For 125 million year, birds have owned the sky. But what is a bird? Evolving from dinosaurs and still closely related to reptiles, birds are defined as warm blooded invertebrates with wings and feathers.
While not all bird species can fly (think penguins and ostriches), it seems that humans have always marveled at their ability to soar through the sky, untethered to the ground as we are. Their seemingly weightlessness and maneuverability in the air mystifies me. Birds seem to possess an enviable freedom as we watch them spread their wings and lift off. The loveliness of their song fills us with joy!
This past winter, I’ve been working away on a series of 15 bird paintings.
For this project, I’ve partnered with the St. John’s Health Foundation and the JH Public Art to create a collection of bird paintings for Sage Living Senior Center, the new long term nursing care unit. Filled with color, my intention to create pieces that will uplift spirts with the sense of delight and wonder that we experienced when encountering birds.
Birds have been a focus of my art for over 10 years. As I’ve studied and observed this species, I am intrigued by the diversity- a calliope hummingbird is the smallest bird in North America is less than one tenth of an ounce and measures 3” long while a trumpeter swan can be over 5 feet long and weigh over 30 lbs! Some birds have long necks while others have big eyes. Some are strict herbivores while others are fierce hunters. The fact that birds come in all shapes, sizes and colors is an artist’s dream! There is no limit to where they take my creativity. The diversity found in bird species stimulates creativity and allowed me to explore a wide variety of approaches to design, color and paint application. It was an opportunity to take risks and fly free artistically. Long-time viewers of my work might find some of these paintings surprising.
For this five month project, I wanted to include only birds that might actually be viewed from the Sage Living’s location which is adjacent to the National Elk Refuge. Since over 175 bird species have been spotted there, I had difficulty narrowing the list down to 15 kinds of birds. Since they are all local birds, I hope these pieces provide a sense of place and connect the viewer with our regional ecosystem. I also hope identification of the birds will stimulate cognitive function and memory for the Living Sage residents. Mostly, I hope that it will be a happy, accessible series with much to discover for viewers of all ages!