MY BACKGROUND IN ART (AND BIRDING)
For as long as I can remember I have loved making art.
At home as a child, we had a dedicated “art table” between the kitchen and the family room. We had markers, crayons, colored paper, paints, you name it, and I was always sitting there making something. I’d watch Star Trek with my mom and doodle to my heart’s content.
So where do the birds come in?
I come from a family of birdwatchers. Or birders, if you want to use the lingo. My grandparents traveled the world together and forced us grandchildren to sit through slideshows (of literal slide film) showcasing tropical locations, wild orchids, birds, and my grandfather’s love of photography. They went to South America, Central America, Borneo and Africa and traveled into their 80s. Their passion for adventure and nature inspired me.
My aunt, uncle, and mom all caught the nature-loving, travel-loving, birdwatching bug. And they passed it down to me.
Any roadtrip we took was characterized by how many Red-Tailed Hawks we counted along the highway. Every time we passed a large body of water, my mom reminded me to “peel my eyes” and look for Osprey or Bald Eagles hunting for fish. As we drove through grasslands I pressed my face to the window in the hopes of seeing a pair of Sandhill Cranes.
It was like a never-ending scavenger hunt. I loved it.
HOW I BEGAN PAINTING BIRDS
Fast forward to college. I was tasked with writing an honors thesis so that I could complete an honors degree. I was not excited for this. I loved writing, but research papers were not my vibe. So I found a loophole. I was an art minor, and I approached my thesis committee with an idea.
“Can I paint my thesis?”
Surprisingly, they seemed into it. So I painted every species of bird I had ever seen. My “life list.”
It took hundreds of hours of work, but it was a lot of fun. In the end, I hosted a gallery show with 191 birds spanning the entire room. The paintings were tiny, about 3x3 inches, so people had to get up close and personal to see the details. My favorite part was the fact that each bird was unlabeled, so everyone was left guessing which birds were which.
“Is this a mallard?” a friend would ask. And I’d correct them if they were wrong. People kept guessing and trying to find birds they recognized. Which meant the project was a success: it made people curious about birds and wildlife. I wanted to create a similar experience to being out in nature. I wanted to recreate the moment when you see a cool bird and you have no idea what it is, but you are super curious and try to find out. I wanted to show people that by learning to recognize things and learn their names, you could learn to appreciate them more.
PRINTS AND POSTERS
Today I have about 100 of my favorite birds hanging in my office. I joke that I made the right decision with my thesis because I’ve been able to enjoy it every day for the last 9 years.
I’ve recently started painting and drawing new birds and making posters and prints! You can contact me if you are interested in buying a print or commissioning an original. You can also follow along on my art instagram for updates.