“Green Feathers” 6×6, oil on gessoboard, $75 Buy Now
This is a Cuban Tody, a beautiful little bird I discovered a couple days ago as I scoured through images of different bird species online.
I’ve said it before, but I’m a bird watcher. I watch them in my backyard, on my drives through town, and on countless websites. Ezra, who doesn’t say much, says, “Burr” when he hears or sees one. I can’t imagine what it felt like to discover the world new each day, name what I saw, categorizing things for the first time, but, lately, my bird paintings have gotten me close to that type of wonder. I understand the excitement in Ezra’s voice when he calls out, “burr,” “dog,” or “cat”.
I see a therapist, and at yesterday’s appointment, I found myself in the company of several children and a woman who appeared to be their mother in what is normally an empty waiting room. I’m not the best judge of age, but I’d guess of the four kids, the youngest was three and the oldest ten. This was a small room, the bunch of us took up all but a couple of chairs. The office keeps stacks of the Wall Street Journal on the side table next to the couch and the kids were hungrily and excitedly picking up the newspapers, shouting out headlines in shock and wonder, reading a few lines from the articles themselves, and then tossing them aside for the next sensation.
“There’s a war!!” one of the boys shouted.
“Oh my god!!!” the other replied, both of their mouths agape, eyebrows raised in both horror and excitement. None of this was affected. They were not performing.
Which is not how I, or any other adults I’ve seen, read the newspaper. I’d say my overall response to most headlines is an untheatrical, “Oh,” and while I’d like desperately to be scandalized once more by the idea of war or famine, I’m not sure how to get there without also losing some of the knowledge I’ve gained in my adult years. The kids were also talking about how Muslims kill Christians for fun, a gross misinterpretation of one of the articles they were reading (screaming?)
This is my point: I find the world (more accurately my own life?) overwhelming so I paint birds. I look for them on my walks and errands, listen for them when I sit on my porch. They, at least right now, represent something new, something I never much noticed before, and, for a split second, when I spot one, I feel like a child again. Naming, watching in a kind of awed wonder. Experiencing them for what feels like the first time.