Hover: Hummingbirds in the United States


Over the holidays I buy an iBook (download) called Hover: Hummingbirds in the United States. Yesterday I take the opportunity to hear how the book came to be.  I appreciate knowing  creative process – always different but somehow always the same. Idea appears, problems arrive, commitment leading to creative solution takes hold, and results  (not always clear) show up.

This book has its own unique story. It is designed for children but you can trust me when I tell you adults will enjoy it. The interactive book includes pictures, text, soundbites and video. For me, the best parts of the book are the comparison of  both the real-time and slow motion video. Observing hummingbirds captured in slow motion is a true joy, to say the least.

Naturalist Maria Mahar and photographer Thomas Strich drop in to talk Carolyn’s (Lavender) morning drawing class.  Her students meet before my afternoon class and Carolyn invites me to come in early to catch the presentation. I  enjoy it so much, I ask if they can stay and share their creative process with my group.

Maria opens the slide presentation ↓ telling about a hummingbird’s nest that appears in front of her son’s bedroom window. He loves it and they enjoy watching it. One thing leads to another, involved are research, camera, video equipment, outlines, sketches, travel and several years of work and lots of patience. She explains her vision begins one way with wanting to capture the glamour of the hummingbird. And then she explains, video allows her to catch the birds in a more true light, picking up footage she did not expect to see. The birds are beautiful and have many qualities.

I recall Tom first telling me about their project. He calls it a labor of love for Maria. And after hearing her speak, I know this to be true.


The presentation starts ; Through the Window 

Maria shows an example ↓ of how she set up chapters – that include both text and image.


A photo ↓ of how Tom sets up cameras to capture photographs and video. IMG_8587

I hope my students grasp Maria and Tom never really know how things are going to play out. Maria does explain this to them. She meets many challenges along the way and together with Tom, they arrive at solutions. I point out to my students on a regular basis about the investing of time and care into their work – this kind of process can lead to fine and creative results. This afternoon presentation is an example of that.

For more info visit → Hover: Hummingbirds in the United States
Here is a sample of video you’ll find on the website and in the iBook.

no woman is an island … continues


Hummingbird Study
mm collage on panel
12″ x 12″

I can title this post A work finds a home, because in general – it is about that. But in fact, it’s about so much more. The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people or organizations who support me and the work I do. No one continues alone, much less the artist. I enjoy and appreciate the full circle experiences.

Here we go – the last post for the last day of 2013.
It’s about art, hummingbirds – and a few people who appreciate both.


I took this photograph on a late afternoon in June. I understand Maria shot images of it that same day,  in the early morning.
Carolyn orchestrated both events – the nest was in  her yard.

A few years ago Carolyn Lavender introduced me to Tom Strich. It was opening night of our first run of exhibitions. I recall Tom and I talking briefly about the artwork, including the life force, and death. A few days later he drops me an email that includes a list of books based on our conversation that evening. I decide he’s thoughtful. I also determine he understands some of the connections I am trying to formulate with the work because I’d read at least half the books on the list.

Fast-forward to now …
Tom purchased the small hummingbird painting (at the top of this post) as a Christmas gift for his wife Maria. I’ve heard lots of good things about Maria. I know her only through her photographs and videos about what else – hummingbirds!  She has a website dedicated to the study.

I meet Tom the second week of December, to drop off the painting. Long story short, we end up in the Tempe Center for the Arts parking lot. It was not part of the plan but ironically the area leads to a path where his public art work sits. We take a walk and talk about his sculpture, and the surrounding landscape. He identifies a number of plants and birds as we move through the space, including Queen Butterflies, Red-Tailed Hawks, a Gila Woodpecker, and a male Anna’s Hummingbird. I leave our meeting looking over a napkin he listed book titles on – all connecting to our afternoon conversation. He’s kind and … he’s a generous, walking resource – I think to myself as I read through the information.

Tom is an artist and Maria is an observer of all things hummingbird. Take a look at their individual sites, they include information and many, many wonderful photos.

→ Thomas Strich, Artist
→ HummingbirdPictures.Net

Maria, I hope you enjoy the Christmas gift. Keep up the wonderful work. Thank you Tom.

… a happy and prosperous New Year to all.

I’ve painted many works that include the hummingbird.  I’ve mentioned the small creature associates with guidance. It is a light in the darkness and it connects to joy.

These examples range from 2007 -08.

wake up

Wake Up
mm on linen
12″ x 12″


I am , Yo Soy
mm collage print
13″ x 9″


How Many Times
casein on canvas
12″ x 12″


Finding Myself, Losing Myself
mm on linen
36″ x 24″

animal study / animal medicine



Here are the last two small studies of an animal series, a vertebrate and an invertebrate.

The hummingbird is an animal with a backbone – more accurate – it has a well-developed internal skeleton.  Vertebrates have a complex body and for my work – make for an opaque focal point. The red In above detail represents muscle tissue, the white is bone.

The butterfly below – an invertebrate – has no back bone. Compared to my other work it seems more transparent. I’m surprised to learn 98% of animals are invertebrates. Other attributes: small and slow-moving, no back bone (no internal skeleton at all), and no cell walls.

…no cell walls!?



This series of 4 (I’ve shown you 2 details in earlier posts)  are on panel. I laid in collage and carefully rendered shapes with graphite and casein. All these creatures are found in Arizona. And as the earlier post suggests, could have been found in my studio.  Each painting is finished with several coats of varnish.

These are for an invitational exhibition at Shemer – AZ MicroArt to coincIde with AZ MicroDwell (alternative spaces for simple living).pollinators

… now think animal medicine …
The hummingbird associated with guidance – is a light in the darkness. The butterfly supports transformation. Both connect to joy. The bee symbolizes work, community and communication. And the beetle surrenders to change, and is known for its adaptability.

Studying a Hercules Beetle
Bee Study