For the assemblage above, I found the Japanese wooden shrine at an antique store in Portland OR. The crow skull is a replica I found at EVOLUTION STORE, Soho, NYC. I added a sumi brush, Asian coin, bird's nest and eggs.
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.