Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Sea Turtles

It has been such a joy to watch the hummingbirds that have come to my feeders this summer.  Those that live in northern breeding territories in Canada and the northern USA began their migration journey's in July, progressing southward approximately 18 miles per day.  In the southeastern USA where I live, in Tennessee, our birds have begun migration as well, the males departing earliest, leaving females with late fledglings and vigilant juveniles guarding nectar sources.  
All this activity has been an incredible thing to watch.  The more time I spend sitting near the feeders, the more I understand the necessity of all that chirping and diving and chasing that takes place.  In a few hours of observation, I may see a male define his territory with an incredible high-speed dive, a tentative fledgling at the feeder with his 'baby' gape still apparent, and two juveniles sparing in spiraling flight so ferociously that they both land on the ground.  The juxtaposition of so many aspects of their lives unfolding in front of me gives me deep pause.
And while I sketch these juveniles, internalizing every feather, the shape of their beaks, the position of their wings, their expression, I feel more and more connected to them, more and more hopeful that they will each survive their migration journey.  My art inspires my love for what I'm painting, just as surely as the nature I encounter inspires my art.
I experimented with salt in this painting, sprinkling a little too much, in my opinion, in a couple of places to suggest the sparkling of light in the trees.  While I waited for the paint to dry, I sketched a loggerhead sea turtle.  This was my first sketch of a turtle of any kind.  And as my pencil gave it shape, I fell in love with it all over again, bringing it even deeper into my heart, if that's possible.
Standing on a dark beach in the light of a full moon with the sound of the surf breaking while watching a sea turtle lay her eggs was quite enough to fortify my love for these giant marvels forever.  And while I'm sketching, I internalize what I know about them even more, see more deeply, and feel more deeply.  Painting is a meditation of sorts, and during that meditation I am one with this turtle, enjoying her beauty, the shape of her head, the sheer size of her body, those deep ancient eyes.  Every aspect of what I see and feel about her moves through me and forms the image I create on paper.
And when I paint hummingbirds, I'm one with their high-speed world, filled with a fledgling's uncertainty and mindful of the power and speed of that mature male.  I marvel at what they show me and how nature has put it all together.  Art and nature, nature and art.  They make my world a richer place.

Visit Ruby-throated Hummingbird Migration and Delightful Fledglings to see more images and stories of the hummingbirds in my life.  And more about sea turtles and sketching coming up.

3 comments:

  1. what a lovely surprise to read your post, it must be wonderful to observe these beautiful birds.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful paintings, sketches, and story!! Thank you! John

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bravissima!!! Molto belli i colibrì sia in foto che in acquerello.
    Complimenti
    Bruna

    ReplyDelete

Welcome! I am glad to hear your comments, questions and feedback! Vickie

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