Wareham artist hosts opening reception for bird paintings

Oct 14, 2016

Did you know crows can recognize a human face?

That's just one of the many things local artist Christy Gunnels learned about crows during her exploration into a new style and subject of painting.

“Working closely with them I've realized that even though you think of them as something that can't have facial expression... how much expression can be in a face just from the eyes or the beak, the way the head is held, that sort of thing,” she said.

For the past two years, the painter has been photographing, studying and painting birds.

Gunnels usually paints very detailed landscapes and scenes: her bird paintings began as a break away from the work she usually does.

“They did start as a means of moving away from a really tedious way of moving. This was a whole different way of moving the body,” said Gunnels. “This was just a way to initially not waste a lot of paint that tended to dry up on the palette.”

Her inspiration came from another artist as well as the birds she sees every day.

“I had seen some paintings that I liked with very minimal backgrounds and a small piece of a bird. That, and the combination of photographing them and being around them – they're all over our yard.”

Though her bird paintings were meant to be private, she shared them with the public on Oct. 13 during an opening reception in New Bedford at Gallery 65 on William Street. The gallery also featured works by Brenda Wrigley Scott, a Rhode Island-based bird painter.

Scott and Gunnels each sold a few pieces of work, 10 percent of which went toward the Mass Audubon Society. The reception hosted old and new friends who chatted over cheese and crackers while touring the gallery, which holds artwork from over 50 artists from Boston, down the Cape, Rhode Island and everywhere in between.

Gunnels' work will hang at the gallery until Oct. 29.

Gunnels retired as an art teacher at the Wareham Public Schools and previously served as the Fine Arts Department head. To her, art is an innate human quality.

“The creative side of each human is what's fulfilling about each day for them,” she said. “That seed of creativity is always in there, you just gotta water it.”