Our Crow Almanac Hangs in the Birds of Vermont Museum

We are so pleased to have our latest Almanac (With Crows) in the Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington, Vermont.

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The Almanac takes its place in the company of other lovely avian artworks.

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A typical exhibit. All the birds in the museum were hand-carved exquisitely by the late Bob Spears.

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Our work will be on display there until October, giving us and others plenty of time to enjoy the museum and its amazing environs.

The Huntington Gorge, a nearby splendor to behold.

The Huntington Gorge, a nearby splendor to behold.

When Crows Came To Stay

In February the crows came to stay.

If you were to look more closely at our almanacs from February and March, you might notice the winged and feathered influence of a certain bird from the family corvidae.

detail from Almanac #5a March

detail from Almanac #5a March

 

Yes, we are talking about the American Crow, or Corvus Brachyrhynchos—perhaps the canniest and certainly the creepiest of birds.

In our February and March almanacs, crows proliferate. They take flight and respite. Their wings bear brushstrokes, words, and occasionally, omens. Their history and behavior serve as inspiration for poems, puzzles, and more.

detail from Almanac #5b Almanac with Crows

detail from Almanac #5b Almanac with Crows

 

So where, when and how did the crows become central to our canvases? Okay, we’ll tell you.

In the late afternoon on February 5th, a great commotion brought all of the Chaneys (plus dog) hurrying to our windows. What looked to be hundreds of crows swirled like a living, feathered cyclone above a neighboring pine tree. We had never seen so many crows in one place at one time.

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After a little research, we concluded we were witnessing a mega roost. Common in winter, these crow parties boast big numbers, often in the thousands. Although it may look and sound like these roosting birds are auditioning for roles in a Hitchcock remake, they are just settling down for the night. Crows who roost together tend to be safer from predators. And hey, that would have to be one brave owl to attack 144,000 crows!

 

Here are three examples of how we honored the crows in our almanacs:

1)   Asemic Writing

Ink on canvas and paint splatter (the latter created by very controlled flicking of the brush). The legible writing gets smaller and smaller, till it is indistinguishable from a flock of distant birds.

detail from Almanac #5a

detail from Almanac #5a

 

2)   Shaped Poetry

We used cardstock paper and exacto knifes to make our own bird-shaped stencils for writing.

This exercise is great for writers who want to explore the visual appeal of their written words.

detail from Almanac #4 February

detail from Almanac #4 February

 

3)   Shaped Poetry, Plus

Another take on a similar idea. Here we take the crow shape and make it the ground for words. These word-birds are set against a background of oil paint and newspaper collage.

detail from Almanac #4 February

detail from Almanac #4 February

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We love nothing better than to draw inspiration from the daily.

This day was no exception. The crows left their mark on our canvases.