A Few New Prints

The studio inbox has recently received requests for some new prints to be offered…
and it gave me the opportunity to clean that page up a bit and add a few new ones.

You will find this logo at the top of the page after you click on Prints from the menu bar on my website…heatherneill.com

NEW to the site are…

So there ya go,
a little bit of whimsy for this season.

Back tot he easel for me…
you lot stay frosty out there !


It’s a wonderfully dreary start to the day before Thanksgiving in central Pennsylvania, the perfect weather for painting.

We, like so many in this land, have a large plucked bird in the fridge and are planning to roast it with most of the trimmings and be thankful. And I am, for many things. But today, I thought I’d concentrated on…the birds.

Watching them, feeding them, learning about them, painting them, and most of all the delight of coming upon the treasured gift of their feathers.


The studio is full of them. Collected over the years, their beauty astounds. With my new bionic knees I am back out on the trails, and the muses are back as well…


After finding this beauty, I decided it was time to get serious about identification so I got this book…


Which I highly recommend. I’ve been pouring over it for days now. And the first one I spied was this one which recently made a supporting role appearance in this painting you might remember…

the master carvers tea

if you zoom in on the Jorgesen, that would be the clamp for you non-woodworkers, you will see the feather, which…every single one of the avian enthusiasts mis-identified. I have four of them which have been floating around here for years. But right there on page 91…


we see that it belonged to a Chukar !
Further research, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, reveals that the Chukar is…
chukar web

A native of southern Eurasia, the Chukar was introduced into the United States from Pakistan to be a game bird. It lives in arid, rocky terrain across the western United States and southern Canada.
And then it hit me…I already knew that. Insert fading memory comments here as you will, but it all came back to me. Years ago, I’ll say 4, I found one perched on my studio garage roof. As you can see, it is a stunner of a bird so it caught my attention, but it is also not a local gal. I also seem to remember that, when first I googled this creature, there was mention of raising these smallish sized birds to release for hunters to take down with big guns, ( picture me here shaking my head in dismay).

The memory of finding the feathers is lost but, when I decided to take the leap to add that little bit of whimsy to Peter’s painting, it was after all a painting of Peter, the birdman of Plymouth, I didn’t have to look far to find the perfect candidate as these four feathers have been tucked into a little blue teacup behind my easel for lo those, I’ll say four, years now.

Above that easel is this display of painting and sketch and original model…



And yes, the muses are right there over my shoulder of late…


Cardinal Wolsey. The ever present window slammer of a bird, is still with me. I now believe she is more than just a disturbed bird. Pat and Finn met a woman at the park last week who, after hearing the story of the intrepid one, immediately suggested that she was someone who I had known who had “passed on” and did I know anyone in the clergy. Well I sat back in my chair at that one. Seriously, my father, the Presbyterian minister, returned as the slammer ?


Possibly ?
I’m still pondering that one.
But this bird is definitely trying to tell me something. She now follows me from window to window and watches me all day long. Hurling Herself at the panes seems to diminish when I settle in at the easel. Then she just flies up and stares at me…the rubbernecker.

Well, ok, that part could be Ted. He is definitely nudging me to focus on painting…probably as I write this…which is taking time away from what I began this blog with…

that perfect painting day.

Well, the dreary rain has turned to our first snowfall of the season. The promise of a winter wonderland, a bird in the oven, one at the window, and two dozen at the feeders…that’s all I need of Thanksgiving.

And, this…to all my friends and patrons, whose support allows me to do the work that is so meaningful to my soul…

Thank you.




Cardinal Smash

The Basket Weaver

Intermittent Reinforcement –
That would be akin to psychological torture and for an artist, in her studio, painting with tiny brushes, all day…
most, any … all distractions raise the blood pressure.
In the case of the smashing cardinal, radical measures had to be taken…


Earlier this spring, The Bird, started seeing her reflection in this window and set to hurling herself at it. Repeatedly. In five – ten minute intervals. Sun up. To sundown.
My easel is six feet to the left.Where, this spring, I was sitting…Sun up to Sundown and then some.
Years ago a naturalist friend explained the phenomenon to me and I have since forgotten all the lovely avian reasoning behind the need to defend…against oneself. And, though I have had oodles of time to ponder the psychological anomalies of seeing one’s own reflection as a threat…a constant threat…I long ago lost patience with the hurling distraction. Not to mention the self-mutilating brutality of what the poor misguided bird must be experiencing.

So, the sheet. Which neighborhood watch persons, Paul and Matt, saw on their daily bucolic commutes and wrote a scathing review of on social media. Insert smiley face emoticon.

This fix did work. It even survived for many weeks through storm and wind and hail. Last week, after I had left the easel behind for some quilting therapy, and needed more light, I took down the sheet.
Tap tap…smash. She was back.
Now, sitting directly in front of the action, I was able to see that, except for some drool and bother, there didn’t seem to be much in the way of residual bird parts left after the attacks. The beak alone was being used to make… her point. I had hoped that it was a nesting behavior and that all that mess would be over by now. But no. Or still. I’m not sure.

Either way, the sheet has gone back up. I have left the now dim corner of the quilting chair, and returned to the easel. And now, just for fun, I am privy to one or two tiny taps an hour. Seems that she is ever vigilant, but now only curious, and she flies up to the top of the sheet and perches and peers inside for a silent, blessedly silent, minute or two and then is off. You would have had a photo of this for confirmation, but she is camera shy.

I, of course, am curious my own self.
Trickster Goddess or Muse ?Painter or Seamstress.
Perhaps time will tell…
I know SHE won’t.



Knocking on my chamber door…

This cardinal and his mate have been tap tap tapping on my studio window incessantly for …ever.

I have tried closing the blinds, leaving them half open, open all the way, hanging strings in the window… putting up tiny signs that say hush… and still…every day…he and his mate come back a’ knockin’.

I even suspect that this is the second generation because last year the female had a strange growth on her head…probably from knocking it all day…and this year it’s gone.

One morning this winter, while I was eating breakfast, a cardinal slammed into the kitchen door. I mean kamakazi. He didn’t make it and what with the three feet of snow on the ground the best I could do for him was to throw him in the garden. He sank like a stone. Yesterday I found the bright red feathers amongst the brilliant green chives.

Perhaps he was the patriarch and the current pair are keeping up the family tradition of trying to get into the studio…or just to get my attention…

this must be the muses…

but I’m just not getting it yet.

Any thoughts ?