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Riding Solo

Humanity has found itself divided. Literally. We’re all hiding in our separate spaces, maintaining a healthy distance from one another. On a larger level though, we’re all coming together, doing our part to beat back the threat at the door. Covid-19 has spread across the world. This is undoubtedly a time when fear and loneliness are easy to find, but we can also use this opportunity to find our center.

Bluejay visits pond.

This is a chance for us to remember what is really important in life. Health is one obvious answer—the importance of our own health, the health of our family and friends, the health of strangers bound to us through community, and yes, the health of our planet.

I’m lucky to be spending my time in isolation in a house with a large backyard—a nice sized space at the back of a cul-de-sac with several large pines and a beautiful, tall locust. At the back of the yard my wife has built a stone pond and waterfall. Blue Jays sometimes come here to feed and drink. They’re an aggressive bird and aren’t afraid to take their place at the water. I love watching them.

While waiting for the world to restart, I’m using the additional studio time to draw this beautiful bird. It’s part of my Aviary Nouveau series which blends both realistic and stylistic elements. I’m not a healthcare worker. (Believe me, they have my most earnest thoughts and prayers). What I am is an artist and creating, even in the face of tragedy, is what I can do. Birds are creatures both of earth and sky—emissaries to the heavens. I’m sending up this one as my prayer for healing.

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Men in Holes


We come from darkness. We come from the earth.
And it’s where we’ve been heading since the moment of birth.

Escape is in our nature. We struggle from the womb, riding the waves of contractions to our first taste of air. The sunlight helps us grow stronger and taller and farther away.

Men in Holes

charcoal and pastel

But our feet were built to stay on the earth, toes curling into the soil like roots. Sturdy legs to bare the weight of a lifetime, standing like stalks, building at the pace of cellular growth.

We look upward into the blue and we dream, and the light above, though beautiful, blinds us.

What we can’t see is that we have never left our holes.

Arms flail. Hands grasp. We stretch our bodies upward like contortionists toward a place high above where only the eye can go. Where only the mind can go. Where only the soul can go.

Hush little baby don’t say a word,
Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.

Let her assure you, this woman who held you deep inside, that this hole need not be your grave. You are not the rot and decay that they will find there. You are above. Shot out like a flock of larks into the morning light.

These birds have the right idea—dream it, and it is so.