As Lucky and I walked past Mr. M’s pond, we saw a heron standing on one of the stepping stones. We moved a little closer to look at it. After a few moments, it flew off to the far side of the pond where two heron sculptures, patina-green, stood in the water nearby. The real heron stood in the grass. It was gray, blending in with a tree behind it.
The heron probably flew off because we came too close. It probably stood still in hopes that we would go away. But it looked as if it went over there to hang out with the other two herons. I thought, okay, I have seen my magical thing for today.
Now, every time we walk by, Lucky looks to see if the heron is there. So do I.
Here is the original scribble I put in my notebook, so I would remember the image:
Here are some thoughts that came to mind between then and now, including while I made the little painting:
— “Life imitates Art.” (I looked this up, but it was more philosophical than I was in the mood to be. “Anti-mimesis,” if you are interested.)
— Maybe the heron was attracted to the heron shapes. Lucky can spot a dog-shape blocks away. Fake owls scare away crows. For a little while. (update, 10/28: a friend just pointed out to me that this is what duck decoys are all about. 🙂 )
— “One of these things is not like the other things.” (from Sesame Street.)
— Composition. I recently read Gary D. Schmidt‘s Okay for Now, which I really enjoyed. However, my understanding of composition, or how a picture is constructed, is pretty different from that of the guy who works in the library and teaches Doug Swieteck about the Audubon prints. When I was in college, there was a class where we drew triangles and arrows and stuff like that, but it’s not how I think about making a picture. What interested me was the three very similar shapes, so ovoid and solid, standing equidistant, with variations:
I liked the curve of the pond edge. The contrast between artificial and real. Also when I was in college, I had a drawing teacher who would point to something in my drawing and say, “If you went into a shape shop, would you buy that shape?” It sounds kind of silly, but I still ask myself that question.