After writing my last post, I noticed that owls are the latest fad in jewelry & home decor. For example, I received 2 owl necklaces, an owl figurine, & owl notecards for gifts this past year. Every time something new becomes trendy with mainstream America, I ask myself, “Why?” Why designer handbags? Why expensive little beads for bracelets? Why painful stiletto shoes that cost a fortune? Why owls?
Owls have resonated with people for thousands of years. To many earth-centered cultures, Owl is a symbol of wisdom, magic, omens, prophetic vision, the moon, & the Divine feminine. Owl was Athena’s animal, a symbol of higher wisdom. To the Pawnee, it symbolized protection & to the early Welsh, fertility. Christian Gnostics associate Owl with Lilith, Adam’s first wife. She refused to submit to Adam & left him (& the garden) of her own free will. Owl is a symbol of her strength. I find it ironic that the Gnostic story states both Lilith & Adam were made of the earth while Genesis states Eve came from Adam’s rib (& doesn’t even refer to Lilith at all). It puts Eve (& all women) “beneath” men in a subservient way. Interesting…. I must read more about this but don’t know enough about it to comment further here.
Because of Owl’s acute vision & hearing, it can see & hear what others try to hide, making their secrets transparent. The message being: keep silent & stay alert; all will be revealed.
I find it intriguing that so many cultures throughout history attach spiritual significance to animals, reinforcing, for me, the importance of honoring all forms of life on this planet.
Seeing an owl in the wild has been on my “Bucket List” for years. It’s these smaller obtainable dreams that make life worth living & I do everything I can to make them come true.
A local park offered an Owl Walk last Friday night so we took advantage of the mild January evening & set off for an adventure. It was the perfect evening, clouds covered the moon & stars so the night was totally dark… & totally silent (even with little children in the group!). With our voices mute, we heard Mother Nature talking to us through the babbling stream that ran along the trail & the whispering wind in the branches of maples & firs not yet heavy with snow. I closed my eyes & imagined a time before street lights & headlights. A time before the hum of electricity drowned out the voice of nature.
Our guide called out to the screech owls who might be hiding in the darkness. It sounded like the whinnying of a horse but it worked! A screech owl responded to our call. The guide called again. The owl called back, each time circling a bit closer, closer… until the guide clicked on his flashlight. The surprised owl sat on a low-lying branch just feet from us. A bit disappointed that we weren’t a potential mate (I can only imagine), he pushed off the branch, spread his silent wings, & disappeared into the night. No one spoke. I could only squeeze my boyfriend’s hand in amazement. Magic.
The watercolor & ink sketch below is in homage to the owls, trying to live among humans in habitats that are ever-shrinking. I hope one day soon, we see how much responsibility goes along with being human & begin to respect & love our earthly home as well as our extended animal & plant family.
Have you ever entered an art supply store & had your eyes dance with excitement when you spot something you’ve never used before? That happened to me recently– I fell in love with these cute 3-inch square canvases at Dick Blick’s. Working on this scale is new for me but I had a feeling it would be fun to try. Before I got to the cash register, I knew that they would be mini-portraits of animals to set on a small ledge in my house but that’s all I knew.
What’s nice about working on a small scale is that it’s inexpensive, quick, & liberates me from my tendency to be a perfectionist. I don’t worry about what anyone else may think– I’m creating art for art’s sake. Letting my heart lead the way, I chose acrylics in bright jewel tones, black, & white for the background surface treatment. My brush was relatively dry to give the effect of colored chalks on a chalkboard- sketchy & rough. After completing the backgrounds, I sipped Jasmine tea while patiently waiting for Divine inspiration to speak to me & influence the art. One by one, Snowy Owl, Holstein Cow, Mourning Dove, White-Tailed Deer, & my Shih Tzu Pixie appeared in the paint. It was a relatively quick art session but sometimes the best art happens that way 🙂
Try experimenting outside your comfort zone by working on a scale you normally don’t use. It will give you a fresh perspective on your creative process but most of all, you’ll have fun trying something new. By the way, I’m offering free shipping through Dec. 31st to anyone who purchases something at my Etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan. Use coupon code SAK1966.