The Blackbird

Several times this week I have gone across the road to a little spot amongst the trees at the edge of Jersey Farm Woodland Park, where I sketched a little while ago, using the sketches to paint the big acrylic on paper entitled ‘A Walk in the Woods’. This time I decided to take a small canvas and easel, and paint the same scene in oils.

I love the moment of stepping into the trees, even though it is very close to where I live, there is a magical sense of being in another place altogether. And despite hearing the groan of lorries and the rush of cars going by only a few yards away, there is a wonderful sense of peace and stillness.

I set to and put brush to canvas, there is a rustle in the leaves above and as I continue to paint I am aware of a bird, I think it is a blackbird, trying valiantly to get at the rowan berries, he is using his wings spread out to balance and peering up I can see he is on one leg. The other leg is bent round as if it is broken or deformed. He is struggling but managing to get some berries to eat. Then he flies down and sits on the ground just a few feet away from me, watching me intently with bright beady eyes.

He sits there for some time while I continue to paint, and I feel a quiet sense of companionship with this solitary little creature.

I returned several times to complete the painting, and each time he was there in the same place. The last time I went I couldn’t see him and it was strangely quiet and I began to think of all the things that might have happened, then there was a whoosh and he was there again, finding some berries and then coming and sitting nearby and watching me!

‘A Walk in the Woods’ Oil on canvas.

Woodland studio!

Sunday, August 12th. I have been back and sketched this scene again on the last page of my sketchbook.

I hoped I might see the blackbird again, but there was no sign of him. He has gone.


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