Chestnut -Collared Longspur (Draw a Bird Day)
boundless blue, rimmed by
far horizons–an ocean
of windswept grass—wings
rise above the waves,
singing in constellations
of sky-feathered light
My choka envisions the American prairie as it once was–a diverse grassland ecosystem ideally suited to its variable climate, supporting hundreds of species, including migratory ones like monarchs. Less than one percent of the original prairie remains, its deep rooted grasses and wildflowers–as many as 200 different species per acre–replaced by suburban lawns and huge farms that grow only a few different crops, crops that lack the ability to replenish the soil and protect against drought. You only need to read about the Dust Bowl to see the results of destroying the native ecology.
Species that have mostly disappeared from the American prairie include bison, foxes, ferrets, elk, wolves, pumas, grizzly bears, beavers, prairie dogs, numerous insects, and all kinds of birds–prairie birds have suffered greater population losses than any bird group in North America.
The chestnut-collared longspur, like many prairie birds, eats seeds from native plants, and walks or runs along the ground to flush and capture insects to eat as well. It particularly like grasshoppers. Its name comes from the extra-long hind claws which help to navigate the uneven ground. Longspurs spend the summer in the northern prairies of the United States and Canada, and winter in southwest grasslands in the US and Mexico.
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.
Weekend Work 5/23/2022
This biblical phrase came via a gift of handmade paper sent by Kerfe. The piece is done on that paper which was not flat and had to be dampened with water and pressed with a board and rocks; I had to do this several times as the paper’s instinct was to curl up.
I kept that little slip of paper with these words and did this piece for myself. I am an anxious person: it’s in my DNA. Through my husband’s ordeal I could feel the ball of anxiety in my gut. He is home now, feeling better and bearing the scars of surgery. But I must not be anxious.
Posted this one in progress. It’s done now and added to the collection.
Have a good week! Nina
Weekend Work and update
The baby deer skull is done. This was a unique find by my friend Neil aka Nature Boy: it had its lower jaw attached and top and bottom teeth. I’m going to give it back to him.
I added to my working space in the living room. I am quite pleased with having more area. Who says living rooms can’t be art studios?
A couple started. I counted my paintings on black paper: 48. I picked out four to frame. I just ordered more black paper from Etsy so I guess I’m not done with these yet.
Sunday’s New York Times had this as its front and back cover. An unmitigated disaster.
Husband update: recovering from surgery, it went well, we just keep trying to be upbeat. He is a real trooper and I’m grateful that he’s like this and not like me, a crybaby who overreacts to everything.
Have a good week! Nina
A Protection Piece
My husband’s bout with Covid 19 has been documented here since January.
He will be going back to the hospital this week. He developed a problem which requires surgery.
The silver lining is that he has a great medical team: infectious disease, pulmonology, urology, hematology, surgical: he has seen all of these doctors.
I did this piece for his protection. I’m applying for Family Leave; my manager encouraged this as I’ve been shaky at work and prone to bursting into tears.
The surgery is scheduled for Friday. Please send good vibes to the universe and I will keep you posted.
Weekend Work 3/21/22
I did a little painting this weekend, catching up on a few already started. This one I’m probably going to cut up. The three images are too crowded, not enough space around them.
A good luck piece for my husband. Chai is Hebrew for life. Today is the first day he says he feels better.
Not finished but in a way I like it like this.
Best regards to all WordPress friends. Thanks for your kind words and support during my husband’s bout with Covid.
Weekend Work 3/7/2022
Woman with red hair, inspired by “The Gilded Age” currently on HBO. It was fun painting in all the details. The background is one of the great stone mansions. It’s a good show and the costumes are inspiring.
Landscape growing out of the sea. It was especially fun to paint the sea on the bottom.
Things have still been difficult as far as my husband and Covid. I made him go back to the doctor on Friday. She said the infection is lingering in part because he didn’t get treated earlier (he was four weeks in before he sought medical treatment) but she believes he will make a complete recovery. He went in to work today, still coughing but says he feels better.
Some little shoots are starting to come up in my yard. Spring is coming. Have a good week! Nina
Weekend Work 2/28/2022
Couple of things from this weekend. This one was made with a piece of the handmade paper Kerfe gave me, with three figures cut out of another painting. It’s different for me. Just go with it, I say.
My husband is still not feeling 100%. We just took a walk on a brisk sunny day here in NJ and he felt winded. Covid is no joke. This painting reflects my dreams which have been weird but not that scary.
Hoping for the best and for spring!
Weekend Work 2/14/2022
It’s been a long Covid haul at my house. I was down for two weeks. My husband is on day 22 of a very bad case (despite us all being triple vaxxed). My daughter also tested positive but was asymptomatic.
I got a chance to do some painting. I have a few going as usual but consider these two done.
I hope everyone is keeping safe and warm; another chilly day here on the east coast. Spring is coming!
Weekend Work 1/24/2022
Did some painting this weekend. I titled this one “Herd Immunity”. Ironic because my husband tested positive yesterday for Covid despite being vaxxed and boosted.
I can’t decide which way this looks better. I kind of like it both ways. The brown circles are decals that came with a piece of furniture we put together this week.
I’ve had this one hanging around for a while.
We’re going down to the office now to get swabbed. I tested negative yesterday but feeling not that great.
Have a good week! Nina