This is the day that I was helping clean out a studio with another artist, and a hummingbird flew into the giant building and couldn't find his way out. This was important, because we were going to fog and didn't want to hurt the little bird with any fumes.
After buzzing around for maybe twenty minutes, the poor thing fell behind a large shelf that needed to be climbed on with a fifteen foot ladder just to peek around and look for its tiny dust and cobweb covered body. I eventually found it and cleared off the webs from its feathers, and took it back down the ladder with me, but it wasn't moving at all.
That's when I realized that it had literally spent all of its carbohydrate energy supply trying to buzz around, looking for a way out, and really would probably die if just left there. I didn't know what to do but remembered that hummingbirds drink nectar so I ran to the kitchen and diluted a little bit of honey with warm water, ran out and lifted a spoon to the very tip of this little bird's long and tapered beak.
Within about thirty seconds of drinking, it shot up, fully on, like a little engine. It turned and looked at me, then at the other person who was helping, and shot over the tree line all in a fraction of a second.
That was an awesome feeling, an awesome little set of adventures that made a studio a little cleaner, and met a wonderfully amazing little bird as well.
How I Made this Artwork
Hummingbird Drinking Honey Water started out as a pencil sketch in my moleskine journal, mainly trying to convey the shapes of hands and the spoon, which still stood out to me quite vividly from the whole incident.
I used watercolor to block in the main colors, and tried to remember the best I could exactly how the hummingbird was colored, but that moment was so intense dealing with saving the little creature's life, that I really had to design my own composition to capture the emotion.
The gracefullness was something that I really wanted to capture in this painting, and I wanted to balance out the importance of the humminbird and the feeding hands. I chose to draw the hands so that the bird was highest in view, with a gentle tilt to suggest the bird's own volition and will.
The most astonishing aspect of drawing the hummingbird, however, unlike any other bird I had previously drawn or painted, was its beak. A hummingbird's beak is one of the most graceful things you'll ever see if you get the chance. It's very much like a limb, opening on the very end with a bending motion like a living trumpet. I recalled that so vividly and really tried to make its delicate drinking the emphasis of this painting.
Thinking about a Gift for Someone Special?
[Hummingbird Drinking...] to me is very powerful and symbolic on so many levels. This was the first time that I helped save a birds life. There were many moments in my childhood growing up with dogs and cats that I got to pour hydrogen pyroxide on a cut after a cat brawled with a neighbor's cat or like the time one of our dogs tried to climb a fence and got her poor leg cut by the chain link.
This moment and this painting are unique to me, and really stimulate a lot of feelings of spirituality and uncommon love that is shown between creatures.
There was something very shocking about holding such a delicate creature in my hands, and feeling like it was about to die, and then, suddenly, realizing that the smallest effort to help, saved its life.
I would give this art to any bird lover in my life, definitely. But also, I would think that anyone who's ever been helped by a small act that's proven to be incredibly significant later in their life, possibly even having their life saved by a small act of kindness, would appreciate this art.
Also, if the person you're thinking about getting a gift for has themselves experienced the joy and fulfillment that comes from truly helping someone else - That, to me, is where this moment and this painting really is significant, because it was really like saving this little birds life was really a symbol of saving my own life, as if it gave back to me a magic and spirit of being alive and flying to our highest levels of self, that I hadn't felt as powerfully since my own childhood.
Art Materials and Supplies that Made this Art
I needed the following art supplies to make this painting:
Staedtler Lumograph Drawing Pencil 2B,
Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Compact Set ( A trusty tool in the kit for almost every adventure in which I may find myself wanting to paint something, be it a walk, a roadtrip, or motorcycle adventure),
Moleskine Moleskine Art Plus Sketchbook, A3, Black, Hard Cover (16.5 x 12) (Professional Folio Series),
and my Wacom Intuos Pro.
I've found that almost any subject can be tackled with just the first three tools (pencil, pad, and watercolors), and I was very happy with the way they really helped me capture a deeply inspirational moment in my life!