Above: Pigeon study in my 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia in-studio journal. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen with Schmincke and M. Graham Gouache.
The day after I finished this study, which I find quite cheery, I sent it via email to one of my friends who also happens to be a painter. She'd just had surgery and I thought it might cheer her up.
My bad. I totally spaced on the fact that she is scared of birds. Let me say in my defense that this is the woman who never balks at pulling over at the side of the road to check out birds or stop at zoo exhibits of birds. She even took me to an isolated farm where a legendary goose lived (who then proceeded to peck and peck at her feet, and believe me you don't want a goose pecking at your feet in a territorial manner!).
I love birds so much—all birds, not just the small, fluffy cute ones but also the raptors and scavengers who rip into the world to help it process—that I have trouble imagining the difficulty others might have with birds. (I think Hitchcock's "The Birds" is silly and the people are being hysterical.)
My own father after a tortuous adventure as a toddler in a chicken coop is not fond of birds, but he allowed me to have a budgie when we lived in Australia (despite the fact that we were both allergic). It seems people around me have been enabling my love of birds my whole life, often at no small cost to themselves.
I endeavor to be a considerate person. It seems however that when it comes to birds I fail time and time again. I don't ask people to sit with me while I sketch and obsess over pigeons while on a visit to a new city, but now that I think about it, they often do sit with me, but they sketch the buildings. They speak companionably with me, in short, they indulge me.
I like to think that there is tit for tat. When they want to stop and sketch (or photograph) a building there is always a pigeon nearby for me to sketch.
But then I'm not afraid of buildings am I?
My point today is I can't promise that my love of birds won't block my sense of courtesy in the future; but I will focus anew on the concept that birds aren't everyone's cup of tea (Dick on why people don't buy my large, large bird paintings: Not everyone can live face to face with a dinosaur 500 times life size). I'm still going to paint birds (even large versions). I'm still going to stop to sketch random birds. I'm still going to travel to destinations for the sole purpose of encountering a bird.
I am also going to make sure that everyone in my life knows how grateful I am that they indulge me in this love. It's not as if I read road signs aloud while we're confined together in the car on lengthy road trips…
Wait, I do that too.
Let's just say I have the most tolerant and indulgent of friends, and I'm grateful every day.
And my convalescent friend when she saw this pigeon, what did she say? "I love it. I'd duck for cover if a pigeon flew at me, but I love the look in its eye. Send me more."
That's a great friend—the kind who also stops for road kill when we're on a road trip.