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North American Birds-A Field Sketching Project by Brenda Carter

North American Birds-A Field Sketching Project by Brenda Carter


In 1998, Brenda developed a plan to paint as many different birds as
possible in one year. The unique aspect of the project was that all the
birds would be drawn in the field from direct observation. This was the
first known project of its kind. Working with her friend, Bruce di Labio -
an experienced birder whose specialty is finding rare birds - the pair
worked out a route for continental North America excluding Mexico. Using the
American Birding Association guidelines for a "Big Year" (a birding term for
listing as many species as possible during the year) Brenda began on January
1st, 1999 with a working goal of 300. By June it was apparent that the goal
would be reached before year's end, so it was raised to 500. On November 4th
in Yosemite Park, California, bird number 500, the Varied Thrush was
successfully sketched. It was then celebrated with a radio interview on Canada's national radio brodcaster,the
CBC's "As It Happens", conducted from a phone booth.
Newspaper and magazine articles continue to be published on this record
setting event. On December 31, 1999, Brenda coloured her last bird for the
year, a Common Redpoll for a total of 514. To complete her project, she
travelled to Florida, Texas, Arizona, the East Coast back down to Florida
and the Dry Tortugas, Ontario and finally California. Brenda plans to
continue the project in North America and in other countries.
An article on the "Feather Quest" project will appear in "Birding" Magazine
in Dec. 2000.
For the year 2000, Brenda has begun again! This time she is capturing as
many species as possible in Ontario with a more modest goal of 200. An
exhibit of this work will be on public display sometime later this year.

ADDITIONAL NOTES
*514 Birds!!
The successful project covered, Ontario, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas,
Churchill, Arizona, Cape Hatteras and California. Brenda has sketched
through temperatures ranging from Minus 25 F to 110 F under all kinds
of weather conditions.

*Bird Banding
Brenda's sketching and banding experiences at "The Tip" of Long Point,
on Lake Erie have provided a foundation for her work in the field.
"After two thousand drawings of birds, rapid sketching is becoming
my second language."

*Artist's Meeting
Invited to the annual gathering of select North American Bird Artists,
Brenda has received immeasurable advice and support from fellow field
artists. These include Jim Coe, author and illustrator of the Golden
Guide to Eastern Birds and Barry Van Dusen, renowned bird artist.

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