemplifies just such a passion. Although she broke her wrist in a fall during a recent birding excursion, she is delighted to encourage and nurture the next generation of birders.
What initially prompted Susan’s passion for birding? It stemmed, she said, from her love of nature and developed over time, providing opportunities to venture into gorgeous landscapes and meet and quickly connect with fellow birders, both in this country and during her travels to Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the Caribbean.
“Birds are everywhere and they’re a tangible link to the wild,” she said. “I find birds beautiful, interesting, and they lift my soul when I watch them. They inhabit every habitat – arctic, jungle, oceans, deserts, and your backyard. They migrate thousands of miles twice a year . . . think about tiny hummingbirds flying nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico. These creatures that most people don’t even notice have amazing lives, do incredible things, and yet are so vulnerable.”
Fortunately, the secret sauce for passion has no expiration date. You can develop or indulge a thirst for art and birding at any age. What better place to do just that than at the Woodson Art Museum? This fall, birds are resplendent throughout the galleries – in Birds in Art, on view through November 16, and in six collection exhibitions, including Birdwatching: Selections from the Collection, on view through February 2015. No need to slog through marshland on frigid, early mornings; the Woodson Art Museum offers the best indoor birdwatching to be found.
Bring a sketchbook and pencil, pick up a canvas stool from racks near the entrance, and choose an artwork or two to examine for inspiration. Linger. Savor the experience. You’ll likely discover, as you yearn for more, that frequent visits to the always-free Woodson Art Museum are deeply satisfying.
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