100 Days of Birds: Wandering in the background

 |  June 13, 2017

Next time I am crazy enough to sign myself up for a 100 day challenge, it needs to not coincide with the end of the school year madness. School stuff, life stuff, daily birds, and other art commitments have kept me busy and some things slid off the radar, like my blog. Which I love, so it makes me sad that I just have a hard time finding the time. Anyway. Perhaps this summer I can get back into the practice of writing again. (ha! I know, a futile attempt as summer is never very productive)

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wip of Day 64: Yellow Warbler

Yesterday when I was painting day 64 above I was thinking about The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich. She is a favorite author of mine who writes fiction that circles around contemporary Native American lives and issues. One character, emerging from a dark period starts to notice all the details around him. “A chickadee pausing with a tiny worm in its beak, the blessed gurgle of a red-winged Blackbird, the waves sounding on the lakeshore- anything, everything, caused Shaawano a happiness almost as unbearable as his pain. In this way, too, it was difficult to be so weakened…”

That passage really resonated with me for many reasons. I have always noticed birds, but it really has deepened these past 60 + days. And for me, it always heightens my appreciation for life at that moment. I have often thought of my art practice as prayers of thanks and gratitude. And these gouache bird portraits, while not something that I normally do, are no different.

I am currently on bird 65 as of yesterday. It is inevitable that if you do something daily, that that something changes along the way. I have found that my backgrounds take me much longer than my birds. Painting something from life/photo source has always been meditative for me. It is the more abstract backgrounds, even as simple as painting repetitive circles that takes me longer. It’s often a meandering process for me. Exploring the surface of the paper, making marks, wiping it out with another color and somehow, someway it comes together.

Day 30: Indigo Bunting

Day 30: Indigo Bunting, available in the shop

I’ve learned that I really like to make dots and circles. I think about seeds, about counting, about the passage of time.

Day 39: Finch

Day 39: Finch, available in the shop

And other days I just allow my brush to wander around the surface of the paper.


Day 43: Flight of the Hummingbird, available in the shop

I recently got all 50 birds up on my site, and the ones that are still available are in the shop. Thanks for looking!


The clouds are my family.
When you cannot find me,
it is because my sisters
and brothers have called me.
We are singing circles of prayers
about the earth…
~James McGrath (b.1928), “Bird,” written in the 1970s
published in Dreaming Invisible Voices, 2009

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