Cut Paper Birds Using Painted Paper

For my 100th post (after a decade of writing this blog) I can think of no better subject than birds! I love birds. Anyone that follows this blog or my Instagram feed is very aware of this fact. I have been using bird imagery in my art for almost 15 years now and I still am not tired of my little feathered muses.

When we moved to our new home I was uncertain what type of bird watching experience I would have. Our previous rental was rich with opportunities and I was quite fond of the Mourning Doves that frequented our yard.

CryTheBird(Levacy)-Home

We are now located right on the Tennessee river by a dam that attracts a unique and varied mix of water foul. I have never encountered so many different species of birds in one location. It should not have come as such a surprise seeing as we live across from one of Alabama’s birding trails. I did expect to see water birds but I was not as hopeful about the common backyard birds I had come to love.

CryTheBird(Levacy)-PorchWithMiso

I was delighted that our front yard – which bumps up against TVA forest and a wild and lovely 3 acre goat farm – provides a great space for all manor of familiar feathered friends.

My daughter and I were painting the other day at the dinning table. I had fed the birds earlier that morning and as we painted we watched them feeding from the kitchen window. I was inspired to make collage paper pieces of these sweet guests and began to paint a bunch of colored card stock with my kids thin acrylic paint. Doing this added a lot of visual interest to the papers and a nice texture that suggested feathers and reflected light without looking too realistic.

CryTheBird(Levacy)-CutPaperBird-Process1

When dry, I made my first bird by sketching it out. When I was happy I placed another piece of thin (computer) paper on top of my drawing to make a template pattern that I could cut out and trace on the pieces of painted paper. This took some figuring out as I did not account for the need to glue the pieces together the first go-around. But, I thankfully quickly found my footing and then was off and running.

CryTheBird(Levacy)-CutPaperBird-Chickadee
M. Levacy, Chickadee, cut paper and acrylic paint, 2020

I plan to make these birds into a larger collage piece for my daughter – something to put in her room or in our studio room that we are currently working to unpack and get set up. I have yet to make her any major work of art and I felt this would be a good first piece to gift her – something she will have for years to come.

CryTheBird(Levacy)-CutPaperBird-Titmouse
M. Levacy, Titmouse, cut paper and acrylic paint, 2020

I am not sure how many more birds I will make but I do know that I will limit the species to ones that we see and identify together in our yard. I have contemplated a series of multiple works – one with small songbirds, one with the three types of woodpeckers we host in our area, and another with predatory birds like the Bald Eagles and Ospreys we see on a regular basis.

CryTheBird(Levacy)-CutPaperBird-Bluebird
M. Levacy, Eastern Bluebird, cut paper and acrylic paint, 2020

This method of creating brings me back to undergraduate studies and provides a simple space for creation that is uncluttered and uncomplicated. It has significance but that too is not something that is in any way overwhelming.

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M. Levacy, House Finch and Cardinal, cut paper and acrylic paint, 2020

Currently we are adjusting to our quarantined life-style where we shelter-in-place and home-school and teach online. Taking on too much at any one time is a bit impossible. But I do find that I can carve out a tiny bit of time here and there to work on a small component such as a bird, knowing that later I will be able to pull everything together and bring order and logic to bits and pieces that I collect.

CryTheBird(Levacy)-CutPaperBird-Wren
M. Levacy, Wren, cut paper and acrylic paint, 2020

During this time of chaos and confusion I have promised myself to practice creative self-care as much as possible. I want to push myself to be mindful that my own creativity and need for art is still important among my various new responsibilities.

CryTheBird(Levacy)-CutPaperBird-Phoebe
M. Levacy, Phoebe, cut paper and acrylic paint, 2020

As a parent it is sometimes easy to forget that this too is a lesson for my child. When my daughter sees me ask for and make the space I need, I hope that one day she will feel empowered to do the same.

I would encourage everyone to find small moments for themselves now and everyday – a time to breath, a time to kindle an inner spark.

CryTheBird(Levacy)-CutPaperBird-Nuthatch2
M. Levacy, Nuthatch, cut paper and acrylic paint, 2020

 

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