Take a good look at this week’s On Deck cover photo. What do you see?
Sure, it’s painting of a blue heron in a marsh. But if you talk to the artist, you’ll begin to know that there’s much more to it than “bird in setting.”
Jocelyn Beatty, the artist who won the honor of having her ‘Blue Heron’ grace the poster of the 26th Wings ‘n Water poster, said that painting waterfowl requires a lot of research.
“I have to have a good bit of knowledge about the species. I have to know the season, and know the habitat, and know what the plumage would be like in that season,” Jocelyn said.
Now take another look. The bird appears to hold itself close against the cold. It stands in shallow water surrounded by reeds that have turned brown. Although there’s no snow, it feels like winter.
Jocelyn describes her subject as “hunkered down in the reeds,” indicating how well she understands what the bird would look like at that time of year.
In fact, Jocelyn said, “I enjoy research as much as painting.”
That research isn’t confined to libraries and the Internet. A great deal of Jocelyn’s study of wildlife takes place right in the field (and the wetlands and the beaches) to analyze her subjects in their own environment.
It’s also a family affair. Jocelyn, her husband Ken, and their two sons enjoyed traveling together to outdoor spots.
“We did a lot of camping and hiking, and spent a lot of time looking for birds.”
Ken photographs the creatures and scenery they find. And now that they’re grown, the younger son, Chandler, has taken up painting himself. The older son, Chris, took the scientific route and became an engineer.
Jocelyn’s route to becoming an award-winning artist began at a young age. Although she studied at Edinboro State University, she’s largely self-taught.
At Edinboro in those days, the focus was mainly on abstract art. But Jocelyn preferred landscapes. Before long, she “wanted something more in the them. I’d put a deer in the landscape, then put birds in a marsh scene.”
For years, she’s been passing her passion on to her students. She taught at Valley Art Guild in Sharon, Pa. and the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. For the past 22 years, she’s been teaching at the Hoyt Art Institute in New Castle, Pa., while she maintains a studio in Shenango Township, West Middlesex, Pa.
In summer, Jocelyn teaches a plein air class apart from the schools. She identifies six interesting locations and then takes her students there to paint natural surroundings in natural light.
She also exhibits her work in juried shows, invitational exhibits, and solo art shows—approximately 16-18 shows a year.
When she travels to shows, each trip presents another opportunity to “go a day or two early to scope out places to paint.”
She’s been exhibiting at Wings ‘n Water for 10 years, and this is the second consecutive year she won the poster contest.