“… Blacks and Native Americans share one thing. Native Americans had their land stolen, and their culture systematically crushed. Blacks – it’s the opposite; they were stolen from their land, and they had their culture systematically crushed. We can’t begin to imagine what it takes to come back from that…” – Greg Iles – excerpt from 2017/National Writers Series interview –

About a year ago the National Writers Series interviewed Greg Iles about his new book, Mississippi Blood. Last night while working on a pencil drawing, and the discussions about racism in Mississippi provide timely insight.

Start at minute 55 and listen until for five minutes, and decide if you want to start at the beginning.

For the past eight days I’ve been visiting the nearby park as often as possible – to record the rapid growth of five Purple Gallinule ‘chicklets.’
Here is a (slideshow) peek at those precious babies:

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With ample reference material, I prepared mentally to paint this beautiful species. Going through the hundreds of photos, I grasp tidbits of information about the birds – understanding the nuances of behavior or the tilt of the head.  Eventually it’s as if I know my subject extremely well. It’s a bit like an incubation – and Greg addresses that same process in the interview. When the time is right, BAM – you’re off and going at full throttle. My only wish during that intense burst of creative energy (focus?) is that nothing stops the process until the work is finished. Returning to a ‘cold’ work is difficult; the essence evaporates.

This study is different however, but if possible even more intense! Instead of drawing the outlines in pencil and then switching to paint, I am using a 4B pencil for a pencil portrait of the baby gallinules.

Last night I worked from 6 pm until midnight, took a short break and resumed for ‘just a little bit more’ and worked until 3! In some areas I was sharpening that 4B pencil every few minutes!

P3010989 BABY PURPLE GALLINULES pencil in progress

So why the switch to pure pencil?

BirdWatchingDaily recently announced the Sibley Bird Watching Art Contest (the “Contest”), presented by The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. which requested ‘a although I think that any kind of art is permitted.

I’ve so many choices – and the local birds seem to be competing for my attention! These waterbirds seemed to be participating in meditation week.

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The official rules state:
ENTRY PERIOD: The Contest begins at 12:01 AM (Eastern Time) on May 15, 2020, and ends at 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on June 15, 2020.
HOW TO ENTER: Post an original drawing of a wild bird to Instagram using the hashtag #SibleyBirdWatchingArtContest and follow @aaknopf, @sibleyguides, and @birdwatchingmagazine, as required in the applicable Contest announcement.
The drawing must be your original artwork and can use any medium, including digital. …

The rules state, “Post an original drawing” yet then state, “any medium,” but to me a drawing is very different from a painting.     For more information, start here:  Sibley BirdWatching Contest

Today I returned for a few specific photos of the water hyacinth details. The little balls of Gallinule fluff have a notable change, and this precious pair seemed to be modeling their  new look.

P3020357 baby purple gallinules in pajamas

A week older and a change of attire.  (Pajamas?)

The computer’s being stubborn today, and the battery is now quite weak. The pages are not loading, so hopefully the images and videos are the right ones.

P3020348 baby gallinule pajamas june 9

Will be back in a few days with the finished drawing/drawings.     So many birds, so little time.  (Deadline in less than a week!)

To hear a different Southern author’s accent, one will surely smile when hearing “Miss Welty” read “Why I Live at the PO.”

“It’s going to take a long time, and it’s going to take white people admitting what we did was pretty damned bad.” – Greg Iles – 2017 National Writers Series interview