For the Birds

Birds look at us, and they’re glad that we can’t fly.

We look at them, and we wish that we could.”

― Anthony T. Hincks  Goodreads

Most of my art practice and teaching up until a couple of years ago, focused almost entirely on landscape and botanical subjects. The landscapes have been a sort of expressionist/impressionist outpouring of emotional color and texture while the botanicals are sedate, calm and realest.  Two sides of the coin would be an apt description. Then the birds flew in.

It happened as an unplanned thing.  Birds, since childhood, have held a fascination for me.  They are amazing creatures.  Why, I can’t imagine, did I never think of painting them.  It just didn’t occur to me, even though I loved watching them at my feeders.  My feeders were always set up where I could see them from my workspace windows. The bird’s antics were inspiring and joyful.

A couple of years ago, I was taking my work to art fair venues.  Quickly, I learned the best tactic for financial success in these venues was to have a selection of things that were inexpensive and easy for people to carry around as they browsed the fair. The large landscapes definitely didn’t fit with that idea.  The botanical watercolors did a bit better.  Quite by accident, I discovered mini canvases in the art supply store and began trying my hand at painting small.  The small canvases seemed the best suited to flowers rather than landscapes.  The little flowers sold fairly well at the fairs so I looked for more venues to sell them.

Heart and Hands is a shop on Main Street in Franklin, Tennessee that carries arts and crafts made locally.   The little flower canvases were a good fit in the shop and began to sell at a decent rate.  One day while talking with one of the owners, she asked if I painted birds. She thought they might have a market for paintings of birds.  It was a light bulb moment for me.  I loved birds so why not?

And so it began! The first birds were the ones at my feeders and they are still the most popular.  Hummingbirds and cardinals are the most frequent visitors to my feeders and the most common subjects for the paintings.  The paintings each seem to have a life of their own like the subjects they depict. No matter how small or how many I paint, each one is unique.  I don’t seem to be able to control that.  In some ways, they paint themselves.

With the change in my art to mostly birds, has come a bit of life change.  I am now addicted to roaming around with camera in hand, searching for birds, all kinds of birds, all sorts of places. The more I follow the birds, the more amazing I find them. I don’t know how I’ll find enough time to paint all of them but I’m going to try. It appears that my life is suddenly all  for the birds.

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