Grace, subtlety and a haunting call
This male shows off his beauty mark.
The Mourning Dove is one of those birds that is so common that we risk taking it for granted – perhaps relegating it to the ranks of “background bird”. Like most creatures, though, it pays to stop and try to really pay attention – and look with fresh eyes if we can. I can remember hearing their sad and beautiful call from a very early age – my Mom explaining to me that, No, it was not an owl. Those calls at dusk still catch my ear more than 50 years on.
I carved this Dove for a local fundraiser. The Agricultural Stewardship Association is dedicated to conserving farmland hereabouts. I have been fortunate to participate in their Landscapes for Land’s Sake art show for the last few years. I always try to include some birds that are not restricted to the wet landscape – and also try to find birds familiar to most who live in this farming community. The main artistic draw for me was the subtle changes in hue over the bird – I wanted to replicate – and maybe exaggerate – all those changes one can see as these birds crowd the feeder, and especially as they “color up” when breeding season approaches. I used oil paints in my quest for these colors and tones.
This is my first carved Mourning Dove – I started a watercolor in the late 1970s but never finished it. I decided upon what I think of as a folk art style – a simple, straightforward posture from a single piece of wood – in this case Basswood. My one extravagance was to fan out the tail so that I could show that white fan that is so obvious when they take flight.
Although I chose to carve a simple posture, I could not readily decide on the attitude – more horizontal or more vertical? So, I tried both. There are two different mounting holes in the bottom of this Dove. The brass “leg” can fit into either one. The first two images depict the horizontal and this last image depicts the vertical.