Bourbon & Birdies: Why Birds?

Every time I am asked “why birds?” I have to stop myself from saying “why not!”

I love birds. But I love mammals too. And fish! And cnidarians. And most critters that creep and crawl and fly and scurry across this great state. But I particularly love to paint birds.

There is of course the technical side of things - specifically that my technique of loose brushstrokes and strategic negative space lends itself to birds more than other critters. Birds in flight are really more amorphous blobs without defined edges than say…a snake.

But its more than just me being “good at” painting birds. Birds are a huge part of my life. Much of my childhood was spent in the back seat of my family SUV listening to my mom yell while wildly waving her arms and pointing out the window. “Spoonbills! Spoonbills! Look at all the spoonbills!” Needless to say, I come from a bird family.

Artist Kristen Summers at Corkscrew Swamp, Collier County

And then there was college, where I unwittingly entered into a Wildlife ID competition. That is when I went from a bird-appreciator to a bird-lover. I spent hours studying birds and learning their names. I’ll never forget going home for Christmas that year and going out with my parents to test my new bird knowledge. I remember seeing a catbird in the parking lot bushes and things “grey body, black cap, red rump, and sounds like a cat…..CATBIRD.” It’s a weird feeling knowing the name of an animal. It goes from being just a part of the scenery to being a friend.

Anyways, I didn’t win that competition (turns out I’m bad at identifying dried pieces of grass and sedges) but I did come away with the nickname “Warbler Princess,” which is basically the same thing as First Place.

Thanks for reading!