Gilt Edged Tanager (Draw a Bird Day)

I Dream of Brigid

In the beginning I was alone, carefully unwinding the wormlike stem of a large plant.  It seemed like a cactus to me at first, but gradually it reshaped itself into a huge iridescent flower.  I was surprised to suddenly find that instead of tendrils I was in possession of two glittering aqua and golden wings.  They opened my arms like bridges in the street of the sky.

Night walks, scattering poems, uncoiled in a spiraling serpent around me.  Feathers became flaming scales became feathers again, mercurial rainbows scattering glowing seeds, crossing and recrossing the portal that explored every direction between the darkness and the light.

My blood began to sing, an echo of bells vibrating, calling my name.  All the words I had lost or abandoned returned to me, transformed into candled threads sailing like a sea of flames on a river of stars.

I really did have this dream, at least the first part, which led me to look for a bird that fit those wings. The gilt edged tanager came closest. Native to Brazil, its habitat is fragmented, and though not considered endangered, the population is found primarily in protected reserves of moist lowland subtropical forests.

There are close to 400 species of birds in the tanager family. A few species live in the United States, but most of these colorful birds live in Central and south America.

Tanagers are associated with the goddess Brigid, which seems odd since they are not native to Ireland. But many cultures, including the Japanese, consider them to be messengers from the spirit world. They do look magical.

The story of my dream was written for dVerse prosery, where Linda provided a line from ee cummings, in the street of the sky night walks scattering poems, to be included in what we wrote.

I was not really happy with any of my renderings of this bird when I did them, but they are growing on me. In order: colored pencil, gouache, inkpen with watercolor, neocolor. It’s been a long time since I painted with gouache.

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About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel methodtwomadness is a blog of two friends, Nina and Kerfe kblog is Kerfe's solo branch on the tree

39 responses to “Gilt Edged Tanager (Draw a Bird Day)”

  1. merrildsmith says :

    Oh, this is magical, Kerfe! The dream-vision, the bird–even it’s name sounds magical. Beautiful!
    I love how you worked the line in, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz Gauffreau says :

    I love this tanager study in different mediums. (That was some dream you had!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ben Alexander says :

    simply gorgeous – and wow! what a dream…


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda Lee Lyberg says :

    Truly magical Kerfe. And your drawings are captivating. They are very special.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ken / rivrvlogr says :

    This is wonderful. It has such a mystical sense about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dorahak says :

    I wasn’t familiar with gouache and had to look it up, thinking it looked very watercolor-ish, which appears to be one of its components. Maybe it’s just the novelty but I liked this medium best for translating your dream-vision, though each one is brilliant with good affect. And the dream-vision itself is enigmatically rendered with just that quality of diffused sensation and the oracular that lingers in the mind. So beautiful, K.

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      Thanks Dora. Gouache is kind of between watercolor and acrylic. Each medium requires a different way of working. I’ve been doing mostly watercolor for a long time, so it’s an adjustment.
      The dream was certainly enigmatic…


  7. Colleen M. Chesebro says :

    What a beautiful bird, and I loved your poem, Kerfe. Just the name, gilt edged tanager, is poetic all on its own. That last stanza is pure magic! 🦄

    Liked by 1 person

  8. tiffanyarpdaleo says :

    I LOVE the colors you chose for these guys!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. paeansunplugged says :

    They are all stunning but my favourite is the gouache one. Such a vivid dream, so magical and the line seems chosen just for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. neil reid says :

    I love bird day – all of them, but ink pen with watercolor, that one roosts with me. And the story/poem, yea, wonderful – your words are birds in words (sorry). (a small but resplendent feast)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. msjadeli says :

    I cannot imagine how wondrous it was to dream of transforming into a bird. This line:
    “They opened my arms like bridges in the street of the sky.” so very metaphysical. Such a pretty bird. I’ve seen it in my Roger Tory Peterson field guide but never in nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      I rarely have vivid dreams like this. But there’s something with birds. I had a hoopoe dream, and I had never seen one. But I knew it immediately when I was trying to find the bird in my dream.
      I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen a tanager either.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Jill Kuhn says :

    Wow! I think each bird you created is fabulous! Love the bright colors on this bird. I cannot imagine 400 species of this bird, that is amazing in itself!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) says :

    Love how you painted the bird not just in colors but in words.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ingrid says :

    I love all of the resonances and colours here, Kerfe!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. D. Avery @shiftnshake says :

    This is a wonderful weave, dreamy and magical throughout, words and pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Poet Rummager says :

    Would love a dream like yours! Scintillating. Your birds are lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

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  1. gilt-edged tanager hatched - November 10, 2022

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