Friday, May 1, 2009

Birds Birds Birds!!!

"Everyone wants to understand painting. Why is there no attempt to understand the song of the birds?"
Pablo Picasso


This was a little sketch I did months ago of birds flying over Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia). I wasn't really that pleased with the painting, but many people love the energy of this one. I may try to repaint this one before the show if I am inspired enough to do so! this week I've picked up the paint brush and gotten back into birds.

This week, the Webbs parted for Greece. It was sad to see them go. Parents of a high school friend of mine from my hometown, having them around Istanbul was like having family visit. I gave Jan a copy of the Blue Mosque print. Ralph, looking at a few other pantings, observed, "You sure like to paint birds."

I hadn't really thought about it before. In fact, I am quite scared of painting birds. If you get them wrong, they look really really, tragically wrong.

But lately, watching birds come and go from the roof next door, I have been observing seagulls, pigeons and crows, and a few sparrow like birds as well. I never really noticed that pigeons have red eyes, or that seagulls fly with their legs flopping down, not like the little airborn torpedos sparrows can be.

So here are two paintings this week, both including birds. Thanks for the inspiration, Ralph!


At night, the mosques are illuminated all around Istanbul with big spot lights aimed upwards along the walls. It apparently confuses the seagulls however, who, suffering from light pollution don't understand that it's time to sleep. When the call to prayer comes, there is usually a giant burst of seagulls fleeing the roof, where they may have found a dark corner to rest.


Next to the Blue Mosque in the Hippodrome, there are a group head-scarved ladies that sell bird feed in little dishes to tourists who in turn feed the numerous fat pigeons who gather there. These women can be found all over Istanbul in front of mosques and squares, wherever pigeons gather. I have never seen seagulls gather along with the pigeons to peck at the bird seed on the ground, so there is a little artistic license included here! this painting gave me a lot of trouble, but Rene's artistic guidance and critical eye helped me save it. But like children, the ones who give you the most trouble often end up your favourite.

XX Melanie


  1. "But like children, the ones who give you the most trouble often end up your favourite."

    Haha! You only say that because of all the trouble you gave mom and dad! ;-)

  2. I was actually thinking about you. ; )

  3. I love your birds! And your paintings in general.

  4. Thanks, Kate! Rene mentioned you wrote her about them. I know Glen is a master artist so I may have a few questions for him if he's interested in answering them! I am busy painting fishermen this week but not sure what I think about the one I am working on now. Should be up on the blog soon enough! ; )

  5. Glenn says he'd be happy to try to answer any questions.

    I think your paintings would be great on a wall, in a book or on greeting cards. Let me know if you ever get cards made.

  6. I do love your work, Melanie. I'm undecided about the birds. I always think of the old adage that the sultanahmet gulls are the souls of drowned concubines and the birds don't quite fit the fantasy... but that's because of my preconception. Boris

  7. Mel,

    We love the birds and will be looking for more.

    Love Ralph and Jan

  8. er, yeh v nyc n all.