I make a point of creating a themed piece every year in celebration of Linus waiting patiently out in the Pumpkin Patch. It’s funny; I never really cared about Peanuts when I was growing up. I always read Garfield or the Far Side, but I’d skip right over Charlie Brown when I had a moment to look at the comics section of the newspaper. It wasn’t until I was much older that I started appreciating and enjoying what Mr. Schulz was doing.
I’ve been working at the problem of creating an illustration for a bird. It can be any bird, not even one that actually exists, but I want it to be my bird. This can be very difficult to achieve, because even a cursory search quickly reveals that there are a multitude of birds in the illustrated world, covering the gamut of sizes, colors, and representative forms. There are even more birds that exist in abstract, whether that be high fantasy, science fiction, or even imperceptibly altered forms that you very well may have to take the artists word is that of a bird.
Against all of these myriad possibilities that already exist, your humble servant enters the arena, impressed and a little intimidated, but not impossibly so.
The thing that impressed me most about birds, as it does so many, is the way they move. Not just flight, although that is a miracle in and of itself. To the land-bound, the sight of a creature defying gravity and the winds is awe-inspiring. But for me it’s even more impressive to see the variety of movement styles and how they play out.
Anything from the lumbering turkey to the dart-like swallow, there are an innumerable variety of ways to soar the skies. I watch the little fellows buzz overhead, chasing around their larger, more brutish counterparts. The slow, elegant grace of the heron, the power-filled crash of wings belonging to the birds of prey, there seems to be no limit to personal style. I take this is as a welcome relief. If there is room for so many creatures in such a specific kingdom, surely there must be room for a James in the art world.