Bird's Eye View

watercolor condor, goose, piping plover and condor

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.” 
-Mary Oliver

As a child, I spent hours tromping in the Virginia woods adjacent to the Potomac River--oversized binoculars slung around my neck and my Audubon Society checklist tucked in my back pocket. I became a birder after my godfather, Edward Harte, a lifelong bird enthusiast and Audubon champion, gave me an Audubon membership and my first pair of binoculars. Bird sightings permeate my childhood memories: the orioles, the cardinals, the wrens, thrushes and vireos, and a rare osprey or two. It was the late seventies and early eighties, so the river was not as clean as it is today, and wildlife was much more scarce. But there were birds. Then, the dark side of teenage self-doubt took over, and I fretted that bird-watching was uncool. I pulled the hood of conformity over myself and tucked that passion away.

When I moved to Colorado many years later as a wife and mother, I started watching birds again. I am a clumsy birder and much of it now revolves around the bird feeder and the morning dog walk. But the thrill remains. I know my birding laid the foundation for being an artist. It made me more observant, and I developed patience (never my strong suit) as I was trying to catch the flash of color in the overstory. I learned about color and nuance and how the animal world wields hue and camouflage. I certainly underestimated these field skills at the time, but isn't that always the case? I will always be drawn to birds, particularly the most vulnerable ones. I wanted to raise awareness about their global avian decline and decided to paint an endangered bird series from a fine artist's perspective. Painting and researching each bird brought me back to my childhood birding days and to that baseline of joy and wonder.

This series of paintings has grown into a collaboration with The National Audubon Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. We designed a collection of goods to celebrate the joy they bring to our lives and remind us that we need to advocate for their survival.

hawk sitting at top of evergreen tree with mountains in background

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