My daughter recently reported seeing a bird on the patio that looked as if he had stuck his head in a Cheetos bag. I thought maybe a goldfinch had dropped by to tease the cats. But then, a few days ago I saw a photo by Christine Paige on FB of a bird she labeled as an Oriole, did a bit of research, and was amazed to learn that Yes! Orioles do show up in San Diego!
It seemed like serendipity had a hand in all this because I’ve been taking an online class from John Muir Law via Audubon about drawing birds. Christine was kind enough to give her permission for me to use her photo as a model, et voila: Mr. Cheetohead. A bird this colorful sends my brain into overdrive, I must admit – too many variables to capture without getting fussy. His hairdo looks a bit like a Victorian dandy, parted in the middle, with that silly little Van Dyke beard beneath his beak, which clearly was not a beak intended for drinking nectar from a hummingbird feeder but apparently that happens a lot. And in this picture, I couldn’t figure out what to do to suggest a tree in the background, and the feeder is a completely different drawing style than the bird and/or the background. But, variables be damned, here he is in all his orangey yellowy glory.
…speaking of orangey yellowy: It sounds a bit like I’m fiddling while Rome burns, focusing on avian beauty while the country and much of the world writhes in agony… But au contraire. Painting and drawing helps me focus. I give a lot of thought to the issues with each mark I make. And I conclude that too many variables confuse and overwhelm us all. COVID19 is the Big Invisible Variable, but so far we have no way to remove it. However here is my suggestion for shrinking the number of remaining variables: remove the current US president from office. He is the Big Visible Variable. Predicting what he will do next is like predicting the trajectory of a squirrel. A squirrel on meth. A squirrel on meth dragging an AK-47. Unlike the virus, there is a way to remove him. So in between paintings and webinars, I contact my representatives and senators, and express my views and values, over and over. I encourage everyone to do the same – we’ve only got a few short months before November. And above all else that you do in the next few weeks and months, be sure you vote in this election.
Sketches and Links
I’ve also done these drawings for the class:
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.