A Bird A Day

For some reason I’ve put up a hoover-dam sized mental block about installing the tile board up in the upstairs bathroom. Because god forbid I spend two days prepping and tiling the shower and can then actually take a bath in this house. I wouldn’t even know what to do with myself. Instead I’m spending my time navigating this…

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Yeah, it’s pretty. Also, a pain in the ass to drive in.

Between the snow and the lack of daylight hours, this time of year I’m always drawn to less, ah, physically intense projects. When people say things to me like “I don’t know how you get so much done” or “I wish I could be as productive as you” I start to worry that I’m perpetuating some bullshit ideal of “always motivated and productive.” Let’s just take a moment to dispel those crazy notions… I am not always motivated or productive.

Most days I get back to the farm around 7:30 or 8, and by the time I take care of the animals, I have just enough energy to eat some cottage cheese straight out of the container for dinner, try to put a dent in my every-expanding unread-emails list, and then fall into bed and read books until I pass out. (I’ve moved on to the Odd Thomas series now, in case you’re wondering.)

It’s a glamorous life, you guys.

Just recently though–ever since I got the new bed set up–I’ve been setting an hour aside every night to practice my drinking painting skills. (Okay, but honestly, I don’t really paint unless I’m drinking… a lot.)

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It’s like a really low-effort version of feeling like I’ve done something worthwhile with my after-work hours. Also, I need some new art to hang above the new bed in my bedroom since the old drunken-bird painting doesn’t fit. (I know y’all thought I could just raise the existing bird painting, but the top of the painting would be above the top of the curtain rods, and, while I’m not an interior decorator, I’m pretty sure that’s like flipping Feng-shui the bird. (Pun intended? I have no idea.))

So, basically, that’s a long way of saying that I’ve been drinking a lot of wine and practicing my watercolor skills. (Note: I’ve never watercolored anything prior to this, unless you count paint-by-numbers shit back when I was in Pre-K.)

I stuck with birds because, I don’t know… I’ve become a crazy bird lady and I’m just embracing it.

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I also want to be real clear that these are not original paintings. I’m not an artist in the traditional sense… and that’s not false-modesty, it’s a fact. I’ve known so many brilliant artists– enough to know there’s a difference between what they do and what I do.  They create from the gut… from the heart. There’s an intentional meaning in their art, the way there’s an intentional meaning in the way I tell stories. But when I paint something? That’s just mentally deconstructing something else I’ve seen and trying to figure out how it was done. (You can see the original– and super awesome– hummingbird here, for example, where you can buy prints from the artist for $20.) So when I talk about “things I’ve painted while drinking” I just want everyone to keep that in mind.

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Also, this bird has the most awkward legs that have ever existed in a painting or real life.  (Please see the original for the real awesomeness, also only $15 for prints. Love Etsy.)

I think I’m trying to paint a set of three birds to go over the bed, but once I painted this red bird I realized my original hummingbird was so far out of proportion that it wouldn’t work as a series, and I’ve since panted two more trying to get it right…

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(I think I’m going to stick with the one in the middle.)

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Little paintings like this take less than an hour to complete, have very little clean-up, and give me that little since of “hey! I’ve done something!” so that I don’t feel too guilty about avoiding my upstairs bathroom. I have no idea if that’s a good thing, or a bad thing, but it seems to work for me.

So, for the time being, here’s to drinking, and painting, and birds. May spring come soon, and save both our livers and our sanity…

8 Responses

  1. yep….we are sometimes silly creatures with sometimes silly quirks and behaviors, at times others question. Much affecting how productive we are through the winter months has to do with priorities ( does it have to be done by tomorrow or next week )
    naturally by day light hours and how tired this time of year has made us feel when we walk through the door after our real job with chores in front of us. Might have something to do with why bears hibernate during the winter. I’m sure looking forward toward spring and making a list 😉

  2. Love the birds! The red one doesn’t have awkward legs, just awkward feet, imo… might be easily fixable. He has such an amazing expression on his face – you’ve really brought out some emotion – hard to do! He looks like he’s looking into Spring. Or a Summer sunset.

  3. I’d love to try watercolor painting with real paints. So far, I’ve just bummed my kids’ plastic trays of crayola. And I need something productive to do while drinking my wine at night. What watercolor and brush sets do you use? Also, are you painting onto canvas or a special paper? Thanks! Love your writing 🙂

  4. Friday afternoon, and I needed a break before I dive into the lovely fun (sarcasm) assignment that’s going to take me through the rest of the work day. Sooooo glad I found a post from you in my blog library. Just what I needed to give me the energy to get through.

    Love the picture of the red bird, even though her legs are a little weird.

    Y’know what? It’s Friday, and depending on your plans for the next two days, that means you might have potential of being home at the farm in daylight hours. No pressure to fill your weekend with tile board though. Imagine how much better her legs would look if you had natural light to paint by!

  5. These watercolors are lovely! This definitely seems like a productive and enjoyable way to spend winter evenings.

    I have a long list of house projects myself, and have been dragging my feet on several of them (even the ones that aren’t so physically taxing). Case in point: started stripping the bathroom wallpaper a week ago, and I’m still not done. There’s no excuse for how long it’s taking me…

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