I Hope You Love Birds Too

March 21st, 2014

A recent painting by Rosemary G. Conroy

“I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.” — Emily Dickinson

I found the above quote while I was looking for inspiration for titles for a set of new paintings I had just completed. It was perfect! Thank you, Emily Dickinson, because I do love birds too.

I started this new painting series with the idea of birds as my local deities, as my personal heroes — because, well, they are. These fragile little beings find their way, live their lives against the backdrop of this complicated world we humans have created — and it blows my mind. How come they are never discouraged by the destruction of habitat, by the endless pollution, by the crazy ways the global climate is changing? Yes, they don’t have the same brains or perceptions that we do perhaps — but still. They must notice, they must feel, and yet they persist. They sing anyway and make nests out of trash and keep trying to live their lives no matter what obstacles are placed in their path.

Yep. Birds give me hope. They give me joy with their songs and their beauty and just their being. I try to give back a little by painting their portraits. By honoring them with my artwork and exhibiting it in the world so others might understand how so very precious these creatures (all creatures really) are. I keep thinking of moving onto other subjects but I can’t. My work is not done yet apparently.

Birds have become like a religion for me. In fact, I don’t think I could live in a world without birds anymore. Anytime I go someplace new or strange, I scan for birds — even just a gull or a pigeon. If they can make it here, then I know I’ll be OK too. When I am someplace with lots of birds, I feel completely relaxed and comfortable. When my mother died, I asked her — in that time when a loved one’s energy is still close by even though they are physically gone — to send me red-tailed hawks so I know she is still with me somehow. I feel great comfort when I spy one as I’m traveling or one shows up unexpectedly in my backyard.

So you’re right Emily, it does save going to heaven. In so many ways…

 

Wild-Eyed: A Fresh Look at Adirondack Fauna

July 1st, 2013

This piece is currently on exhibit at the View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY through August 4, 2013.

(This is my artist statement for my current exhibit at the View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY now through August 4, 2013.)

Artists often use the classic “portrait” style to show what a particular person looks like and perhaps, to offer a glimpse of their subject’s personality. Using my own twist on this idea, I present these depictions of the wild creatures that inhabit our local landscapes. Often interpreted in popular culture as aggressive or “extreme,” my paintings offer a different perspective on wildlife. After studying birds, mammals, and other wild things for many years and spending countless hours observing them, I have come to see most animals as simply beings that are trying to make their way in the world much like we are. So these aren’t just portraits of “a” bear or “a” bobcat, but are in fact “this” bear and “this” bobcat. Indeed, I have met almost every one of the individual animals exhibited here today. And I find my wild subjects quite worthy of consideration, contemplation, and of course, appreciation.

In fact, my passion for these wild animals sometimes takes my paintings close to edge of abstraction. I love playing with the juxtaposition of the real and unreal and testing how far I can take something before it is no longer recognizable. However, I always try to anchor this whirling dance of color and texture with an easily understood and accessible feature — the eye.

Looking — using our eyes — is the beginning of how we connect with the world and each other. By focusing on this feature in my paintings, I hope to offer the viewer some insight (metaphorically speaking) to all that we share with our wild neighbors. I believe that forming these connection deeply is an essential part of what makes us human, and ultimately, humane.

Drawn to the Clouds

August 6th, 2012

(This is my artist statement for an exhibit I currently have up at Emporium Gallery in South Berwick Maine. It features portraits of hawks, eagles, falcons and owls like the one shown here.)

Copyright 2012 Rosemary G. Conroy

I can honestly say that birds have changed my life. If I hadn’t come upon a group of bird-watchers in Prospect Park back in the mid-1980s, I’d probably still be living in New York City, working for a large corporation, and wondering what could have been… Luckily, my initial fascination with those colorful creatures grew into an obsession with all wild creatures that led me down a long and winding path to my life now as an artist living very happily in rural New England. I often seek to express my amazement for and love of birds through my art.

This current series is based on the individual hawks and owls who live at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) in Quechee, VT. My nickname for the series has been “raptors in rehab,” since all of these birds ended up at this wildlife rehabilitation center due to some injury that makes them unable to survive in the wild. I wanted to honor their sacrifice and commemorate their new role as ambassadors for their species. Because they are on public exhibit, these individual birds have taught countless school children and other visitors to VINS about their species. I hope the biggest lesson drawn is one about their beauty and dignity in the face of their misfortune, and of course about the impacts — both bad and good — that humans have had on their lives.

I visit them a couple of times a year to sketch, photograph, and study them up-close. I’m always struck by how much they continually watch the sky which makes me a little sad. So I’ve tried to convey my gratitude through this series and also to portray their essential wildness which obviously can never be diminished. I hope you enjoy this show which I’ve entitled, “Drawn to the Clouds.”

Please note that I will donate a percentage of sales from this show to VINS.

Healthy Obsessions

March 26th, 2012

Creativity coach Eric Maisel has recently assured me that there are healthy obsessions and unhealthy obsessions.

I think my on-going love of painting owls falls into the former category!

I’m calling this series, “Further Insight,” because owls have symbolized wisdom and mystery for many cultures and I like the punnish quality since these paintings are all centered around a single eye.

Hope you enjoy them!

 

Taking the Lead vs. Being Led

January 26th, 2012

So, I seem to have two painting styles going at the same time.

It used to bug me, but I’ve decided to let them be for now. I realized while talking to a client recently where each style originates and it was kind of interesting.

I heard myself say, “These kinds of paintings happen when I take the lead (pointing to my more realistic paintings) and these kinds of paintings (pointing to my flatter, more abstracter style) emerge when I let the paintings take the lead.”

It’s true. And funny and weird. But really cool once I figured it out.

You see, most of the time I start painting with a clear idea in my head of what I want to achieve.

On a really, really good day, they come out looking something like this:

Which is great and I LOVE when that happens. Those kind of painting days makes being an artist feel really magical!

But on other days, usually when I have no idea of what to do, or I am really tired or uninspired, I’ll set up a canvas and say,”OK painting: what do you want me to do?” And I won’t make a move until an idea pops into my head.

And then I’ll do just that — put on a particular color, or shape, or what have you, and then I’ll stop and wait for the next suggestion. It can take a while but something always pops into my head. It’s important not to analyze or think about it too much.

I’ve done several paintings this way in the last couple of months, and I have to admit, at first they kind of scared me.

Because they were kind of, well, whimsical. Here I was trying to be a serious artist, digging down deep into my psyche and what comes out is — this? (see below)

To be honest, I was actually a little freaked out by them. In fact, I didn’t show these paintings to anyone for a while but when I did — people LOVED them.

More astonishingly, I’ve sold most of them.

And it occurred to me, later on, that it’s OK. After all, it’s not a bad thing to tap into my inner self and come up with playfulness, joyfulness, and innocence and yes, whimsy.

What was I expecting anyway!?!?

Does “deep” art have to be dark and full of angst? Why? Why did I think that? Who makes up these rules anyway???

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capturer of Souls, Acrylic on panel, 18 x 18″

So much to be grateful for…

November 27th, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is from a new series I am working on. It's also about love.

Well, I’ve been waiting for confirmation on some big news and finally can tell you: my painting, “Capturer of Souls” (shown above) has become part of the permanent collection of the View Arts Center in Old Forge, New York! Whoo hoo!

I am very excited as this is my first permanent collection which feels like a big step in my career. Further collaborations with this wonderful place are in the works, so stay tuned!

Many, many thanks to Krissa Johnson and Gail Parker for making this happen.

 

What’s Inspiring…

October 13th, 2011
Thank you to all the inspiring birds who have graced my life.

Birds inspire me over and over again

Inspiration starts at home: Last weekend I had a chance to go kayaking in a local marsh which drains into a big lake near my home. The lake is pretty but lined with houses and often filled with loud speedboats. Since we thrive on peace and quiet more than speed and noise, my husband and I chose the marsh. It was meandering, empty of people, and surrounded by forests of trees in just-about-peak foliage. In other words, deeply soul-soothing.

This place where I live is inspiring. Most of my work, in one way or another, is an effort to celebrate it and preserve it. Nature feeds my spirit.

People inspire me too. I also spent part of last weekend visiting other artists who were part of the Monadnock Artists Open House Tour. I love seeing what other artists are doing and their unique spaces. I made a point of visiting Luann Udell — a very talented woman who lives in Keene, NH. Luann not only makes amazingly beautiful, animal-inspired jewelry and wall-hangings, she writes a great blog too. I have learned so much from her and am so appreciative of her sunny nature and positive outlook. AND she gave me one of the best hugs I have had in a while — so thank you Luann! You rock.

And of course wildlife. Obsessions can be unhealthy but I think it can also be the fuel that keeps your engines firing too. I find animals — both the wild and the mild ones — so incredibly fascinating. I can’t imagine living on this planet without them. This year I have been painting birds and wow — the shapes, the colors, the variety! Simply mesmerizing. Thank you great creator for birds and the many ways they have blessed my life.

 

Happy New Moon!

September 26th, 2011

One of the first ever in my backyard bird series.

I like to make note of the new moon every month – it’s considered a good time for beginning new projects. I’ve been spending a lot of time getting ready for my upcoming open studio and trying to create a thoughtful plan for the next year.

So my new moon goal will be to do some painting! It’s often surprising to me, even after all these years, how much time I spend not painting as an artist. There’s so much paperwork and promotional things and organizational stuff. Who knew?

But I have a window where I can get some painting done — I’m going to pick up an on-going series of backyard bird portraits I’ve done on and off over the past few years. Six to eight small paintings which I will hopefully get done in time for the annual small works/holiday season.

Now, if cold viruses, jury duty, and the beautiful fall weather can stop getting in the way, I can get back to work!

It’s Official: 2011 Open Studio Scheduled!

September 20th, 2011

Just a quick note (I really really do want to get back to this on a regular basis but I’m already late for a meeting) — my 5th annual open studio will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 22 and 23rd from noon to 4 pm both day!

Whew — just sent the files off for the postcard. If you are on my snail mail list, you’ll get one.

If not, click here and you can be.

Thanks for your time and interest and I’ll be in touch soon! I swear.

A Love Letter to My Life

February 14th, 2011

This is from a new series I am working on. It's ultimately about love, but then again, all of my work is!

Today is Valentine’s Day. I’ve been thinking about all the kinds of love I have in my life — and its quite humbling. I am incredibly blessed.

And I am so in love with being an artist. It feels like I won the lottery every day.

So here’s a poem that I often read before I start painting. It’s by an artist named Alex Grey whose work amazes me and kind of overwhelms me at the same time. But he has very inspiring thoughts, including these:

Artist’s Prayer

Creator of the Universe,
How infinite and astonishing
Are your worlds.
Thank you,
For your Sacred Art
And sustaining Presence.

Divine Imagination,
Forgive my blindness,
Open all my Eyes.
Reveal the Light of Truth.
Let original Beauty
Guide my every stroke.

Universal Creativity,
Flow through me,
From my heart
Through my mind to my hand,
Infuse my work with spirit
To feed hungry souls.

I hope you get to enjoy all the things you love today too!