A few months ago, a bride-to-be whose wedding I will be painting, messaged me asking if I’d ever painted any whooping cranes. She explained that her fiancé has a special place for them in his heart because his grandfather once rescued one and nursed it back to health. The bird was later donated to the Audubon Zoo.

I hadn’t painted one before, but I remembered their long necks and graceful wings from the pages of our “W” encyclopedia in my childhood home back when “look it up” meant go to the bookshelf and find the one with the first letter of the word you want to know about.

She ended up gifting her fiancé the painting on the left Christmas. I painted the two birds because they seemed to be in the midst of some sacred dance, and I thought it appropriate for a couple preparing for marriage.

For today’s painting, I’ve done a little study of one of the birds from that painting. But it felt lonely and off, so I started the study of the second crane from the painting, which I will post tomorrow.

One painting every day is easy compared to the arduous task of this morning: convincing a six year old still high on Christmas-break that he did in fact have to get dressed and go to school. There were tears, arguing, little arms flailing, trying to escape the restraints of the arm holes in a uniform shirt. I wasn’t sure that I would triumph in the end, but when I got back from battle school drop-off, my watercolors were waiting for me. A little tired and ragged, I sat down to what felt a very silly task. And then the water led me into that gentleness I’ve been trying since day 1 to understand. It is a meditation, a break, a deep breath.

My relationship with my child may not be a gentle, graceful, dance, but in all its clumsiness and fumbling, all the trying, laughing, falling, surrendering, hugging, building, negotiating, pleading, loving, there is a certain sacredness. It’s only been a week, but the little switch from oil to water has been just enough of a jolt to the system that I’m finding new understandings– both on and off the paper. 

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