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Tiger Shrike (Draw a Bird Day)

the spirits of the places
I move through
appear as birds–

residents of sidewalks,
street trees, roofs, parks–
the spirits of the places

stopping me, waiting for me
to acknowledge them as
I move through

thinking of someone I’ve lost–
as if they had suddenly
appeared as a bird

It would be very unusual to spot a tiger shrike in New York City, as they reside in wooded habitats in eastern Asia, and are quite shy. But if you did, that would be the male with the mask. The female has more more subtle coloring, which makes the eye appear larger.

Like all shrikes, they used their sharp hooked beaks to impale their prey–insects, small birds, lizards, rodents. They are not considered threatened, although populations are declining.

My cascade is a (belated) response to Brendan’s discussion at earthweal about spirits of place. I’ve felt spirits in certain of my residences, although I haven’t stayed in many places long enough to establish a relationship. But everywhere I go in the city I find birds.

Birds are considered in many cultures to be a bridge between the human and spirit worlds. I know I’m not the only person who has wondered if someone I’m missing sometimes visits me in the form of a bird.

Weekend Work 4/25/22

Some work based around the lower spine and pelvis bone found by a friend who knows I like this stuff.

The actual piece and the drawing. If I had to guess at the animal I’d say probably a deer. My friend found it in a field in upstate New York.

Some drawings of a vertebra that came loose from the spine.

Still life with mosaic vase, pencil, rock and vertebra.

A very rare find, found by another friend. He thought it was a baby deer skull. Quite unusual to find the bottom jaw still attached.

My husband is still going through hell with yet a third hospital admission, this time for sepsis. He is home; he has to go for antibiotic infusions every day. Today might be the last day and we are seeing a hematologist later to discuss coagulation. My husband developed a pulmonary embolus and has been on a blood thinner for a long time. This entire thing started around January 19 and he is still struggling. Sending vibes up to the universe constantly to get him better!

Have a good week. Nina

Weekend Drawing 4/11/2022

I think it’s the first time in two years using white paper. It was fun sitting down and drawing for no other reason than to draw.

Two versions of a bird’s claw. The claw was a gift to me many years ago. I’ve always liked it.

My mom’s nautilus shell. I have a large container of her shells and beach glass.

The models for these drawing were right in front of me. It was fun drawing again and I think I’ll make it a regular practice.

Husband is going to work today 10-3. I’m a bit worried but I know he wants to go back and I’m glad for him. Tomorrow is our 41st anniversary. Have a good week! Nina

Striped Owl (Draw a Bird Day)

sometimes in dreams I
remember a time when my spirit was
lifted by stars, silent
as a secret, and then
suddenly moonbound dark and
luminous–everything felt
ancient and reawakened—like the
hushed feathered womb of owl
wings singing in a windswept quaver

Another orange and black bird for the Year of the Tiger. The striped owl is found in Central and South America, inhabiting savannas and semi-open grasslands.

My poem is another Golden Shovel, with lines extracted from Arthur Sze’s wonderful poem “The Owl”. I’ve used it before as inspiration, and probably will again.

And I’m sure owls will show up, as they have before, on Draw A Bird Day as well.

Drawing a horse

A policeman and his horse on Garrett Mountain overlooking Paterson, NJ. I used to draw a lot of horses as a kid. I even painted a life sized one on the Nature Shack at Camp Nah-Jee-Wah where I was a camper and then a counselor…back in the day.

My husband continues his battle with Covid. We have oxygen in the house which helps. He has fallen a few times, badly. He’s on a blood thinner which makes things worse i.e. a huge hematoma on his left side and a swollen left hand from his fall on Friday. He still has a good attitude but it’s been a long haul. (The doctors don’t call it long haul Covid yet as it’s only been three months).

Have a good week!

Drawing a Door for Thursday Doors

The paper waits.
There’s nothing on it yet.
I print the photo,
measure in my mind
where to place the door.
Is that the focal point of my drawing,
or is it the guardian, the mirror?

The paper waits.
With tentative lines,
my pencil begins.
Lines, circles and squares
fill in the details.
And then with pen in hand I scribble ink–
and gradually a form starts to  appear.

I’ll be the first to admit that architecture is not my artistic forte. Still, since Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt was to share a photo from your day and write a poetic accompaniment, I decided to give it a try for my Thursday Door. The poetic form I used was Duodora.

I don’t always pencil in things first, but in this case it seemed necessary if I wanted any kind of successful result. The proportions are off, but you can definitely tell it’s a door.

And you might even recognize it as the side door to the Lucerne Hotel, on West 79th Street. The entrance is quite wonderful too, but I’ll need to get up early to try to capture it when there’s not much traffic, as I need to take the photo from across the street. The Lucerne was used, controversially, as a shelter for the homeless during the Covid lockdown, but I think now it’s back to just being a hotel. You can read a bit more about its history here.

Baltimore Oriole (Draw a Bird Day)

my eye attempts to join
with wings, lifted
by an unseen wind–
a blurred displacement
of air expanding the horizon
beyond all sense of limits–
the sky trembles, held
in a featherlight embrace,
as if it, too, would rise,
spellbound,
into the cosmic sea

A quadrille that includes the word eye for dVerse, hosted by Bjorn. It’s not specifically about an oriole, but in the spirit of Draw a Bird Day.

The Baltimore Oriole, named for its orange and black feathers that are the same colors as Lord Baltimore’s coat of arms, summers in the Northeastern and Central United States and Canada, migrating to Florida, the Caribbean islands, and Central and South America in winter. New World orioles are not related to Old World orioles, but are part of the blackbird and meadowlark family.

Residing in forest edges and open woodlands, the oriole’s diet includes insects, flowers, and fruits. They especially like ripe fruit, and can be attracted to bird feeders with orange slices or sugar water. They weave unique hanging nests that look delicate but are remarkably strong. You can see photos and read more about their nests here.

Females and young males have a subtle grey and golden coloring although females grow more orange with each molt, and may end up close to the bright male coloring as they age.

Orioles are not endangered, but they are in decline, partially due to their preference for nesting in elm trees, which have been devastated by Dutch Elm Disease.

Orioles are the second of my orange and black birds for the Year of the Tiger. You can see the first one, the Rufous Treepie, here.

Rufous Treepie (Draw a Bird Day)

In your native landscape
they call you taka chor
always wanting more, more–
objects, glitter

Filling trees with loud calls,
attention-seeking mein–
to be both heard and seen–
crow to the core

The rufous treepie, a long-tailed bird native to India and southeast Asia, is known locally as taka chor, or “coin stealer”. Like all corvids, it loves shiny objects, and has no misgivings about taking anything that catches its eye.

Also, like all crows, it will eat pretty much anything, and is intelligent, adaptable, and opportunistic.

Primarily arboreal, it feeds mostly among the forest cover, and will often hunt with other bird species to flush out more insects from the trees. As its woodland habitat decreases, however, it has learned to live in urban parks and yards, and has no problem eating discarded human food or road kill, if that’s what’s available.

I chose the rufous treepie while looking for orange and black birds in honor of the Year of the Tiger. That may be my bird theme for the year–there are many to choose from.

The poem is an abhanga for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. Appropriately, an Indian poetic form.

The top bird was done with brush and ink, the middle one is neocolors, and the bottom one is colored pencil with ink outlines–I found a feather quill pen I bought years ago in a box. It’s a bit tricky to use, and I’m out of practice. But I enjoyed working with it again.

Western Meadowlark:  Draw a Bird Day

crescent silhouette
yellow breast
white flash winging
singing
through air

The Western Meadowlark, a resident of western and central North America, is not actually a lark, but is related to blackbirds and starlings. Like larks, though, it is one of the few birds that sings as it flies. The black crescent on its bright yellow breast and the white flash of its tail feathers when flying make it easy to identify.

Though not yet considered endangered, breeding populations have declined 50% in the last 50 years. The meadowlark’s favored habitat of wide open fields and natural grasslands has been declining due to agriculture, housing development, pesticides, invasive plant species, and fire suppression that alters the composition of native landscapes.

I’ve written a gogyoka for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday color poetry challenge.

Eagle (draw a bird day)

sacred king
of the sun, spirit
of mercy,
renewal,
visionary messenger–
extend us your wings

Eagles are one of the world’s largest birds, with massive wings that allow them to fly for a long time and with great speed, all with a minimum of effort. They can go many weeks between meals, and will eat whatever is available in their habitat–other birds, amphibians, fish, small mammals. They can carry up to four times their own body weight, but will often scavenge for food rather than killing live prey.

“Eagle eye” is not just a saying. An eagle’s vision is eight times sharper than a human’s–they see both much farther, and with greater focus. They can also see a wider range of colors, including the ultraviolet spectrum.

I decided to do an eagle this month because Nina sent me this wonderful wooden eagle that her father brought back from Jerusalem. I have a bird totem carved by my sister-in-law’s father that Nina thought would make a good companion–and it does.

Although I began by drawing bald eagles, I realized after a bit of research that Nina’s eagle was more likely a golden eagle, which was once a common inhabitant of Israel, but is now only represented by a few breeding pairs, for all the usual reasons–decline of habitat, human predation. So I drew a golden eagle as well.

My poem is a shadorma. The eagle has powerful symbolism in cultures all over the world. Thanks, Nina, for adding this beautiful totem to my living space!