At the top of the stairs a door opened to my studio. Tall windows flooded the dark loft with light. A freshening breeze blew through open windows, scattering drawings across the studio floor like dry leaves. Once, a Golden Crowned Kinglet, a tiny bird no bigger than a plum, appeared when I opened the door. To help it escape, I cupped it in my hand upside-down. Held this way, the Kinglet was calm and stared at me with quiet reserve, its body in my hand as light as air. A skullcap of black, yellow and red adorned the head of the olive-grey bird, its namesake “Golden-Crown.” What luck to hold something so small and fragile before it disappears – like tracing hoarfrost “lace” at dawn on a windowpane in winter.
Looking at the Kinglet’s tiny, bright eyes in my hand, taught me a lesson. When I saw Goya’s Still Life with Golden Bream, a painting of a pile of dead fish on a table, the eyes of the Golden Bream were not bright like the Kinglet’s, but dull and glazed. There was a difference between the eyes of a dead fish and a live bird and it could be painted.