I've always had birds around me, but I didn't realize that this was something unique about me until my Mother and her Mother, both life-long fans of literature, began to say "I hear the birds. Sula's home" whenever I visited.
It's a reference from the 1937 Toni Morrison novel Sula. In Sula, Ms. Morrison describes Sula as “Accompanied by a plague of robins, Sula came back to Medallion.” They weren't talking about me being evil or wicked, just that the birds seemed to favor and follow me, creating a loud chorus that started when I arrived and quieted when I left. I tried to argue otherwise, but the fact that the robins would dive bomb and attack nearly every member of my family who came out of the house each spring while nesting except for me certainly didn't help further my argument.
As much as I love flowers and painting them, people have said that I have a particular way of capturing the spirit and personality of birds in my paintings. I don't see flowers as unique "little people" that talk to me as most gardeners and horticulturists do. Birds, on the other hand, do have unique markings and personalities to me both as a bird species and as individual birds.
I painted this bird from a reference photo taken on one of my walks through a freshwater wetland area that's surrounded by oak-maple-hickory forest. I was walking along the trail this fall looking for something to photograph to paint later when this grayish-blue bird flew in and sat on a branch about 15 to 20 feet away from me.
Back in the studio, the connection I had with the bird, brief but powerful, comes back to me while I was painting it. That doesn't always happen with my flower paintings unless I'm looking at the live flower while painting it. Whatever you paint won't have that thing you can't put your finger on it without having a connection to the subject when you paint it.