My friend, Amber Puckett, has a beautiful Military Macaw, Chulla, in her flock. As a responsible flock member, Amber is very concerned for the wild Military Macaws in Mexico. She has connected with an organization who works with the Macaws, trying to repopulate their declining numbers. They have a hard time raising operating funds, so Amber would like to ask us to help this beautiful species. This next painting will be donated to Amber’s Military Macaw Organization. Amber has graciously consented to be a guest blogger, to explain the situation and tell us about the organization. Once this painting is dome, we will raffle it off through Chirping Central to do what we can to help. Amber is planning to make a trip there next year, so maybe when she returns, she will do another guest blog to tell us how the struggle is going for these birds. Remember, “Extinction is an option”. If we as human beings take on our stewardship of the earth seriously, we must try to help however we can. I can’t slog around in the jungle, guarding nests, but I can donate my time and talents to those who can. Please join me for another walk on the “WILD” side.
Here is the work so far.
Charcoal dust – that is. It is time to step away from the Great Blue Heron Drawing!
Dust is on my mind today…….charcoal dust, house dust, dust bunnies. Speaking of Dust bunnies…..why does everyone else have dust bunnies while I have dust kitties and dust birdies? When I sweep, I find enough cat hair to make a cat, and there are enough feathers to make another VERY large parrot. Don’t mind the charcoal dust, because it is lost in the dust kitties and dust parrots roaming the house. It is not like there is enough dust in Arizona anyway, LOL! Dusting is a futile exercise here. As soon as the house is dusted, you must go back and begin again. If the AZ dust hasn’t settled yet, one of the critters has shed hair or feathers, which combine with the dust to form dust critters that roam the house, insinuating themselves in every nook and cranny. Then they hide until you have finished dusting only to appear and stick their little dust tongues out at you. Na na nana naa na! It is time to start a watercolor, LOL, and get away from all of this dust for a little while. Aaaaaaaaaaachooooo! Achoooooooooooooo!
The last few months have ZOOMED by. Maybe it was being so busy that made it seem so. A new piece is started, but that is not the focus of the blog today. Just had to post a few photos of what has kept me so consumed over the last few months. The mat cutter is getting a rest, the packaging and labeling are all done, and the finished pieces are all framed, Audubon Gifts From nature….ready or not, here I come!
Audubon Show 3
Audubon Show 2
Audubon Show 1
The roadrunner is about done and so am I! Had to have a colonoscopy this week, and all that prep work has exhausted me. Glad it is over!! It is rough getting older – even though I am still only 49 again, LOL. As soon as this blog is done it is DEFINITELY nap time! Whew! How do you people over 50 do it! All those tests and Dr visits just to stay healthy. Well, as they say….it IS better than the alternative. Candy is catching up with me on her “Wooly Bear” painting, so I have to hurry and get this posted, wouldn’t have anything to tease her about if she finishes first, LOL! Hubby was extra nice and fed the velociraptors their breakfast this AM, so I could get some extra rest before being put to sleep for the procedure. They hear me typing, so think I will not see them making their way to my drawing table to start the chewing festival with my brushes and pencils. AHA! Caught you! OK, back to the play stands! What do you mean Dad did not give you enough nuts? Hey George, how many nuts did you give Loki? That many?!?!?! Hmmmmmmm………better get the scales out……someone may need to go on a little diet and exercise program. OK…parrots, line it up! let’s start with jumping jacks……hup…two….three……four. What do you mean you can’t do jumping jacks? Ok push ups……..hup…… two……jog around the room fifty times….no – JOG!…….Ok fly…….Camp Beenie in session…….out!
Almost done! Just a few more picky details to finish, but thought I would post before the busy week gets started! SO unless you guys come up with a GREAT title, guess this will be “Everywhere a Chick, Chick…..”. The lines are still open – get your chance to name a painting!!!
No WIP photo today, after visiting the Oasis Bird Sanctuary this weekend, I wanted to share a few thoughts. Many years ago Hubby and I listened to Anthony Robbins programs for motivation. One of the things that stayed with me is that change can be motivated by inspiration or desperation. As I looked at the beautiful facility that the Oasis has become and see where they are going, I saw inspiration from desperate circumstances. These birds come from many different types of situations, and their stories are usually sad at the beginning, but because of the dedication of this group of people, their stories become stories of hope. It brought back the reason that I am inspired to do my art. It is a gift given to me to help my beautiful feathered, furred, and scaled brothers and sisters. So I just wanted to share a little of my journey and hope to leave you with some motivation to go out and accomplish your dreams.
Flashback – First Grade…….I am standing in front of the room, my teacher has called me up to hold a coloring sheet in front of the class. She explains to the class how messy it is and that it is an example of how not to color. She calls up another student to stand by me holding up her coloring sheet and explains how neat it is, and what a good example it is of how to color. I went home mortified, and learned from this incident that I had no talent for art.
Flash forward ………..forty three years.My wonderful neighbor had given me a gift of a watercolor painting of my Blue and Gold Macaw, Loki. I am thanking her profusely, saying all of the things the untalented say…… This is beautiful, I cannot even draw a straight line, you are so talented, I could never do anything like this. Instead of saying “Thank you” for the compliment, my neighbor, Shirley Bennett, looked me in the eye and said, ” Arlene, you are one of the most creative people I know. DO NOT tell me you cannot do this. Go home right now and draw something and bring it back to me. So I do. It surprises both of us, not a masterpiece, but it has potential. Shirley insists that I should go out and take some drawing classes, so I sign up for a drawing class at Glendale Community College.
Now this sounds like the end of the story, but it almost became the beginning of no story. As you can see if you do the math, I was 49 years old. And if you think about it a little, you can imagine the doubt and self talk that went on. On the way to the first class, I almost talked myself out of going to class. “What am I doing, going back to school at this age? Everyone will be young and I will feel awkward, they will all have had classes and be good artists……..” As the doubts grew, I almost turned the car around and went home. Luckily momentum had the upper hand, traffic was heavy and I continued to class. Upon walking into the classroom, it was amazing. The students ranged from high school graduates to a 79 year old. Many of them were also beginners. And when the teacher, Darlene Goto, walked into the room, she said “I don’t know what talent is, all it takes is hard work and practice to draw…..this is a pencil. I knew I was in the right class.
The rest is history, inspiration from my own flock, the volunteer work at Liberty Wildlife, and organizations like Bird Endowment, the Oasis and The Alex Foundation have helped me develop Passion, Purpose and Power (as Carole Hillsbery says) in my painting. SO……… go………follow your dream………..the only thing holding you back is your self.
Candy says to step away from the painting, so it is done for now. As promised, I have a very special guest blogger, Mary Rose, from “Chirping Central”. For those of you who do not know Mary, all I can say is that she is a human dynamo. Instead of asking what she does, we have to ask what she does not do. She hails from Australia, is VERY involved with birds, bird organizations, and sits on several boards. She is the president of the Arizona Seedcrackers, is on the board of the Maricopa Audubon Society, and is involved in getting Tovari Castle open to the public. Her organization, Chirping Central” is all about the birds, what more can I say. Well, I could say a lot more, because this is only the tip of the iceberg, but………here she is!
I am excited to once again be working with Arlene to raise funds for one of the many endangered birds of the world. The Kakapo of course is one which has an amazing story and is semi close to home for me. It is a bird which at one time was thought to be extinct but which has had an amazing recovery due to the efforts of many dedicated people doing all they can to save the species. What is great about this project as well is the level of information which the project makes available to the public. After all if we did not know what was going on how could we help? It is through these communications that we are aware of achievements and setbacks and it is a vehicle for all of us to be able to contribute in some fashion. Whether you donate directly, participate in a raffle for original artwork by someone like Arlene, or simply engage in discussion about the issues it all helps the birds and I am proud to be part of the effort.
This piece of artwork is of course based on a photo taken when Barbara Heidenreich visited the project and it is wonderful that Barbara shares her photos to further the cause. I have been following the “Vanishing Species” blogs by Arlene, seeing the development of this piece of art at every stage and can hardly wait to see the final piece – which I am sure will be absolutely stunning. Arlene is an amazing artist and has the ability to capture the essence of the birds she paints. The lucky winner of this piece will be proud to hang the artwork on their wall.
So for me I am a true believer that extinction for many of these species is optional. Unfortunately most of the time decisions surrounding which birds to work with revolve around dollars and cents, but projects like Arlene’s help to get projects going and keep them going. It does not matter how large or small the contribution is – it all helps. How many “bird people” do you think are around the world? If everyone joins forces and contributes the impact can be huge – meaning that extinction truly is optional. We have the power to save the birds – we just have to care and be engaged. Personally I believe it is our ethical and moral responsibility.
This reminds me of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt from 1916 – “Birds should be saved for utilitarian reasons; and, moreover, they should be saved because of reasons unconnected with dollars and cents… The extermination of the Passenger Pigeon meant that mankind was just so much poorer…And to lose the chance to see frigate-birds soaring in circles above the storm, or a file of pelicans winging their way homeward across the crimson afterglow of the sunset, or a myriad of terns flashing in the bright light of midday as they hover in a shifting maze above the beach—why, the loss is like the loss of a gallery of the masterpieces of the artists of old time.”
I think this sums it up very well. While Theodore was not specifically referencing parrot species the principle is still the same. When we lose a species we are so much poorer. Don’t let the Kakapo become another Passenger Pigeon or Carolina Conure. We have the power to stop this process and this raffle is your chance to help the Kakapo – one of the many species in trouble. I encourage you to seek out information about the Kakapo at http://www.kakaporecovery.org.nz and on the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/KakapoRecovery. There is a wealth of information on these pages.
So once Arlene’s Kakapo piece is finished I will be getting tickets loaded on the Chirping Central Conservation Fund page for the raffle. I encourage everyone to buy tickets for your chance to own this amazing piece and also to help the birds. Every penny counts and all funds raised from this raffle will be going to the Kakapo. Thank you again to Arlene for producing this wonderful piece and allowing me to be part of the process.
As soon as Mary gets the website to me, I will post it here, on my website, on Facebook and wherever it can be posted! …..Oh you want to see the painting,LOL. BTW, comments are welcome!!! The more the merrier! Now where was that brush???? Sunny, come back here with my brush……..here we go again…….sigh……….
As a slave to five parrots and staff for two cats, it occurs to me that parrots and cats these days JUST have no respect! Looking back to my childhood days, (Stop ROTFL it was not THAT long ago!!!) we always had a cat and a dog around. Now the cats these days go wherever they please……..on my computer desk………on the counter…….on the kitchen table. They leave hair EVERYWHERE. The parrots throw food around, take one bite of something and throw the rest down, and leave feathers EVERYWHERE. But back in the day, you NEVER saw a cat on the counter or table. There were no parrots in the house then, but I am sure they would not have thrown food away, we were NEVER allowed to waste food (especially vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower). So as I sit here continually fighting cat hair and feathers…..all I can say is…..CATS and PARROTS these days…..no respect.
As you can see the painting is ALMOST done, just a few more leaf details and a few more washes and Candy will be saying “Step Away From the Painting!”
Was last night the bird full moon or something? My house was full of critters last night. AND not just the usual parrots who live here. It all started with a call from Margaret, my friendly local Liberty Wildlife Rescue and Transport volunteer. “Hi Arlene, we have a baby Harris Hawk here, would you mind dropping it off at Liberty Wildlife in the morning when you go in?” Of course, I forget to mention that I had volunteered to be the West side pick up station for the volunteers who cannot make the additional 45 minute trek from here to Liberty Wildlife. So most of the R&T volunteers have driven at least 45 minutes when they get here. HOWEVER, I rarely get more than one or two birds a week to triage and transport. LIKE I was saying, it must have been the BIRD equivalent of a full moon last night. By the time Margaret got here with the baby Harris Hawk, she had two more calls, and the baby was soon joined by a baby Morning Dove and a small Turtle. As she was leaving, she got another call about a Mallard, who soon joined the party! My fellow volunteers were SO happy to see me add to the flood of critters coming in through the check in window this morning,LOL. Needless to say, it was ‘hopping’ all morning. We would just about get one bird checked in and another one would show up. NOW don’t get me wrong, I LOVE baby birds, and Liberty Wildlife is JUST chock full of “Too cute for words”, but I wish the situations which happened to separate the babies from their parents DID NOT happen. But it does, so volunteers spend the spring and summer trying to help the lil cuties grow up into fierce big critters who can go back into the wild.
And with all of the bird madness going on right now, there is still an update on the current WIP! This painting is rapidly……OK, maybe not so rapidly, coming to a close. The leaves are taking a little bit of time, but don’t worry, it will be finished very soon! Then you will be able to hear from my next special guest blogger! Can’t leave you without a little bit of mystery!
Why do cats have to walk on your keyboard just when you are trying to write a blog? Why do cats recognize the person in the room who is deathly allergic to them and then rub allllllll over that person? Why do the parrots love to chew on my brushes when I am trying to paint? Why do they LOVE to scream when I am on the phone? What is up with them chewing all of my jewelry, and any sequins, beads, or shiny stuff on my shirts? REALLY, I love the critters, but HAVE to contemplate these issues. Sometimes I feel like the only person on the planet asking these types of questions………. then attend a bird event or an art event showing my bird paintings! It is east to spot the bird person! They see a painting, do a double take, then get a certain look on their face. It is a kind of smile, then the eyes roll, then a smile and a look of affection. As one bird person to another, YOU know the look! That starts the conversation. Christina Scherer and I had a booth at the Sunnyslope Art Walk this weekend, and we had quite a few of these conversations, which let us know that we are not the only crazy animal lovers on the planet! We heard stories of funny things birds say and do all evening. They are endlessly fascinating, and a great source of joy, even with all of the mess, destroyed clothing and ruined brushes and pencils!
So the painting of Sirocco is progressing, even with all of the work of putting an art booth together. It is nice to have more time to work this week, and hopefully you will see much more progress at the next session! Don’t forget, you can click on the photo and see a much larger version!!!! Back to the drawing…ooops…….painting board!!!!