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"In our haste to ‘improve’ the land we have lost much of our natural heritage including most of our prairies, forests and wetlands. For me each has its own beauty and attractions. It is the wetlands, with a few characteristic plants and animals, I chose as the setting for Willow Bottom Ringnecks.
The rooster’s colorful feathers made it easy to use him as the focal point of the painting. I wanted him to look contented and confident as he soaks up the warmth of the sun’s rays on a winter day. Painting the textures and colors of the decaying wood of a storm damaged willow was enjoyable and gave me a chance to echo the warm sienna’s and gold’s of the rooster. Fallen willow twigs dropped during a summer storm camouflage several hens. I kept pheasants in my backyard at one time, because I wanted to get to know them better and be able to study their appearance and habits during each season. The rooster was always conspicuous, but I was continually amazed at the difficulty I had in spotting the hens even though there was limited cover in their pen.
Adding moisture loving smartweed and canary grass gave me other shapes and textures to work with and additional warm colors to play against the blue shadows on the snow.
Especially in highly agricultural areas, wetlands may offer the only late winter cover not only for pheasants but also for other wildlife including whitetail deer. Thus it seemed appropriate to add a group of whitetails moving across the background. I wanted them to appear as I often see them in the wild; inconspicuous until once you spot them. Apparently I succeeded, because at least 95% of the people I’ve shown the painting to have not spotted the deer until I hint at their presence."
- Larry Zach