Rhapsody in Bluebird

SPIRIT VESSEL I
late May – June 2000

This painting began late one night in those last few minutes of
consciousness which precede a good night’s sleep.
Earlier that week a friend had brought me some curbside treasures which included an old metal tool box. It sat out in
the yard in a thunderstorm while the impatiens were planted and the patina of rust blossomed. And at work the other
day we had found the remains of a dear baby bird when they were repairing the sign on the storefront.

Laying awake that night, in the dark, the elements of the composition merged.
The tiny bird which held on to it’s newly hatched puff of feathers and cavernous skull would find a soft resting place
on the white linen napkin. With the long forgotten clarinet won by the highest bid on a Stoner’s
Saturday night auction to serve as counterbalance, the deep siennas of rust on the tool chest
would become the earthy foundation.

I stumbled over the dogs’ gate, found a pad of paper next to the sofa, and sketched out the details.
Now, two weeks into the painting, the deeper mystery unfolds.

I made a note early on that the darkest part of the painting must be the open keys of the
instrument and the eye socket of the skull which led me to see that both are vessels of a sort.
Empty chambers devoid of that element which would bring them to
life…. air…..breath.
When seen in this way they are vessels of spirit.
When lifted by the breath of life, the music soars…..
the bird soars……

In this the season of hatchlings, sounds of the newest fledglings fill the yard.
Just this morning, as Herself was leaving for work, we were scolded by a mother Chickadee, who had been
nesting nearby. There, in the corner of our chicken coop cum table, was her youngest. A tiny speck of wildlife
lost among the porch furniture.
Trying out it’s new wings the baby bird hopped to the flower bed.
Then, summoning a great energy, it flew on awkward wings over to and under the picnic table.
It was there, resting in the tall grass, when I headed up to the studio this morning.
I have looked all over the yard tonight, but it has gone.

Perhaps she has found shelter under a privet hedge, or is snuggling in the strawberry patch for the night, but I prefer to imagine her with a gentle wind at her back, lifting those tender wings
and finding the rift of a hauntingly graceful jazz melody
on which to soar.