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Wood Stork Study No. 1 (Marilyn)

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

5 X 7" OIL & COLD WAX ON GESSOBORD




I’VE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT WOOD STORKS — LIKE CERTAIN INDIGENOUS TRIBES, MIGHT BELIEVE THAT PHOTOGRAPHS STEAL THEIR SOUL 


There's a gang of them that hang out like thugs at the Hungry Howie's near my house just waiting to be thrown pieces of food. I don't know who gives it to them. I've never seen anyone do it. They've got my number though. They know I won't give them food. I just photograph them.


THEY SEE ME COMING AND CAN'T WALK AWAY SLOWLY ENOUGH


They don't move quickly. It's kind of creepy actually. Everyone who comes out the door of the pizza place gets mobbed in slow motion by the storks. Me, they kind of move away in a slow-motion mob. They know I have no food. But yet I'm moving toward them with my camera and they aren't sure what this is all about. They just know that it doesn't involve food and they want nothing to do with it. 


Wood Storks are quite large, if they stretch to their full height, a male will be over 4' tall easily and their wingspan is massive too. I've never measured but watching them come in for a landing on top of the Hungry Howie's sign is well, bizarre.


They congregate in large groups in treetops which is a strange sight as well. And their legs, the way they bend backward when they go to scratch their heads is just adorable. If you're one of those people (like me) that can sometimes confuse vaguely creepy and adorable.




They're all attitude which is probably another reason I love them so much. Also because I can't look at them and not be reminded of the plague doctors of the middle ages (I don't know why I've added this to the plus category).


They're just so strangely compelling, especially when perched high up in the trees on those long knobby legs. Everyone else around here likes the pink Spoon Bills and the beautiful Sand Hill Cranes and the Herons and oh yeah, for sure, they're amazing but these crazy, little food bullies kill me. I can't get enough of them.



Stomping his feet because he's annoyed with me. Notice: no motion blur - this took ten seconds per foot.


When they get super annoyed with me taking their picture (after about 30 seconds) they'll move lazily a good two feet away from me, never bothering to move more than that or God forbid ever fly away and then slowly and slothfully stomp one foot and then the other, taking literally a good ten seconds to do a full foot stomp of a single foot. Sometimes they'll slowly open and close their beaks. And they do that so slowly it looks like they're choking on something. It's honestly so disturbing to watch I just have to leave.



This is the guy I call Crazy Bread. He's the most food crazy and suspect of cameras (this pic captures him so well) I so badly want to paint those feathers. And he so badly wants me not to. 


I feel so bad that I'm annoying them so much that I can't stand it. They're so dramatic. I can never stay more than a couple minutes, I just feel too guilty they just carry on so much, in slow motion. But it's a lot to take in. I really hate doing it, annoying them. But I love them, I love painting them and I need reference. I try explaining it to them, that I'm a painter and they're my models, my muses, you'd think they'd care, that it would mean something but no. It seems to annoy them more when I speak.


SOMETIMES THE STORK I CALL MARILYN BLOCKS THE DOOR TO MY PHARMACY, WHICH IS NEXT DOOR TO THE PIZZA PLACE. YOU HAVE TO KIND OF SHOO HER OUT OF THE WAY. SHE COMES RIGHT BACK AGAIN AND STARES IN THE DOOR. IT'S HARD TO TELL IF SHE'S LOOKING INTO THE BLACK WINDOW AT HER REFLECTION LIKE NARCISSUS OR SHE'S AFTER A LITTLE SOMETHING MORE UM, INTERESTING


Marilyn staring in the door of my Pharmacy which is next door to the pizza place. The males are all outside the pizza place - but here she is. You can't make this shit up.



I call her Marilyn because when the wind blows her feathers fly up like Marilyn Monroe's white dress in the Seven Year Itch (not because of the pharmacy thing - that obsession of hers happened later, oddly and rather hauntingly). She is a beauty though. The males are never far away from her. I have video of her pacing and spinning like she's on the catwalk.