This scarlet ibis stood there, quite content, preening, at the Sylvan Height Bird Park. Birds have such balance – resting on one leg and flexibility – reaching everything with their beaks. This is, of course, necessary – their arms are not so useful for picking things up as our arms. Our heads cannot twist to our backs, but usually our arms can.
I do wish that I could master that standing on one leg trick. If you’ve ever tried Wii Fitness you know they have a balance section. When I have done it, the Wii is quite aggressive and mocking in it’s assessment of my ability to stay balanced. It guesses my age as about double reality. I can hear the voice now, “Do you trip often when you are walking?”
I hope this bird inspires contentedness and peace wherever it goes – perhaps flexibility is a large part of it.
We are in that sweet spot weather-wise in North Carolina. Our days are cool without being cold and warm without being hot. We have bright sunshine and clear blue skies. (All of that sounds very every day in San Diego, apart from the bright sunshine.
They are predicting a very cold winter here – native North Carolinans keep telling me really hot summers mean really cold winters. So, before we are stomping over ice, a fellow artist and I hit the road to Scotland Neck and visited the Sylvan Heights Bird Park.
We walked around the loop in the opposite direction to our previous visit. This meant we captured the active morning period with a different set of birds this time. We got to hear the kookaburra “laugh” and one of the parrots “say hello”. We also got to witness a “beak-off” or two in a crowd of flamingos. All in all, it was a great day.
I was also able to find and name the ducks I captured last time and painted recently, see above. They are White-Faced Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna viduata).
Today I thought I’d share the story behind my recent painting, “Surround Sound”.
This bird is a black-necked stilt. They are very common on American coastlines. They are black and white in feather color and have relatively long red pink legs. I watched this one as it pranced around Sylvan Heights Bird Park last April. It was quite enchanting really – a relatively small lithe body perched on top of these long graceful legs that scream “look at me”.
Those long legs, of course, indicate that this bird is a wader in shallow waters. The bird wasn’t any taller than my kneecap and yet was very captivating. Being so small, I’m sure the bird has an entirely different viewpoint then we do. This is what I tried to capture here. This bird’s world is very active and surrounds him, towers over him. He sees many things that we do not from the top down.
One of the things I missed out on growing up in California was the change of seasons. Yes, they do have seasons there, but the change is subtle – you have to look for it.
Out here on the east coast, it is not subtle. You notice the change of season, even if you are really busy and work inside most of the time.
Fall is an exciting time as a bird artist. Of course, many birds are on the move, so there is a greater chance to see new species. As well, leaves are falling – so the birds are more visible. And, as almost goes without saying, the weather is more mild, so a day out at a bird park is a very attractive option.
So, this week I’m going to set a date for Sylvan Heights Bird Park and for a morning to get out early and get some sketching in. The mandarin duck painted above is from my last visit to the bird park.
This past weekend was Wake Forest’s annual Tour of Artists. Artists were all over town and outlying areas demonstrating, working on their art, and talking shop all day Saturday and Sunday.
It is a fun event every year. I chatted with several people beginning on their watercolor journeys. One gentleman and I shared our favorite bird memories.
One of my paintings went to a special home. We were discussing how hard it can be to let go of a favorite painting (the man is also an artist) and he very sweetly asked me if I could part with “That First Step”. As they were purchasing, the couple discussed where they would put it. It’s very easy to part with paintings that you know will be loved and enjoyed! I secretly hope the painting inspires the man to begin sharing his art with the world – I hope it convinces him to take that first step.
I’ve been working on this piece for a few weeks. I took it to Art After Hours on the second Friday this month. I plan to take it tonight to a “studio party” night of our local guild.
I’ve tried some new techniques on this one, which, of course, makes me concerned it’s all headed for disaster! But, a very sweet lady, who regularly stops by my booth at Art After Hours, mentioned that stilts are her favorite birds and she rarely sees them painted. So, I promised her I’d get this finished for her.
There was another gentlemen that night that told me Red-Tailed Hawks are his favorite bird. He even recognized that the one I had painted was a young bird – very encouraging to have bird lovers engaging with my work.
I’m very excited to say that I am the featured artist in the current 27587 magazine. Kathryn Rende wrote a nice article about our day out looking for birds in January. Above you see a snapshot of the first page. They have put their other issues online, so if this one goes online, I will be sure to send out the link!
My youngest was home sick today with a tummy bug. We played the doodle game. First person draws a squiggle, then the second person has to make it into something. These were the two most successful of the day.