Wow! That's all I could say when I held the printed version of my red-shouldered hawk sketchbook in my hand for the first time. It felt like magic. Of course, creating a book isn't magic at all. It's many hours of hard work. But knowing this didn't dampen the impact. In the end, seeing that vision transformed into something solid and real in my hand felt like magic.
The making of a book is a complex endeavor, one that is about patience, communication, and team work, as much as it is about the artist's vision. This little book is life-like in its replication of the sketchbook's size and colors. The colors are so close in fact, that it's hard to tell the difference between the original book and the printed version. And that makes me smile. Matching color is the greatest hurdle you experience while creating a printed reproduction of your art.
Of course, the book is even more of a treasure to me because of the experiences it holds, a quite-by-chance encounter with a nesting pair of red-shouldered hawks leading to many hours of intimate observations, including nesting, copulation, nuptial feedings, and even viewing the bare pink flesh of the female's brood patch through my camera's lens.
And then, there's all that I learned in the process, about me, about sketching in nature, about hawks, their nature and behavior. Even the waiting during dead times required endurance and kept me deeply rooted to the project, making me determined to see it through. And when the wait was over, what the hawks taught me in humility, patience, determination, respect for their space and their nature has now joined the ranks of my significant life lessons, internalized and available for future reference. And if you've ever done this, sketched in nature in challenging circumstances, you'll know what all that got me--a desire to experience this challenge again and again!From observation, to completed sketch, to printed book--a journey of perseverance, fun and hard work. But in the end it all feels like magic.
Creating art is not for the faint of heart. It challenges you inside and out, especially when that art is focused on something real, and alive and moving, and unpredictable. You, the artist, are the same--alive, moving, unpredictable. But you've trained yourself to be still, knowing the treasures that can be found while remaining focused and invisible. And just when you think you might evaporate from the waiting, a hawk appears, opens your heart and heightens all your senses. And a sketch is born, a visual story of all that you've taken in with your senses. Into your heart the hawk flies, and out through your hand and onto the paper.
This is the essence of Red-shouldered Hawk Territory, A sketchbook journey through nesting season--the story of one season's natural wonder through the heart and hand of an artist. I hope it inspires many others to pick up their sketchbook and let their stories unfold.
Links and resources:
To read more about this book and the experiences surrounding it, visit Red-Shouldered Hawk Territory at Vickie Henderson Art, and The Treasure in the Experience at Vickie's Sketchbook. Information about ordering the book can be found here.
You'll find my blog posts with images from Red-shouldered Hawk territory by clicking the link. The last post will appear first. Scroll to the bottom and click "older" to move backward to the first post.