Draw a Bird Day: Corvus Hawaiiensis

Celebrating Laura’s (Create Art Everyday) Draw a Bird Day, (every 8th day of the month), with a poem and watercolor sketch of the Hawaiian Crow, (‘Alala or Corvus Hawaiiensis).  Working in a sketchbook not really meant for the use of water, the items used were pencil, Ultramarine blue (M. Graham) and Quinacridone burnt scarlet (Daniel Smith) watercolor.

Hawaiian Crow

Before the last pair disappeared from the wilds, conservationists began a captive breeding program with the goal to prevent extinction and eventually reintroduce birds back into their former habitats.  The story is far from over, the program continues and there is growing hope that one day the distinctive call of the Hawaiian crow will again be heard in the forest wilds.

Rain Song

The rains announced their arrival by softly tapping on the metal awnings over the windows, like a tentative start to a song, one note at a time. Our mountains had dressed for the occasion with gray clouds looking like misty chiffon draped across their rocky shoulders.

We have a saying in the islands, “When the Heavens weep, the Earth lives.” Imagination lives too. With these cooler gray filled days, the melody of rain song and watching as the ocean breezes blow sheets of rain into undulating shapes that dance across the yard, my imagination begins its own dance with ideas.

Watercolor beginning

Watercolor beginning

One idea comes from the sense of place, here, in the islands, where nature’s creative journey is constant, punctuated by storm warnings, lava flows, and the occasional Tsunami alert. I begin my own creative journey exploring the idea of place, with watercolor, but after a few brush strokes it becomes apparent that the air is full of moisture, causing the paper to dry slowly, almost reluctantly. This calls for a plan B, (there should always be one), bring in acrylics.

While waiting for paint to dry between the applications of watercolor layers, I sort through carved linoleum tiles to be used later with the acrylics. Having a theme, or a story, (every painting has a story even if it is only in my head), helps me choose patterns and determine whether I need to carve any new tiles.

Acrylic step 1

Acrylic step 1

When the watercolor portion has completely dried, my next step is to apply a layer of matte medium. This is the most nerve wracking part as I have to be careful not to disturb or lift the transparent watercolor beneath. After a few deep breaths and keeping my fingers crossed, the painting is set aside over-night to dry.

Acrylic step 2

Acrylic step 2

With the morning comes a new melody. The rains have introduced sporadic percussive rhythms, charged with energy, heavier and faster with a few pauses as though between musical sets. My painting has dried so I put away my watercolor brushes and reach for the acrylics.

Acrylic step 3

Acrylic step 3

First, a stroke of acrylic color, next a flurry of activity involving scraping, lifting, spritzing of alcohol, more paint, more lifting, (this time with a linoleum tile leaving a design impression in its wake), and maybe some added scrubbing and scratching with an old plastic hair curler. Working in small sections because the paint dries faster and is permanent, this process, this dance, is repeated over and over.

Like the rain, there is a sporadic rhythm with a few pauses to let the paint dry, to take a step back and see where this journey is heading. Eventually I come to that point where I need to take a longer step back, so off I go to make myself a cup of tea and enjoy the music of a rainy day.

By the time I return to the painting with a fresh eye and make a few finishing adjustments, the night has gathered and the rain has faded away.  Tomorrow will begin a new painting, continuing the creative journey where ideas are like rain puddles waiting to be splashed in, tonight the brushes are stilled, and the only sounds left are the measured drips of water off the leaves and a cricket singing its lullaby into the darkness.

Life Waters

Life Waters