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October Birthdays

My grandson, Teddy, was born by caesarian section. When he was really little, well, bigger than this,

a baby boy

he asked his mom for some details about his birth.

Where did they cut you so I could get out of your tummy?

She pointed to her side.

Didn't that hurt? he asked.

No, they give you medicine so it doesn't hurt.

And when did that happen?

October 16th.

On My Birthday?!

A birthday is always cause for celebration and this month we have many celebrations.

Eleanor Roosevelt, for one; First Lady of the world, born October 11, 1884. Here is her statue, standing in Riverside Park at 72nd Street. She, that is her statue, was spotted a while ago wearing a mask. Well, of course, she would have worn a mask. What did she say?

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

And..."The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

Arch with statue of Eleanor Roosevelt

My cousin Tom was born on October 31, Hallowe'en. I imagine when he was little he thought everyone gave out candy in honor of him! Also born in October--Picasso, John Lennon, and Chuck Berry.

AND, my brother Rob, October 22. He started out as a press photographer, and I'm sure you've seen his shot of Bernie Sanders celebrating his victory as Mayor of Burlington, VT.

But now Rob shoots birds.

Heron in flight, golden sea

Robin catching a worm, reflected in a puddle

head shot of a cardinal

silhouette of a heron in a tree

Hawk in flight

He's good, isn't he? I've saved a lot of his images with a thought of copying them--rather, using his images as inspiration and incorporating them into my own work. Should I ask him first or surprise him? I've also studied John James Audubon; I think Rob is an Audubon for our time. I'm sure the birds themselves much prefer Rob's technique, as Audubon killed his models and pinned them into "lifelike" poses.

Watercolor, Pen & Ink pelican by a window

Pen & Ink, etching, watercolor, Pelican and angel

Both of these pelicans are taken from Audubon. What word should I use here--copied? borrowed? inspired by? You tell me.

Audubon's Brown Pelican

Audubon's white Pelican

I'd say I'm a shameless thief. But Frank Mason, revered teacher at the Art Students League said, "If you take from another artist be sure to steal it. If you borrow you have to give it back."

This is what Rob says.

"Mother Nature is an extraordinary artist. I am honored to plagiarize her."

Blue Jay in flight

October 15, 2020

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