Monday, July 1, 2013

Studying birds...more than flight and feathers

Lately, I have been becoming more interested in learning the various symbols of the birds I love and paint. Not surprisingly, each species has their own unique symbolisms that sometimes mean the opposite of another culture. One of the most fascinating myths I have found recently is of herons. This graceful water bird is generally a good omen and can be the representation of souls. In the Christian faith, it can stand as the symbol of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. They signify independent individuals and a deep awareness of self and as well as others. It's classical pose often defines contemplation, vigilance, and a spiritual inner quiet. If you are familiar with the sight of herons, it is easy to understand why these birds reflect such wisdom and attentiveness.   

Last fall, I was riding my bike home late at night and had stopped to look at the pond near my house. I love the way light hits the water at night. While staring into the darkness, I thought my eyes were making up images in the water. Was that a ghost or a heron on the water? This Great Blue Heron had blended in so well to the water that the whole atmosphere became surreal. It seemed to be one with the darkness, standing a silent guard to something precious. I had to paint it:

Night Sentry, watercolor on paper