“The Birds are Circling” 9×12 inches, oil on paper

Today’s painting is a companion piece to yesterday’s. As I was painting it, I kept thinking “The vultures are circling…except maybe the opposite.” I used photographs of a white-tailed tropicbird for a reference for these birds although they are only very loosely based on their models.

I think the meaning gets lost to say, “The white-tailed tropicbirds are circling,” but the idea of birds circling, not because they think bloodshed will soon offer them an easy meal, but because they think some new thing, idea, hope, or love might be born, is what I am most after.

This morning I read on Wikipedia that “the tropicbirds’ call is typically a loud, piercing, shrill, but grating whistle, or crackle. These are often given in a rapid series when they are in a display flight at the colony.” I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Geese in Mary Oliver’s poem. Their call is “harsh and exciting” as it announces our place, “over and over, in the family of things.”


Please note: All 31 paintings will be on display at our gallery celebration February 24th from 5-8pm. The show will also feature other artists who have been part of a 31 in 31 community.

st joseph painting



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Written by Denise Hopkins

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