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A Cardinal in the Snow

In 2006 I was told this by my favorite art professor Joe (whose last name I will not reveal): Stop composing designs with so many circles. You aren’t good at it and they are too feminine. People won’t take you seriously if you make your art too girly and collectors won’t buy it.

He suggested that compositions with rectangles and triangles were more masculine and therefore superior to my whimsical nonsense circles. After all, most people who buy art are men. They buy it as an investment or to please their wives….OOF, can you believe this guy?

I thought about this statement a lot and then I kept on making circles. I made lots of circles. You know me…If there is an empty space, I’ll be putting a circle in it. Every now and then I think about good old Joe while my hand starts cramping up from all of circles. This particular painting really started bringing back some art school memories.

Let’s think about what circles represent. Eternity, Totality, Perfection, Wholeness

Now for the birds. My grandmother had a thing for birds. Bird wallpaper, birdbaths tucked into her gardens, feeders throughout the yard, and a holly tree where they loved to hide. I remember sitting at her kitchen table while she cooked and she would look out the window and give me little updates about what the birds are doing. “Oh! There’s the male cardinal! Isn’t he pretty?” Since childhood I have always associated bird imagery with Grandma.

Over the years I have painted several bird paintings and every time, I think of her. For a long while I have considered doing all kinds of series of bird paintings, and maybe soon I will. Northeastern Birds, Beautiful exotic birds, Sea Birds, Ducks! The possibilities are endless! Overwhelming in fact.

Then in January 2021 I came across a photo on Instagram that I just loved! It was taken by a woman named Lindsay in Maine and I sent her a DM immediately. I believe in creative integrity, so I insist that if anyone uses a reference photo, that they have permission from the photographer (but that’s a whole different blog post). Luckily, Lindsay agreed that I could paint her beautiful photo and I got to work right away. Unfortunately, it was terrible timing because I was also flooded with commissions. I put the cardinal aside and finished my commissions which took until the end of March. Then, it was time to begin my 100 day project in April. My cardinal would have to wait….and wait….and wait.

13 months after I started it I picked up the cardinal and finished it in two days! Once I put the background colors in I couldn’t put it down. I was obsessed with finishing this painting. It was one of those paintings that was simple for me to complete, like I was meant to paint it. Why can’t they all be like that?

To make the experience even better, the painting sold the day I finished it!! I posted it on Instagram and one of my followers reached out to me right away, telling me that she needed the painting. It was for her husband. He had recently lost his grandmother who loved cardinals. She showed him the painting and he began to cry. He believed it was a sign and so do I. The painting that reminded me of my grandmother as I worked connected him to his grandmother in a similar way.

People often ask me if I get sentimental about my paintings. They want to know if I’m sad to sell them. My answer is: absolutely not! In fact, it is the opposite. I’m happy to know that the paintings are going somewhere where they will be appreciated. I love knowing that they give joy to people. I especially love knowing a painting is being sold to someone who has an instant connection to it like the one in this story. And I truly love that a man likes my paintings- even with all of those circles. Haha.

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