I am surrounded by birds. Inside, in the old house’s green kitchen, our two chatty cockatiels whisper and cluck, sing and whistle. Occasionally their conversation becomes too much for “Yoda,” the cranky African Grey parrot who resides in a large cage nearby. “Stop it!” She’ll shout. “No!” And for a while, the kitchen becomes silent, the only sounds wafting in from outdoors where an eagle’s squeaky high pitched chirp will punctuate the air, a seagull will wail, and a crowd of crows will gather and talk, loud, long and scoldingly, especially if the eagle swoops in too close.
I am back from the opening of my new show at Museo Gallery in the lovely seaside town of Langley on beautiful Whidbey Island. The evening was so much fun for me. (Thank you Sandra and Kari!) Going from the still and silent studio (except when the cockatiels and the parrot are arguing back and forth) to the gregariousness and excitement of First Saturday on First Street is a thrill. It is so interesting to hear folks’ reaction to the work: the colors, the process, the layers, the inspiration and the birds.
I was asked if I owned birds. I said I did. And of course I had to talk about Yoda and how she “answers” the phone, imitates our voices, calls to the dog, sings “Who let the dogs out…woof, woof, woof, woof!”
Her spirit and humor find their way into my paintings. As do the swallows that return and nest, swooping and soaring with their distinctive split tails, into the three little grey houses that sit high above our little French-inspired garden behind the house. A kingfisher dips and dives into the sea not far away. A heron, looking like a wise old man, stands patiently at water’s edge looking for morning sushi. The cormorants line an old pier, their black oily wings held out to the sun like arms, basking and drying in the sun’s warmth.
The birds in my painting are about all of these exquisite creatures. Their songs, their dreams, their nests, their courting and new babies. Have you ever seen a parent eagle soaring above through clouds, chirping and encouraging a timid young eaglet to fly? Or a black glossy crow balance on a branch, gently feeding its cranky scolding hungry toddler?
Birds are about love and nuturing, joy and abundance. Happy relationships, flying, nestling, in gardens filled with orange and red and pink plump berries, shaded and enveloped by a dappling of green and red leaves. I hear them sing and include their songs. The notes blend with the paint. Pretty sounds. I imagine their dreams. And then I pick up my brush.