Wildlife artist exhibits at Great River Arts | Morrison County Record | hometownsource.com – ECM Publishers


With a love for wildlife and nature, artist Tanya Piatz raises awareness about birds that are species of concern.

Staff writer
    With a love for wildlife and nature, artist Tanya Piatz of Foley uses her artistic skills to raise awareness of habitat conservation and how it directly impacts the diversity of species that are found in the environment.
    Piatz does this by illustrating birds that are commonly seen every day, as well as birds that are less as known that can be found on the Department of Natural Resources’s (DNR) list of species that are of special concern.
    “Birds are kind of an indicator species. They don’t always adapt to changes as quickly as some other animals may, so typically once you start seeing declines in more specialized species of birds, that’s usually a pretty good indicator that there’s something wrong in the habitat or the environment,” Piatz said.
    Several pieces of Piatz’ artwork are displayed in the front gallery at Great River Arts (GRA) in downtown Little Falls throughout the month of April.
    Whenever Piatz’ art is displayed, she includes the name of each bird in the exhibit. It gives spectators an opportunity to not only remember what the bird looks like, but also what its name is. The goal with educating people this way, Piatz said, is so they will be able to pick out the bird in a crowd. That way, people will not only recognize them when they are around, but also when they are gone, she said.
    In addition, she hopes to tie the connection the birds have with Minnesota and other countries, such as Mexico, Brazil and Canada. Just as what is done in Minnesota to care for the birds’ habitats impacts the number of birds that will be seen in other countries, how other countries treat their native habitats impacts the number of birds seen in Minnesota, she said.     
    “Our lands are connected,” she said.
With a love for wildlife and nature, artist Tanya Piatz raises awareness about birds that are species of concern.
    Piatz likes to use a variety of mediums when she illustrates. The artwork that is displayed at GRA consists of dye-based alcohol ink, ink and pencil. Each medium has its place.
    The birds are usually illustrated in color with backgrounds drawn in pencil or other grey tones. The color is meant to highlight the decline in native habitat areas for many birds. Just like graphite, which pencils are made of, can be removed, Piatz said it isn’t too late to make a difference in the native habitats that are slowly disappearing, she said.
    Reminiscing, Piatz said she has loved nature as long as she can remember.
    “I was always outside whenever I could, observing wildlife and getting familiar with the trees in the area,” she said.
    Growing up in Monticello, she recalls riding along with her parents in the car. They’d stop by Dairy Queen for a treat and drive around on rural roads just to see if they could find any wildlife.
    Just as the love for nature has always been with her, Piatz said it is the same when it comes to art. Even when she broke her wrist while skipping on the handle bars at a young age, she could not be kept from drawing — she just used her left her instead.
    Of the artwork that is displayed at GRA, Piatz said some pieces took longer to make than others. But the work to create an art piece begin long before she has a pen or pencil in her hand. With a camera in her hand, Piatz said she enjoys bird watching for hours and takes photos of them. It is a special feeling when she captures one that is on the DNR’s list of specifies of concern, she said.
    She then draws the birds from the photos she has taken.
    Piatz said she also researches why a specific bird made it onto the list and then finds a way to incorporate it into her artwork.
    Although she highlights the situation for some of the birds, such as the Pileated Woodpecker and the Olive-Sided Flycatcher, in the exhibit at GRA, Piatz said she included a few familiar birds, too, in hope to inspire people to try out bird watching.
    While Piatz likes many birds, one of her favorites is the black-capped chickadee.
    “I think they’re just really resilient little birds. They’re very social and interact with the other species really well,” she said.
    Because they are social with other species and communicate well, Piatz believes it works to their advantage for their survival.
    “It’s like they become friends with everybody else, so everybody else is more willing to share information with them, like where there is food,” Piatz said.
    How much time is spent creating each artwork differs, but it isn’t unusual for Piatz to spend several hours on it. She also likes to create their eyes extremely expressive to the point that when a viewer looks at it, he or she can see all the small, but different details. Piatz said to create all the micro fine details, she uses a very fine pen, a micron in the size of 005.
    “It has the smallest line I could find in a pen, so I use that so I can get in there and add that detail. To me, it kind of helps build a piece up a little bit more,” she said.
    Piatz encourages people to train their eyes to see more in depth of what is going in a habitat when they are looking at nature. As people become more trained in knowing what kind of habitats certain species have, she believes people will be able to pick up more details.
    Because of the tremendous details Piatz includes in her illustrations, it’s not always easy to know when to stop working on a piece. Piatz said she likes to leave the artwork alone for a few days and then determine whether it is completed or needs a few touch ups.
    Besides drawing birds, Piatz enjoys creating art pieces with other wildlife, as well. She has completed many pet portraits and also commissioned a fox piece, she said.
    When she isn’t creating art, Piatz enjoys spending time with her husband, Andrew Sandberg, and their son, Trent, 16, hiking, camping, photographing and just being outdoors.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   
Staff writer
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