Panel 1 49"x145" 2011-2013

Panel 2 49"x18"  

Panel 3 49"x78" 2013 

Panel 4 49"x12"

Panel 5 49"x12" 
For many years, I have been fascinated by the strength, the grace and the resilience of birds, whether they are on their annual migratory journey or surviving the cold Maine winter. One day, seven years ago, while standing on an elevated outdoor platform waiting for a train, I began to hear the distant chirps and calls of throngs of birds building into a cacophony as they drew nearer. I was astounded to look up and see wave after wave of grackles, starlings and blackbirds flying overhead in a chaotic line, about 7 or 8 abreast, that went on for miles. It was a truly awesome sight and was the initial inspiration for this mural. I wanted to convey something of that same sense of wonder in this work, but with a greater variety of species than were flying together that day.
Installation Views:

Panel 1 

Panels 1-3

 Panels 2-5


Panels 1-5 

Panels 5-1
  Installation Night Views:     

Panels 1 and 3 

Panels 1, 2, 3 and 5 

Statement (cont'd):

Further inspiration was drawn from "Winged Migration", a 2001 film directed by Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud and Michel Debats. Most of the camera angles were from the birds' point of view, enhancing the sense of identification with them. In this piece, it is hoped that the viewer will experience some of the same sense of height and motion as the birds themselves. Placing the eye level (or horizon line) of the painting at the viewer's approximate eye level might give a sense of what we can only guess it feels like to enter the world of a bird flying across the sky. It was also important to show the magnificent variety of colors, shapes and sizes of these amazing feathered beings, some blending into the landscape and others standing out in a dazzling array of rainbow shades.

Establishing a sense of place with the Sandy River was another major element of this piece, although secondary to the birds. Using the Maine Atlas, I drew a diagram of the twists and turns and tributaries of the river as it meanders from the Sandy River Ponds to meet the Kennebec River. Although this was not meant to be an exact aerial view of the river, I did try to maintain its character while bending and stretching and shrinking the lines to fit the principles of perspective. This is also true of the tributaries and nearby small ponds and lakes. Distances were lengthened or shortened as the composition and rules of perspective dictated. Streams and brooks serve as guideposts but will not appear exactly as they would on a map. Elevations have been left out.

The left side of the first panel starts out at the Sandy River Ponds near Saddleback Mountain, with the river continuing through Madrid, Phillips, Avon, Strong, and into Farmington. McLeary Brook in South Strong is at the center of the panel pointing to the vanishing point, beginning just above the Tree Swallow. Temple Stream is just behind the tail of the chickadee while the tail of the Blue Jay is touching Mount Blue Stream, covering Mount Blue Pond. The right side of the panel shows the river just before it enters New Sharon. Mount Blue High School is located under the goldfinch's right side, where the wing meets the body, on the right side of the river to the right of the partial circle of water.

The 2nd panel shows the Sandy River as it makes a 90 degree turn near the Muddy Brook and flows down to another 90 degree turn.

The 3rd panel starts with the Sandy River near the Hale Brook to the north then the Fillibrown Brook to the south, below the nuthatch. Josiah Brook is in the center, pointing to the vanishing point and the Evening Grosbeak. On the right, Lemon Stream points north toward Starks, Indian Stream and Witham Brook are in the lower right corner, under the junco and the Pine Siskin.

The 4th panel shows the Sandy River as it flows between Starks and Norridgewock.

The 5th panel shows the Sandy River just before it flows into the Kennebec, with Hilton Brook pointing to the vanishing point.

The panels begin around midday when the sun is high in the sky and, as they progress, the day turns into dusk, night in the distance.