Birds

Escape to Hickory Knob by Uschi Jeffcoat

Towards the end of May, I packed my watercolors, camera, a wonderful book and traveled to Hickory Knob State Park in South Carolina.

The South Carolina State Park system has an artist in residency program. This year I had the privilege of participating and it was delightful. It came at the perfect time of the year.

A time before summer schedules and projects begin. And a time when rest and respite is most welcome.

Our family world still revolves very much around an academic calendar. And the end of a semester is when we tend to catch our breaths. Our oldest had completed his first year of college and the youngest was completing his junior year. How did they get so old? So fast?

I was in the midst of some decision making. And well, Charles. He was simply t-i-r-e-d.

So this get-a-way to unplug, observe, learn, create and be inspired was soul filling.

We walked the trails during the mornings. And I took SO many pictures! Some of you may know I took an introductory class in botanical illustration in January. Paired with this book, I was reading at the time, I was on a nature and plant observation high! 

Many of our walks were not so quiet as they were laced with "informative mini lectures" based on the most recent chapter I finished.

During our stay we had a few memorable bird experiences. The pileated woodpeckers were active. One actually hit the window of our cabin, only stunning him for a moment. Long enough for me to capture a few images, though.

But perhaps most striking was the morning we came upon the hawk, which I chose to paint for the park.

We were so close to him and he didn't seem to mind at all. It was as if he was posing in this most majestic and photogenic manner. And the air was so still, quiet and serene.

A privileged moment.

Hickory Knob State Park, thank you for the oppurtunity.

What Colour's a Blackbird? by Uschi Jeffcoat

“Drawing makes you look at the world more closely. It helps you to see what you're looking at more clearly. Did you know that?"  

I said nothing. 

"What colour's a blackbird?" she said.

"Black" 

"Typical!” 


― David Almond, Skellig
 

This painting process is of a young European Blackbird.

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I've learned that sometimes the pale unseen tender layers beneath the surface are the most beautiful ones. 

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My 41 year old eyes needed to do the hard work to see. See what is truly there, not what my mind wanted to tell me was there. And let me say, this bird is so much much more than simply "black". 

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Later today I will take on painting the background on this 22" x 30" full watercolor sheet. It's daunting at the moment but I know doing the work IS good.

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So wherever your eyes are being challenged to see more clearly today, please do the work. It is good.