mountain blue

A drive through back roads led us through fields of open range ranch in calf season, sightings of eagle, and redtailed hawk soaring and surveying. A few grazing deer still thin and shaggy in winter attire, a magpie medley and the coveted bits of mountain blue. These ones always feel as though they are not quite real to me, so tiny and brilliantly colored pieces of the sky at arms length and when the sun touches their feathers they almost seem fluorescent. It was their beauty that almost lost them to hat makers in the early 1900s but the placement of bird boxes and mandated protection is becoming quite successful.

I recognize the tropics are full of much brighter and varied feathers, here amidst the sage and pine. the contrast I suppose is what stands out so strikingly. And there I guess is the painters story intertwined with a love of nature, seeing what we strive to create as it flows without effort all around us. I have heard some amazing painters express feelings of disappointment when they are introduced as artists and naturalists, or, god forbid, the naturalist taking first billing. I think it would be an honor to be recognized as someone who truly sees and embraces the amazing wonder of the world before them. Someone who finds a way to be an unobtrusive part of a larger picture and in so doing is afforded a more intimate view.

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So distracted was I by the flashy feathers of the male. I barely noted the more subtly hued, and quietly sitting female until she sang her sweet song. It takes time to see.  Georgia O’Keeffe stated,  Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.   If you make friends with the natural world and carry it back to your studio through memory, notes, sketches and photographs, you must learn to practice patience.  If some days, you are not privy to the flutter of wings, or the passing by of the four leggeds, you are still in the temple of life. Breathe deeply, exhale gratitude, repeat.


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