For my 30th day’s painting I reverted to a subject I’ve painted in the past. Painting bluebirds was one of my first commissions. I remember fondly that both my Aunt Meg and my Grandmother Ruth asked me to paint them bluebird paintings. It was especially significant because both were near the end of their lives when they requested these images. Now I think of them as a sort of spirit guide, which actually means I pay close attention when one crosses my path. For the rest of the world, in many many cultures, they may represent the ‘bluebird of happiness,‘ but for me they symbolize stripping away the trappings of life and getting down to what really matters. I think its interesting that in at least one European myth (The Blue Bird) with the bluebird at its center the moral of the story is “…that the search for happiness is ongoing, and it is to be found within oneself.”
Bluebirds have always been symbolically significant to my family and others, but they are also an environmental success story. Between the 1930s and the 1980’s the population of bluebirds in the US had declined by 90%. They were truly endangered. By the time I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s in southwestern Wisconsin, bluebirds were rare. Pesticides contaminated their invertebrate foods, and nesting cavities were in short supply. Sighting a bluebird was a rare treat that took on mythic proportions in my family. Bluebirds have come to symbolize all things good and beautiful.
Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW) When BRAW was organized in 1986, it was estimated that the Eastern Bluebird population in its historic range had declined by 90% during the preceding 50 years due to changes in agriculture practices, competition from the House (English) Sparrow and European Starling, severe weather in its central and southern winter range, and the loss of nest sites, such as tree cavities and hollow wooden fence posts. Today, bluebirds are common in suitable habitat thanks to the work of citizen volunteers placing bluebird nesting boxes in the right places and working to protect their habitat. It makes me hopeful so I paint bluebirds of happiness and give them plenty to eat.
Nikki and I communicate periodically even when we are not engaged in a creative project like this. We like to check in on each others’ lives and art making, sharing opportunities and interesting resources.
We occasionally exchange TED videos lectures that catch our attention. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since that time the field have broadened. The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Edinburgh, bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). If you haven’t checked them out its well worth your time to do so.
One of my all time favorites Ted thinkers is by Sir Kenneth Robinson. You can check out his lecture here: http://blog.ted.com/2008/06/20/whats_the_best/
Another video I shared with Nikki was this TEDx lecture by Bryan Franklin. ( TEDx, in the spirit of ‘ideas worth spreading,’ is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.) Nikki had a different reaction to it than I did. She did this great process painting to express the issues, ideas, and concerns raised by the perspectives he shares.
Here is another view of Nikki’s painting. Its painted on a canvas specially treated to accept watercolor.
Sometimes the process of making is more or just as important as the end product. While art making isn’t therapy , it can be therapeutic. For me art making can be a form of meditation or a place to explore feelings and ideas without worrying about end products. Restricting yourself to creating art works that are exclusively created with the idea of appealing to an imagined market or buyer can keep you from enjoying the wonderful, freeing expressive potential of the art experience.
This 33 Paintings in 33 Days Project has been wonderful at immersing us in the creative process and helping us avoid over thinking our work (always something to be avoided at least until the work is done and we are making decisions about what to do in making the next piece of art).
We are enjoying this experience of creative exchange and all the expressive potential its bringing us. Thank you for joining as we reflect on our creative process and friendship!
I am making my daily works for this project available for sale online in my Meylah shop here: http://meylah.com/HelenKlebesadel I post them each day after they are posted in the blog.