Bird Soaks in Me

My new book often describes my intuitive process for "capturing the essence" of a feeling, time, creature or person. I am not sure I can say that this is always my main goal when I get up in the morning, to capture the essence of things all day, but I feel that is what my art's purpose is, to be emotive for me and viewers.

While I was in the barn yesterday taking pictures of the building, I heard the distinctive call of the Western Tanager. The photo is nothing worth talking about, but I felt compelled to take it. At that instant I was moved by the small little body immersed in bramble, sitting on a falling down fence. His strong song piercing through the barn felt juxtaposed to his small stature.

That was an attempt to document that moment's essence and use it later as a "jog" for my memory in order to start a painting. Later that day I felt moved enough to do something in color and shapes. I played with an old original, collaging shapes and colors so the birds were as big as their song. The falling down fence has my respect and so achieved color. Sometimes the moment captured on film or recorded in our memories evolve in the art as the muses let us journey in a self beating rhythm.

Katherine Dunn is an artist, writer, and shepherdess at Apifera Farm where she lives with her landscaper husband. Her new book, Creative Illustration Workshop [Quarry Books], is now available. She also muses about farm life, old goats and donkeys, feral cats, weeds, pie, chicken underpants and puppets on her regular blog