Gerald Wiens has a passion for nature. He has a master’s degree in wildlife biology to prove it.
When he took his first job as director of Chaplin Nature Center near Arkansas City he began taking photos of animals and nature to help teach visitors of the center.
At first, the photos were strictly for education, but after winning a photo contest in 1983, it became more of a hobby.
“The photo was of an opossum of all things,” he said. “After the contest people started writing me letters or calling wanting to buy some of my photos.”
Wiens began selling photos at arts and crafts shows like the upcoming Art and Music Stroll on Sunday in Marion.
Wiens has sold photos at the stroll every year since its started. He specializes nature photos, his favorite is birds, because they are a challenge.
“There’s a great sense of satisfaction when you get the perfect shot,” he said.
Sometimes Wiens goes photo shooting around the reservoir or county lake, but gets the best photos where animals are used to people or by using a blind or bait. His subjects are often birds at his backyard feeder.
“It’s the best place because it brings the animals to you,” he said.
Wiens also makes it a habit to have his camera with him at all times in order to capture moments as he sees them.
“You never know what you might find,” he said.
Although Wiens is a veteran of Art and Music Stroll, there will be several new artists this year including Susan Bartel and her watercolor works.
Bartel said she became interested in participating in the stroll after Gallery 101 owner Jan Davis asked if she wanted to display her art in the gallery this year.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity,” Bartel said.
Bartel regularly displays her art in Newton and is from North Newton. She said she has been interested in art since she could hold a paintbrush.
“I was always interested in art, but I didn’t get into watercolor until I returned to college to get a commercial art degree. There I learned how to paint,” she said.
After graduating, Bartel worked as a textbook illustrator and learned to be precise with her painting.
“I’ve been painting as a hobby now for 20 years,” she said. “My career taught me to be precise, but now I’m trying to unlearn that to share what I see.”
Usually Bartel starts her paintings using a photo reference.
“Getting the right shape is the hardest, so I use a photo get the right shape, then wean myself away from the photo to get the details,” she said. “The details is what makes the photo what it is.”
Bartel’s favorite items to paint are close focus flowers and landscapes. She enjoys playing with light and how it would hit the image at different times of day.
“I try to see the image in my mind’s eye and capture it,” she said.
Paintings can take anywhere from a few hours to 60 depending on the size and the amount of detail Bartel wishes to put into the painting.
Several of her pieces consisting of mostly watercolor and some acrylic will be available for viewing and purchase at Gallery 101 during the stroll. Several other artists and musicians as well as local businesses will be open from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday during the Art and Music Stroll in downtown Marion.