Sunday, April 25, 2010

Drawing Nature with Nature

As I mentioned a few days ago, the painter Audubon used the feathery tip of the pawpaw twig as a brush for his paintings of birds.  We had to try it...
Eliza chose to paint feathers.  We decided Audubon had an amazingly steady hand.
Ani took the painting nature with nature five steps further - first, her tip broke off right away, but instead of getting frustrated she was easily convinced to paint with the twig.  She outlined her shell...
painted a hickory nut shell
then had to see if it would float in the watercolor water
then fingers got in the is her feather
...and then mine.  We also printed using those beautiful triangular blossoms.
:: :: :: ::
We realized that a book that Ani had pulled down from the shelf to look at earlier had an Audubon painting of snowy owls on its cover (she realized it, after I showed the girls some of his work online).  It was Owls and Other Fantasies by Mary Oliver, so naturally we had to have a read...

Such Singing in the Wild Branches

It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves—
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness—
and that's when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree—
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing—
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky— all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn't last

for more than a few moments.
It's one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you've been there,
you're there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then— open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.


alissa said...

nice. love the new header, too!

Kerry said...

I'm glad you tried this, because I've been wondering. Love those feathers, and of course the poem. And Alissa is right: the header is awesome!!

kimmy said...

That's wonderful! We love the paw paws and I photographed the flowers here a few weeks ago. Perhaps they'll make it to my blog someday when I revive it:)

Cheryl said...

I love the effect of using the paw paw twig to paint the feathers. You have inspired me to look around and see what paint brushes nature has provided for us. Paw paws are a bit thin on the ground around here!

Thanks for sharing.