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Wednesday
Jul062011

Studio crow

My father taught himself to do taxidermy when he was a teenager, and my parents' house has a room with dozens of his mounted wildlife crowding the walls. Most of them are specimens that he found dead but intact along the road, or that friends gave him, knowing of his hobby. All kinds of birds, large and small, squirrels, weasels, a beaver, schools of fish, and even a bobcat from his high school days. He hasn't done much in the last few years, but when he was into it, he won professional ribbons at competitions even though he was an amateur. Like many things my dad does, (drawing and painting, for instance), he's easily good enough to earn a living at it. He just never wanted to. He just liked doing it and wanted to do it really well.

This crow has been downstairs, just inside the front doors, for the nine years we've lived here, startling guests and collecting dust and cobwebs. He came up here just 45 minutes ago because I knew he'd be hard to draw. Maybe he'll stay here so I can do it again. Until I can do it really well.

A crow preserved in a lifelike pose years ago by my dad, hanging from a PH 3/2 sconce in my studio.

Evening break, another stab.

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Reader Comments (2)

Hey Scott, I just lost the post I was writing. Maybe it already reached you. But I'll try to recreate it just in case. What I said was something like....here's something you don't know about me. I was about 10-years-old when I was in my parents bedroom watching Hitchcock's "The Birds" for the first time when my sister's boyfriend grabbed me by the shoulders just as I was watching the scene where Jessica Tandy finds her friend with his eyes pecked out. Needless to say, I was frightened. But I was also hooked, too. I try to watch The Birds at least once every summer. I love everything about that movie. The period: 1961. The setting: Bodega Bay. The saturated tone of the colors throughout the movie. The clouds. The sports cars. The explosions. The waiting for the next attack. I love the modern, self-assured nature of Tippi Hedren's character; the moxie it took to buy and deliver those Love Birds to Rod Taylor's sister, Angela Cartwright, for her birthday. And her kindness to Suzanne Pleshette, who understood Hedren is stealing the man she loved. But the birds I love best in this movie are the crows on the jungle gym. All iridescent, oily black, menacing and murderous. I go nuts when I see the purple-black Grackle/Crow/Blackbirds descend on the freshly stocked bird feeders outside my living room window gorging themselves on seeds and suet. I feel for the hungry yellow finches, doves, nuthatch and cardinals. But I can't take my eyes off those muscular birds that flee to the tree tops when I fling open my front door to scare them away.

YES! Menacing and murderous. And they're so coldly casual about it. When they hop, they lift their wings just a little, and they sort of glide a little with a creepy nightmarish slowness. Not like little birds and not like other big birds. And they are big. Big enough to hurt you. But there is something mesmerizing and magnetic about them, and you clearly get that, Meredith. I'm going to keep doing this as long as it's taking me somewhere. Drawing the crow, I mean. And I'll bet where ever it takes me won't be good. I can hardly wait.

July 8, 2011 | Registered CommenterScott A. Stultz

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