Wide Horizon – Tundra Swans
(scroll down for description)
1990, acrylic, 24” x 36”
The tundra swan is a recent name given to the whistling swan; the new name is far more appropriate. First of all, these birds do not whistle. Their cry is a kind of sonorous, clarion-like yodel; secondly, they do live entirely on the tundra regions of North America during the breeding seasons.
The tundra is truly the area of wide, open spaces. It is, by definition, the botanical region which is too cold, too exposed or has too short a growing season to support the existence of proper trees. I have seen relatively ancient willows and spruce, not much larger than a band spread upon the ground, flattened by the wind. The tundra is an area of unobstructed views and big skies. Distant objects may be seen quite clearly, and this is exactly the way the tundra swan likes it. When standing fully erect, the swan's head is almost four feet above the ground, making it perhaps the tallest object in all directions -- a great advantage in detecting predators.

In this painting, I have shown the male standing guard and the female sheltering the downy, newly hatched cygnets. Since the purpose of this painting is for conservation and environmental work, I wanted to show the "on guard" stance and the hope embodied in the coming generation. My other goal was to depict the breathtaking sense of distance one feels in the wide horizons of the Arctic.