Starlings (Draw-a-Bird Day)

painted starling close up s

It is night &
it’s snowing & starlings
fill the trees above us, so many it seems

the leaves sing. I can’t see them
until they rise together at some hidden signal

& hold the shape of the tree for a moment
before scattering.

–Nick Flynn, from “Father Outside”

After I finished the starling above I was really unhappy with the background.  It seemed too timid for the bird I had drawn, so I cut it out.  Which turned out to be a good thing, because I could then play with it–first I put it on top of a paper mailing envelope I had opened and painted on and wasn’t sure what to do with.

painted starling s

Much better.

painted starling comp

It also looks fine on either plain black or white.  This bird was done in Neocolors.

pencil starling 2s

Starling was the next bird on my childhood bird list.  My first attempt was a pencil drawing, done with the new pencils my daughter got me for my birthday.  The colors in the set were perfect.

murmuration close up s

And how could I do starlings without attempting a murmuration?  For that, I watercolored a sunset and started stitching birds.  The good thing about a deadline is that I needed to call it finished for today.  I love to embroider, and could have kept stitching until the sky was filled with birds…

murmuration s

Nick Flynn is a poet from Boston, who often examines family relationships in his work.  You can read the entire poem “Father Outside” here.  It is both stark and beautiful.

Starlings are one of the most commonly seen street birds in New York, along with pigeons and sparrows.  They are not native to the United States; legend has it that they were introduced into Central Park in the 1890s, because the American Acclimatization Society decided that all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare should live in the United States.  I first really took notice of them because one of my apartments had windows across from the roof of the building next door, and the starlings used to sit on the railing every morning and go through their amazingly wide repertoire of songs.  They are wonderful mimics.

very close up stitching s

But enough from me:  put a link to YOUR birds in the comments section, and Nina and I will do a summary later in the week.

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61 responses to “Starlings (Draw-a-Bird Day)”

  1. Claudia McGill says :

    I LOVE the individual starling and how the background looks like a blurred version of more twigs and branches. Wow!

    And the starlings in the sky really made me smile. I also love watching them swoop and intertwine in the sky, it is fascinating and mysterious.

    • memadtwo says :

      Very mysterious. I got lost in the photos and videos you can find online…
      And I was really pleased how the random painting worked as a background. It’s that also mysterious magnetism that draws things to each other again.

  2. M.R. Emberson says :

    Beautiful as usual!

  3. Laura (Createarteveryday) says :

    Wow, these are amazing! The hardest part is trying to choose a favorite! I may have to go with the embroidered piece. Love the colors you chose in all of these, just what we need on a winter Monday morning. And the top bird too is really a standout! Love the background also, Kerfe. Really beautiful work! And your daughter’s gift is looking good on that starling too! 😀💛😀

  4. Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash) says :

    Stunning starlings!! 😍This is wonderful! Those colors…yes!! I didn’t know that about Shakespeare’s birds and the into of starlings. Interesting story! I’m definitely in for Draw A Bird day again this month! I’ll try to remember to come back and post my link! 😊hehe

  5. Jodi says :

    Oh Kerfe! So much beautifiousness! I love every one of these! I love how you cut the starling out and created a bold background, and I can’t believe how much I love the embroidered flock on the watercolor background!!! Can you show us a close up? It is hard to tell that it is embroidered, and I want to see every little detail 🙂 Magnifico!!!!!!!!!!! Bravo!

    Here is my silly link to my whimsical birds: http://lifeinbetween.me/2016/02/08/a-parliament-of-owls/

  6. circadianreflections says :

    Each Starling is wonderful, but the last one is my favorite. How did you embroider on the paper and not rip it? It’s amazing!

    Thank you Laura (Createarteveryday) for inviting me to share my link here for Draw a Bird Day!

    https://circadianreflections.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/vermilion-flycatcher-male-in-watercolor-1/?c=4627#comment-4627

    • memadtwo says :

      First you need paper with some substance. Then poke the holes with the needle first (believe it or not, it took me awhile to figure that out). It’s easy to stitch when the hole is already there for you.
      And thanks for participating!

  7. Sharon Mann says :

    Wonderful bird studies, I always enjoy your mix media solutions, Especially the stitched starlings. Thank you Kerfe.

  8. Lynz Real Cooking says :

    I love how you cut it out! So creative!

  9. Teresa Robeson says :

    Starlings are equal part vermin and fascinating creatures. I don’t like to let them to our feeders until I think the native birds have had their fill. Starlings, like the house sparrows (also an import, as you know), are clever and opportunistic, fending well for themselves; they’re not remotely in danger of being endangered so I like to let my rare birds eat their fill first. 😀

    I LOVE your paintings! It was a great idea to cut it out and put it on a different background…not only is it a lovely background, but that gave it some depth as well. The murmuration painting is really successful and reminds me of all the rivers of blackbirds we used to see so often in the dusk sky in Delaware.

  10. Susan Feniak says :

    Very creative. How does one go about making a Starling special? You have done it! Cheers go you!! 🙂

  11. Snehal Kank says :

    This one is beautiful Kerfe! Here is my bird for this month
    https://snehalkank.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/bird-day-rose-breasted-grosbeak/
    Thank you 🙂

  12. cavepainter says :

    All of these starling pictures have really nice colors. I like the cut paper idea. 🙂

    I made a chiffchaff today- https://artrelatedblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/draw-a-bird-day-2/
    Apparently it’s a European bird, the photographer for the reference photo is in Switzerland.

    • memadtwo says :

      Thanks for the link–the greys are really effective. I do love all the different colors in the iridescent feathers of black birds. I may have exaggerated a bit…

  13. Jill Kuhn says :

    Oh, how I love that you stitched on paper! And that you cut out your starling to play with the backgrounds. YAY! Kerfe!

    My silly bird is at: https://artjillkuhn.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/a-dipsy-doodle-bird/

  14. kestrelart says :

    I really love the way this post builds with the cut out / collage to the painted background and stylised birds forming a murmuration.

    Here is my bird link. Thanks for inviting contributions. For me, birds are iconic as living dinosaurs, not simply descended from but real here and now dinosaurs more akin to velociraptors and tyrannosaur than those so called reptiles are related to lizards and turtles. I need to go again and draw birds as spring arrives.

    https://kestrelart.wordpress.com/living-dinosaurs/

  15. Laura (Createarteveryday) says :

    http://createarteveryday.com/2016/02/08/draw-a-bird-day-february-41-100-face-challenge/

    Here’s my link, Kerfe – and not sure if you saw my comment on your artwork, above. Didn’t want you to miss it. Have a great night!

  16. Carol says :

    I think my favorite is the one you did with the colored pencils, but I enjoyed all of them! Here is a link to my post – thanks for compiling them for us once again 🙂
    https://carolscreativepapers.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/draw-a-bird-day-february-2016/

  17. artandmoondreams says :

    A feast for the senses. Wonderful drawing and paintings. Enjoyed the variety of methods used to complete and enhance your paintings. The poem is so beautiful and poignant, thank you for introducing him. And finally, the embroidery of the murmuration is brilliant and that you “…could have kept stitching until the sky was filled with birds…” is poetry in itself. Thank you for sharing your art.

  18. beverlydyer says :

    Love the stitching!! I’ve been interested in combining quilting and watercolor in some manner. Here is my bird link http://artprescription.com/2016/02/08/draw-a-bird-day-february-8-2016/

  19. judithgarnett says :

    Love the starlings, i saw my first murmuration last week and it was spectacular, the sky behind was just as you depicted it. I was thinking of trying to put the vision onto paper but wasn’t sure how to do it justice so thanks for your ideas and thanks too to Laura for introducing me to your site. Not quite sure how to upload my bird to your collection but feel free to check out my blog where my birds reside.
    Thank you

  20. Myriam (Myr's Bytes) says :

    Oo, your murmuration is so neat! There is something quite touching about the stitched birds :-). And your individual drawings are beautiful. And the changeable background is ingenious!

    I drew a couple of birds – red and yellow. You can find them here:

    http://myrsbytes.com/2016/02/08/draw-a-bird-day-the-cardinal-and-the-martian-eyeball/

  21. Marcy Erb says :

    I wish I could “like” this post more than once! The stitching in your murmuration is amazing and so inspirational.

    • memadtwo says :

      Thanks Marcy. It was a very zen experience…which reminds me, I need to get back to more stitching. I’ve been stuck in collage mode for quite awhile!

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