Friday, February 14, 2020

Road Runner Reprised

Road Runner / oil on canvas / 5x7 / unframed / $68 including shipping

I SAW TWO road runners the other day, in my dad's neighborhood in Tubac, AZ. They truly are ridiculous - running when they could fly! 

Apparently, there are reasons for this. According to American Expeditions, their wings are short, compared to the size of their bodies, and they can only stay airborne for a few seconds at a time. They fly only to escape predators, or when they're descending steep slopes. They can run as fast as 20 mph! 

For Today

I AM HEADING home to Virginia next week, a little earlier than planned. My dog-sitter is not crazy about my dogs, and that makes me sad and anxious. I am lonely - I am lonely all the time now - but I am particularly lonely for my doggies. And my friends, and my house and studio. 

So the Bird A Day project will probably be on hiatus as I make my way across the country. Or it might not. Either way, it will pick up again when I hit the Eastern Shore.

Thursday, February 13, 2020


Raven / oil on black canvas / 5x7 / unframed / $68 including shipping


THE RAVEN IS A STAR of Native American lore - here is a story published by Haida artist Bill Reid in 1984:

How Raven Brought Light to the World

At that time, the whole world was dark. Inky, pitchy, all-consuming dark, blacker than a thousand stormy winter midnights, blacker than anything anywhere has been since.

The reason for all this blackness has to do with the old man in the house by the river, who had a box, which contained a box, which contained a box, which contained an infinite number of boxes, each nestled in a box slightly larger than itself - until finally there was a box so small all it could contain was all the light in the universe.

The old man hides the box with the light because he's afraid to see whether his daughter is beautiful or ugly. In a ploy to steal the box, the raven shrinks himself to become a hemlock needle in a basket of water. The daughter swallows him, and soon, the raven is reborn from her as a raven/human child.

He begins to ask his grandfather to open the boxes, and the old man does, opening them one after the other after the other.

When he opens the box containing the light, the raven steals it and flies out of the house, causing light to spread throughout the world, and revealing the beauty of the old man's daughter.

As the raven flies away, the eagle tries to steal the light from him. The raven drops some, and in the story, this light becomes the moon and the stars.

For Today

"He painted until his cursive brushes were only whispers of rawness on the thin ivory. Only the walls and the ravens that watched knew the boy with the paint-stained palms 
weaved his art onto his sketchpad on the park bench at lunchtimes,
 and only the trees whispered it like a prayer." 

- Grace Curley, "The Light that Binds Us"

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Chickadee on Cherry Branch

Chickadee on Cherry Branch / oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 unframed


ON THE DRIVE out to Tubac, Arizona, where I am visiting my father and stepmother, I peeled an orange and tore my fingernail back a little from my finger. It hurt, especially because I got orange juice in the ripped place. 

I began thinking about fingernails, then, and wondering - if it hurt so much to have just a teeny tear between the nail and the skin, why doesn't it hurt when your nails grow? They grow from the bottom, not the top, so they must be ripping away from the skin all the time. 

The only answer I've been able to find is that it happens so slowly, it just doesn't register. Does anyone have a better answer than that? 

For Today

"If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint." 

- Edward Hopper

Monday, February 10, 2020


Owl / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / unframed / $68 including shipping


APPARENTLY, SOME PEOPLE don't know that you're not supposed to touch paintings. First of all, the older the painting, the more brittle. If you touched a Rembrandt, you'd most likely be arrested, but you also could chip off parts of the surface. 

Second, and more to the point (as we are talking MY paintings, which are neither old nor Rembrandts), your skin is covered with an acidic oil that keeps it flexible and healthy. But it damages paintings, and can't be wiped off without damaging the paintings more. 

And third, and even MORE to the point, some artists bring wet paintings to shows and hang them in the booth before they're dry. Yes, I am guilty of this, though I make every effort to hang those wet paintings in places that people can't reach. 

This owl painting, I made during the Tubac show. I put it on a box behind a screen at the very edge of the patio where I was showing my work. And some woman went all the way back there and picked it up, smearing the paint all over her fingers and along the edges of the painting. She didn't damage it, really (I can fix it), but she made me angry. 

So please, don't touch the paintings unless the artist invites you! 

For Today

There was an owl
who lived in an oak.
The more he heard,
the less he spoke. 
The less he spoke,
the more he heard.
We all should be
like that wise old bird. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Blue-footed Booby

Blue-footed Booby / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / unframed / $68 including shipping


THE BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY is, yes, another of the birds whose name turns me into a giggling 8-year-old.

It's also a fascinating bird, with a mesmerizing mating dance. Click here to see it. 

For those who don't know much about this bird (like me), here are some basic facts. They live off the western coast of Central and South America; about half the world's population lives in the Galapagos Islands.

They nest on land at night, and spend their days searching for food in the ocean. Sometimes they hunt in cooperative groups. When they see their prey, they fold their wings back and plunge into the water from as high as 80 feet, according to National Geographic.

As far as mating goes, the bluer the male's feet, the more attractive he is. Isn't that universally true?

For Today

"Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her. 
Still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings." 

- Victor Hugo

Thursday, February 6, 2020


Hummer / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / unframed / $68


HERE ARE SOME COOL hummingbird facts: 

  • There are more than 350 species of hummers, all in North and South America. Two species have gone extinct since hummers were recognized, in the 19th century
  • The average hummer weighs about 4 grams, or 0.14 ounce. The smallest hummingbird is the bee hummingbird, which weighs about 2 grams. 
  • Hummingbirds flap their wings generally 50-80 beats per second, though some flap as slowly as 12 times per second, and some as fast as 200 times, when they are diving. 
  • They live three to five years on average in the wild, though some have been known to live 12 years or more. One in captivity lived to be 14. 
  • They need to consume about half their body weight every day. They would starve overnight if they slept the way other birds do; they go into a state called "torpor," which is sort of like a short hibernation. 

You can find these facts and more at Discover Wildlife. com -


For Today

"I would rather die of passion than of boredom." 

- Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Little Bluebird

Little Bluebird / Oil on black canvas / unframed / 4x4 / $38 including shipping


THE SHOW IN TUBAC, AZ starts in a few hours, and I am still setting up on the patio at Sweet Poppy, so I will leave this little bluebird to sing his song to you alone! 

For Today

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, 
but their inward significance." 

- Aristotle

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Flight 2

Flight 2 / Oil on canvas / 5x7 / unframed / $68

I WITNESSED ONE of the world's amazing sights on Monday, watching maybe 200 Sand Hill cranes and 2,000 snow geese lift off from a shallow pond at Bosque del Apache wildlife preserve, in San Antonio, NM. 

This is a world-renowned birding area, and the cranes and snow geese are some of the most treasured visitors. People who know about such things told me that I might or might not see any cranes - that was what I was hoping to see - as it was near the end of the migration. No one mentioned the chance to see snow geese. 

I've seen huge flocks of snow geese on the Eastern Shore, but have never been so close, and have never seen or heard them lift off. The sound is utterly amazing - LOUD! And unlike anything I've ever heard. The beating of thousands of wings - it's a dry sound, with a locomotive-like churning beat. And it is also amazing that the birds don't damage each other with all their wings. 

The cranes were magnificent. They sleep standing up, in shallow ponds like this one, so that if a predator approaches, he will have to splash through the water, alerting them. They sleep with their heads under their wings, and leave a few cranes at the edges as sentries. 

When they left, it wasn't in the huge cloud of birds like the geese, but in pairs and small groups. They run a little through the shallow water, making a high-pitched keening sound, and then lift into the air, changing from huge, gawky creatures into lovely, elegant flyers. 

It felt like a miracle. 

 Above, Sand Hill cranes, Below, snow geese

For Today

For anyone living on or near the Eastern Shore,  or wanting to visit, an Antares rocket is scheduled to go into space on Feb. 9, from Wallops Island. If you can get to the visitor center to see the launch, it's really fun. Click the link below for more information. 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Another Runner

Another Runner / oil on black canvas / 5x7 / unframed / $68 including shipping

THE TUBAC SHOW starts on Wednesday, and while I am showing my art during the show, I am not actually IN it. I will be on the patio of Sweet Poppy, a lovely and very fun shop that sells some art, including mine. Marsha, who owns the store, invited me to set up there when she heard about Peter's death. She thought it would be easier, and different, and that I'd still sell well. 

We will see about the third part - it is always a gamble, no matter where you are - but the first two already are true. 

I was surprised, however, at how sad I felt when I saw the big banner for the show and realized I wouldn't be in it, in the hubbub, the chaos, the bright and loud and crowded community of artists that is any show. Even now, writing this, it makes me a little sad. 

But this is my year to try new things, to simplify - and, I guess, to be sad - or at least to feel, and feel deeply. At least from time to time. 

For Today

"Art is like therapy; what comes up is what comes up. It may be dark, but that's what comes up. You may want to keep some of it in a drawer... but never judge it." 

- Nick Bantock

Sunday, February 2, 2020


Heron / 5x7 / Oil on canvas / unframed / $68 including shipping

THE HERON GLIDES, even ascending, it seems, even while pushing its wings, it glides, still as night falling. It speaks to me of dark, quiet corners. Of memory. Of a time before history, when silence was a monumental asset. 

In small water, even - the creek by the side of the road - the heron stands and stalks and catches, then rises on its huge wings, successful - showing me that victories need not be large, nor beauty proscribed. 

For Today

I'VE MADE IT to Arizona, and Dad and I went out the other day to see the Javelinas de Tubac exhibit, which is all over town. 

Javelinas are a kind of wild pig that's found in the southwest. I've seen many of them in Tubac, sometimes with their babies, which are adorable. The grown javelinas are nor quite as cute, and can be real pests, digging up gardens, rooting around on property, etc. 

The Chamber of Commerce and the Tubac Center of the Arts had a local artist make maybe two dozen blank javelina statues, then invited Tubac artists to paint them. The statues are located all over town. They are all for sale, and money raised from the sales supports the Chamber and the arts center. 

Here's a short article on the project (to read it you will have to answer some questions, sorry), and here is a photo of Dad and me by one of the javelinas.