Foreword by Jon Friedman
I first met Gale about 20 years ago, when she came to The Wild Bird Store as a birder needing supplies. After our initial introduction, we became “bird friends” and with each repeat visit to the store, I learned more about her and her passion for wildlife. Soon thereafter, she allowed us to publish a little photo essay of her then-resident female roadrunner, Sweetie. Along with her husband, Steve, she has traveled the world photographing native wildlife in their natural habitat. Over the years, they have traveled the deserts and polar regions and much in between! Most recently, they returned from wildlife photography trip to Tanzania and Kenya.
I wanted to introduce Gale’s wildlife art to our newsletter audience, but, I also wanted her to communicate her thoughts and observations directly with the readers. For this reason, I limited myself to writing this introduction and left the rest to her. If you like what you see here, I encourage readers to visit her website, loststarrart.com, for a more comprehensive and complete survey of her artistic interests. She is among a limited number of teachers worldwide that are certified to instruct students in the Zentangle method of creating artworks. She excels in teaching this method and prospective students can learn what they need to know about signing up for her Arizona Sonora Desert Museum classes on her website. There are several sections of the website dedicated to her interest in Zentangle, and plenty of examples of those drawings and photographs. Other website catagories include Scratchboard, Collage & Books, Drawings, Layered Mixed Media, Photography, Watercolor and more.
The remainder of this introduction is taken directly from her introduction to the website and I feel it best to let Gale speak for herself from this point on. I hope our readers will enjoy the wonderment and awe I have experienced as a result of being inspired by this local artist.
The Photography & Art of Gale Sherman
Our family lived in Southeast Idaho for years before moving to Arizona. Many Sandhill Cranes migrate through the state, but this Crane family became attached to a family which feed them every summer next to a quiet golf course. The combination the easy food, lots of ponds, a river, many wheat farms nearby and not too many predators seem to make the location ideal for this family. As a golfer I became enamored with the cranes and just started walking with them some afternoons. My presence never seemed to bothered them. When they’d preen, I’d just sit down near them and when they walked, I’d just go along with them.
The first picture is my favorite! I sat on the muddy ground so I could shoot looking up. However, the crane got very curious about my shoe laces and began trying to untie them. By the time I took the picture (with a lens which was too big) I was flat on my back with my legs stretched out and the crane busy with my laces.
After we heard a nesting owl had taken up residency on a trail not far from our house, we hiked up there several times each summer.
Then we’d climb up the side of a hill next to the tree and sit at the same level as the nest, watching with binoculars. Twice one week we were there when the mom was on lower branches watching her branchling move around, while the youngest remained in the nest.
Platforms for Osprey nests have been built along the Snake River in Idaho.
Fortunately, some sections of roads are next to the river and I like sunroofs. My husband is very good at taking directions from me on the roof, “Go 3 feet forward at a 45degree angle. STOP! Back a bit….” Probably the passengers in the other cars think I’m as much of a curiosity as the ospreys.
Limited edition book PEARLS OF THE DESERT: SAGUARO FLOWERS:
I love the desert and, especially, saguaros. When they are blooming, I search for interesting flower clusters to capture with my camera. I scamper off trails, climb on the top of my golf cart, and (surprise) slither through the sunroof to get interesting angles.
The Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, and especially its Art Institute, is near and dear to my heart. While I was working, I never had the opportunity to really hone my art skills so I was thrilled when I discovered they had lot of art classes as well as a Nature Art Certificate program. During my certificate work and since then I’ve done these pieces.
Both the parrot and the ostrich pieces are colored pencil on Duralar, a plastic substrate. The parrot was brought to class by a docent for students to study. The ostrich, on the other hand, was studying me; right after I took the reference photo (in South Africa), it grabbed my camera. I was glad I had a hold of the camera strap!
The Desert Tortoise lives in my neighborhood and the Moose in Wilson, WY. Both are scratchboard with watercolors. The year the Moose was in the student show it won the” People’s Choice Award.”
Ten years ago, this juvenile roadrunner got drenched in a sudden spring storm. We went out to the patio to see the rainbow as she jumped up on the back fence to dry off. I race to get my camera, but she was happy and content to stay there. I spoke to her and she just stayed put.
Then I began going out regularly to see if she was around, making a clicking sound and before I knew it she would come to my call, “Sweetie, click, click.” She was curious and calm as she could be. She would come to warm herself in the sun, sit by my chair while I was reading, etc.
Three years later she brought a mate to the house. He was always shy and timid- the opposite of Sweetie. However, he was a very good parent when they successful had babies beginning two years later. Unfortunately, Sweetie must have died when she was 8 because she never came again. It was an amazing experience to have her around our yard. Neighbors called her “Gale’s roadrunner” and on occasion she even got in my golf cart when she heard my voice.
When we were living in Idaho, we had a tour of the World Center for Birds of Prey just south of Boise. They told us all about their condor recovery program. So years later it was very exciting to see California Condors at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
We’ve seen them on 3 separate trips, but I’ve only had the opportunity to get good photos one time.
At Grand Canyon
There are rules in the Antarctic about penguin encounters: do not walk directly towards a penguin; if a penguin comes towards you-just stand still; if your path will cross and penguin’s path you yield!
I was totally in awe about my penguin experiences. Walking among the Magellanic penguins and their underground nest on Magdalena Island was an amazing introduction to the penguin world. Further south on Half Moon Island a Chinstrap has egg duty while its mate is feeding. I watched these three Gentoos “slip-sliding-away” down a steep hill to go feed.
Meanwhile, territories and nests are well protected from close neighbors. The loud and frequent calling is for mates to return with food, to be relieved of parenting duties and to pass their call on to their offspring.
Because of the landing conditions we only saw the young male Macaroni penguins, sent to far edge of their huge colony, from our inflatables. We also couldn’t land on the Salisbury Plain beaches, but just watching the King penguins, elephant seals and fur seals share the space was amazing.
However, at Grytviken, South Georgia, we wandered among the Kings, seals, old whale bones, and the decaying ships and vats left from the whaling days. It was a bit surreal!
Kenya & Tanzania
I’ve just returned from a safari and saw hundreds of birds, numerous mammals, and some reptiles. It was an amazing trip! Like most people we were thrilled to see and photograph the Big Five (African Elephants, Black Rhinos, Cape Buffaloes, African Lions, and African Leopards) and the Ugly Five (Wildebeests, Spotted Hyenas, Lappet-Faced Vultures and Marabou Storks), but we were even luckier. I icing on our cake was when two cheetah cubs jumped on our spare tires and played for a bit. We did close our side windows but were never afraid even with our roof was open. We are still giddy from that experience!
Global warming is putting the whole world and all the wildlife in serious jeopardy. I can only hope we come to our senses so generations in the future will be able to see firsthand all the wildlife I’ve been so fortunate to see in their natural environments.