I live and work in Santa Cruz, California, on the northern tip of the Monterey Bay, and over the summer I was invited to participate in an upcoming show about the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Thinking back to a previous heron piece I had done, I focused on our wetlands and the wide variety of wildlife found there, including herons, egrets and raptors. Researching great blue herons (Ardea herodias), I settled in on a single element of their elaborate courtship display wherein they extend their neck so high that the bird would seem to be in danger of falling over backwards.
Herons and egrets appeal to me mainly for their unlikely form… football-shaped body atop stilt legs, their neck often coiled into an s-shape. They hold stock-still while hunting and jab their long, pointed beak out at lightning-speed to catch their prey. They look as though they could not fly (and yet they do!). I’ve seen one flying low in the trees near my house, always on the periphery of my vision (“what is that thing!?!”), and by the time I can properly focus on it it’s already gone. Strange to see such a large bird in flight. I was intrigued with the idea that I can see them for only a split second, as they fly overhead or as I drive past the slough, a mirage or vision of some sort.
This large encaustic painting is one of my two pieces in the show that came out of that inspiration. The show, Monterey Bay: Land, Air & Sea, is now hanging at the Pajaro Valley Arts Council Gallery in Watsonville, California.