Walking through a St. Charles neighborhood, there were few places where houses were not dense enough to block the view. However, we kept walking around, discovering a park that was nice, but the best view was a vacant lot on a hill, where one could see the city beneath, over the rooftops of communities. We loved the view from that spot, (although we did not go up to the hill because it was marked as privately owned). A space with a view. That background is suggested here …though not detailed, the feeling is there. Space. A clear space. I love the feeling of freedom in open spaces.
The raven, of course, is Jack. He has never been to St. Charles except in our hearts, and our son has only been here once, except in our hearts. He was standing in his kitchen when I took the photo, with his cell phone. A view of sorts. He also has a pleasant outlook in his life now, and I find he and Jack have a great degree of intelligence and basic joy in their lives.
And since our son and our Jack the raven are some of my favorites, I saw no problem bringing all those pleasant attributes together into one painting, titled “A Bright Outlook”.
The painting is on a canvas with 2 other paintings under it, so it has the added interest of varied textures. It seems most of my life I have painted with some sort of green underpainting before a portrait, but for this one, I began with warm colors and stayed warm to go with his red hair. I use several brands of paint, recently enjoying “blue black” from Rublev and a Mussini “juane brilliant” as well as others beautiful colors. It’s fun to try new paints. Sometimes in working these days, I might forget what I’m doing a little bit or things like that, but I don’t worry about it like I used to.
Also, I discovered I have a tendency to use brushes down to their nubs. I don’t think I want to do that any more. It’s fun to have a nice new brush or two. Live it up.
It was a cold and snowy morning, the only snow we had this year. My husband went out to give Jack a snack on the rocks out front. Jack is wild, but comfortable enough to stay close, yet behind the big rock. I loved this scene, I loved the peace of it, and the friendship of a man and a raven.
Jack comes to visit every day. He likes things that most of us don’t, so he gets food scraps and other tidbits. Every once in a while, for special occasions, he gets an egg. That is a very special occasion. The rest of the time, Jack is a mighty hunter, taking care of himself.
The tall rock he is standing behind is his very special perch, from which he surveys the small valley that is his territory. No one else gets to sit on that rock for long.
In the foreground are snow covered trimmed lavender bushes, where cottontails sometimes hide when Jack shows up.
When the mountains are snow-peaked in the early spring and the yellow bladderpods bloom, this spot on a hilltop reminds me of the high-meadow in the Alps where, in the film, the family was escaping Austria. I can hear Julie Andrews singing when I am approaching the place from below. After the mountain snowmelt, the yellow wildflowers remain for a time, then fade away.
Sometimes I give Jack a snack, and he is encouraged by that small kindness to, on occasion, anticipate my pathway as I walk. He fluffs his feathers, croaking sweet love sounds. He perches in familiar spots, this weathered mesquite stump being a favored perch. Jack is a smart bird, willingly giving us space enough to make sure we are not overly frightened by his closeness. Yet he allows enough nearness when he poses and flexes his muscles for his next photoshoot, but most of the time he taps his large bill on his perch as an indication that he really is ready to get his treat.
Jack has a noble heart, loyal to his mate, “Honker”, and perfectly raven in all of his ways. We are a member of Jack’s murder, we love that he shares his territory with us.