Friday, September 4, 2009

The Lone Crow, or Two





IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
----- from Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by Wallace Stevens

Loud. Noisy. Arrogant. Aggressive. People either love or hate the crow. Messenger. Mystery.
Symbol. Harbinger. Over the centuries, the crow has garnered a bad reputation. They have become a symbol of death or disease. Misunderstood. Myths. The sounds of smaller birds, with their tweets and chirps, sound melodic, soothing. The crows, with their loud "caw, caws" pierce the air. Even their color black can be harsh, a loud note on the snow, or grey pavement. I don't like the gang of crows. I prefer the lone crow, sitting on a branch of a leafless tree. The tree branches form calligraphy marks and the crow becomes a large black calligraphy note. Solitary. Quiet. Alone. I have always been drawn to bare, leafless trees. Or an empty chair at the end of a quiet path. Or a solitary bird on a branch or wire. I like contrast in my paintings. The black bird against the white sky, sitting on taupe branches---three of my favorite colors.
For those bird lovers out there, I know there are differences between crows and ravens, but for me, they are big, black shapes--the focal point on my canvas. There is a need for mindfulness as we go about our daily life in our urban wilderness. I look for textures, calligraphy, contrast.
What do you look for?


Ravensong, a Natural and Fabulous History of Ravens and Crows by Catherine Feher-Elston and illustrated by Lawrence Ormsby. This book is about the spiritual aspects of these birds along with myths and history. The illustrations are beautiful. You can find out more about the book here.

30 comments:

nancy neva gagliano said...

adore wallace stevens work, especially the blackbirds you quoted from....thanks. a favorite symbol for me.....and thanks for the visit. i love bare trees as well, and this one will be that way very soon. with a huge splash of color coming EVEN SOOOOOONER!!
all the best!neva oh, and many blackbirds love this tree too.

Kim Hambric said...

I think these pieces are wonderful. Great depth and balance.

I have always been a fan of the crow. Except when they decide to dig through my neighbor's garbage on a windy day.

Kim Hambric said...

These pieces are wonderful. Great balance and depth.

I have always been a fan of the crow myself. Except when they dig through my neighbor's garbage on a windy day.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Your assemblage! So interesting! And your studio view, and the crows…so much to enjoy when I come here for a visit. I’ve never tried assemblage….I think I find the “things” I collect too dear, so I just keep saving them…Perhaps it is time to be bold, as you say.

layers said...

The items in this assemblage were very special finds--- this one hangs on MY wall. When you find special objects that you want to keep make the assemblage for yourself.

Egmont van Dyck said...

I love trees! I have been gathering the seeds each late winter of the California Chestnut tree and have raised them, given away to friends and of course planted in my garden.

The trees beauty comes lies in the silvery grey colour of its trunk and branches after the leaves have fallen, which occurs early on mid summer, when in the heat the leaves shrivel and shortly afterwards fall of.

As for the crow, in some countries their arrival signals the beginning of fall and though they appear black, there is a little cast of midnight blue to their wing feathers.

Now to your beautiful art and especially the assemblage, all of which reflects your personal journey and who you are.

The use of minimal text and typography in general reflect your mythology and the symbols are just another pea or cookie crumb on the path that you have left and we willingly follow.

Thank you for sharing . . .

layers said...

Egmont, even your comments are poetic and beautiful. thank you

oneartistjournal said...

Donna...What I look for I find here...YOUR crow is beautiful...You'd probably agree that there are some 'things' that we can only experience in the way of our visual language...there are experiences that do not reside in words...this is what I am looking for and I find it here to devour...brilliancy.

alteredbits said...

i adore crows and ravens. we have many where i live and i love to sit on the front porch and watch them drop the walnuts they've gathered from our tree and drop them from the powerlines to crack them open. they are such an amazingly smart bird. i've always wished to find a baby to keep it as a pet.

i adore the work you've posted! (of course you already knew that i fell in love at first sight with the first.) both are amazing!

ArtPropelled said...

Aah ... sighing and smiling ...your post hits the spot again. I love your comment about making an assemblage for yourself with special objects. Your assemblage is indeed special .... sacred. Love the painting ... a lot.

linda said...

j'aime vos collages.. vos textures.. votre imaginaire

[i don't speak english very well.. i use reverso]

i like your collages.. your textures.. your imagination

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Another beautiful and thoughtful post. We have several crows nesting in a large redwood tree and I like hearing them caw in early evening as they gather for sleep.
Your assemblage is quietly powerful
and what a view from your studio!

elizabeth said...

The view from your studio is extraordinary! I imagine it contributes to the beauty in your work.

Ruth Armitage said...

I look for colors and symbols for deeper experiences... and as you know, birds of all types have always enthralled me and have become personal symbols. Neat post and beautiful work dear friend!

Seth said...

Both of these pieces are exceptional. There is so much detail to be found and the design of each really brings you in. Crows in art have also always been a draw for me.

Liza said...

I prefer the lone crow as well. I love the Bowfinger quote, and the view from your studio.
Your work is incredible!
I noticed that your assemblage includes the symbol for infinity. I love that!
Thank you so much for sharing.

layers said...

I apologize to everyone because my book link at the end of this crow post is not a good link... I will try to correct it.

Kerin said...

Hi Donna! You are so right we are definitely in tune having both paid homage to a beloved solitary raven. I love the other pieces you posted also. : )

jgy said...

Intriguing finds!
I like your musings about the crow. I also recently have been seeing the poetry in crows in my urban environment. I wrote my first crow poem this spring!
About playing a game outside, surrounded by the caws of crows. It's an intense feeling to be surrounded by that sound in a quiet park...

Sandi said...

Donna, I love to use recognizable imagery as symbolic imagery in my paintings. Looking for an icon for family, I found that the crow represented all the traits that I was looking for, love of family, humor, longevity, and respect. I use the crow as a recognizable image, but rarely paint the crow with detail; a mark or a simple shape can read as the crow. Color is used arbitrarily, and I often use only line or a single shape repeated to denote the mark or the calligraphy movement of the brush. I too, have found that the crow is often misrepresented as a symbol of death. My hot pink crows with the white dress shapes have reverse the notion of death to one of whimsical. It’s all in the way you tell your story.

John said...

Ravens are wildness - they have large dagger bill that could hurt us or go throught trhe hide of a dead frozen moose.

In the east, rwevwensd ahve niot tolertated civilizationa dn no longer are found where there are TV antenas or traffic lights. In maine and in the back Adirondacks.

I have never seen one in the east.

Crows accept man and throve in theior shaddow. Farms and garbabge dumps...

Both are smart and corws have been proven able to count tsince they wil call and call until all in a group have gathered.

Wonderful painting - it exudes man and wild and dark and light.

Your mixed work is also magical - I feel flight and wind.

Amazing about your eagles....my best.

Lisa said...

I love your unique assemblage...so elegant in its simplicity. What an amazing find the shrine must have been! Your painting is gorgeous...love the palette and the symbolism.

Crystal said...

I love these pieces and that you are both a painter/collage artist and love assemblage. I can't seem to stick to one or the other, but have so many special objects and ideas that I have to work in both. I know what you mean about making something with special meaning for yourself. Sometimes I will do this and hang a piece in my own home and just soak it in and enjoy it for a time. Then one day I will walk by it and just know that it is time to let it go. Whatever message or meaning it held for me has been absorbed and now somebody else needs it. I love this cycle that life brings. Always flowing, moving, learning.
Thanks for the depth in your work and your words. There is always food for a hungry soul here!
Crystal

Kelly Marszycki said...

Donna -- wonderful assemblage -- of course the sumi brush was perfect. I've worked with that particular type and it gives marvelous marks! Crows are amazing -- I've watched their "military maneuvers" when the hawks come round in the spring -- fiercely protective and fearless is the chase. PS -- I like your new soft blue look, too!

among found objects said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I was able to just browse yours a little and I already love what I have seen. I cant wait to dedicate more time to reading and looking at the marvels you have created.

Jo Horswill said...

Another beautiful post and what timing. I have just got back from a trip away where I collected a few bits of treasure.
Had been thinking that I would like to create an assemblage piece in dedication to what I found there. Thanks Donna.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

I knew when I saw the word nest on your list of likes that I had to visit! I am so glad I did. Love this crow post and your assemblage. Awesome! I will have to come back and explore some more later:)

Jo Archer said...

Donna, The Lone Crow is just beautiful. I have to keep going back to look at it! Why is it we all seem to be fascinated by the crow and the blackbird? My own blog is called The Crow Road which is from an old Scottish saying. If someone is "away the Crow Road", it means they have died.

disa said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.

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