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John Busby Named Woodson Art Museum 2009 Master Wildlife Artist
John Busby.

WAUSAU, WI.- The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum has named Scottish painter John Busby as its 2009 Master Wildlife Artist. He will receive the award during the preview opening of Birds in Art on September 11.

As the Woodson’s 31st Master Artist, Busby will be represented in Birds in Art by more than a dozen watercolors and drawings that exemplify what he calls his “lighter touch” in depicting birds in real-life action with other species and their surroundings. He will speak about his life as a birder, educator, and artist on Saturday, September 12, at 10 am during the traditional Birds in Art opening day Meet the Artists event.

In announcing the 2009 Master, director Kathy Foley stated, “John Busby has influenced and nurtured multiple generations of artists who look to the natural world for subject matter and inspiration. With his deft handling of watercolor and pencil, Busby is, without a doubt, a true master as he reveals the essence of avian life in a minimal style.”

Past Master Larry Barth refers to Busby as “the magnet that European artists revolve around.” Sculptor Tony Angell, also a previous Birds in Art Master, describes his Scottish colleague as “perhaps the greatest living bird artist who draws directly from Nature . . . [whose] insightful and perceptive capacity to go from eye to hand in his creative statements is without peer.”

Busby studied at Leeds and Edinburgh Colleges of Art and taught at the Edinburgh College of Art from 1956 to 1988, when he retired to return to being a full-time artist. He is a member of the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, Past President of the Society of Scottish Artists, and a founding member of the Society of Wildlife Artists.

Landscape is the main focus of John Busby’s work, but happily for the world of avian art, in the 1950s he turned his birdwatching hobby into what has become a major part of his artistic output. He has illustrated more than 35 books about birds and animals, many of them about behavior. Busby’s 2005 publication, Land Marks & Sea Wings, reveals the artist’s direct and immediate response to nature on land and water as well as on the wing. His goal for every piece is “to make something memorable and true.”

Busby, born in 1928, lives near Ormiston, East Anglia, and is married to Joan Busby, a mezzo-soprano and music teacher.

The 34th annual Birds in Art exhibition, on view September 12-November 15, will feature more than 125 original paintings, sculptures, and graphics created in 2007-09 by a global roster of artists. The exhibition’s full-color catalogue, featuring an essay about John Busby, will be available for $20 plus $5 S/H. For more information, contact the Woodson Art Museum at 715-845-7010 or

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