Abruptly, about nine months ago, I no longer wanted to rely on the distilled information in my reference photos or field guides; as an artist and as a birder, I wanted to try and understand birds more thoroughly. If possible, I wanted to look at them in both a more in-depth manner and in a manner more removed. I wanted extensive time in the field. I wanted to learn more about conservation efforts, and I wanted to be at the places that are working at it. I also wanted to see what those effing feathers looked like up close. To. Under. Stand. More. Finally, I longed to be able to throw all of that knowledge out of the window, and understand something greater, on an instinctive level. What a can of worms – the opening of a lifetime, the deepening of something already lifelong.
As in the case with most lines of inquiry, the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. New mysteries unfold endlessly out of situations you might have assumed would be solvable.
On a mundane note, I began making phone calls and sending emails, and, back in reality, I suddenly had places to visit, people to see, questions to ask, even an exhibit to put together. The support that I found as I put this hair-brained half-concept together was nothing short of astonishing. My first stop, prior to moving out of my apartment and hitting the road: the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY.
Next post: doing some freaking homework!!
Image above: Pieces of a Downy Woodpecker, ink, watercolor, and gouache, on paper, 12×7″.