“I want to paint the way a bird sings.” Claude Monet
Sometimes I wish I could compose beautiful poetry. If I could, I’d write some lines about the beauty of a bird in flight, the graceful curve of the wing, the focused determination in the eye, head down, feet up. There is just something magical in the sight of a bird soaring through the air that begs for poetry.
If I could be a storyteller, I’d make up a story about the birds chattering in the trees and swooping down to the feeder to snatch a morsel or two. I wonder if they talk to each other? They make funny little noises when they congregate in the trees around the feeder. I imagine them gossiping about who’s hogging all the seed or who flew off for a few days and didn’t tell the others where they were going or whose feathers were looking a little shabby. Can cardinals understand the chatter of chickadees? Do finches converse with sparrows?
Since I am not a poet or a storyteller, I paint birds. Sometimes I paint the single bird in a stance I believe to be a pose for the camera. At other times, I paint them in groups or pairs and arrange them as though they are conversing. While I paint them, I imagine what they are thinking and what would they say if they could talk? Maybe they do talk. I just don’t understand bird language.
Since joining the American Birding Association, I am learning more about different birds and bird behavior. My camera has become a constant companion as I wander around searching for subjects to paint. Every now and then, I capture the image of one I don’t know so I go to the ABA’s bird identification Facebook page, “What’s this Bird?” I post the image. The identification returns quickly and my bird knowledge expands.
As I learn more about which bird is which and why one swoops and another soars, I’ll go on wondering if they talk amongst themselves or if they concentrate on each flight and not on what their companions are doing? Maybe a story will come to me. Or possibly some lines of poetry will pop into my head. Perhaps a painting will be a poem one day or possibly tell a story. Paraphrasing Monet, I hope to paint like birds fly. In the meantime, I’ll just keeping painting.