"The Ornithologist" Original Oil
By Michael Steddum
Years ago my wife and I lived in Wisconsin in an old farmhouse. Every morning, you would wake up and see a beautiful view out every window. I had binoculars at each window because there was always something to see and I didn’t want to scramble around the house looking for a pair when the bird or animal was right in front of me. I knew we were lucky to live this way and I learned just how lucky when we moved away to Missouri and lived in the suburbs. No longer could I look out a window and see a multitude of birds who were trained for years to know that we would feed them, or a beautiful view for that matter. I didn’t realize how much thinking I did standing at those windows contemplating and solving issues of the day. It was a different air I breathed now. In order to solve this problem, I took old windows and built sills and molding’s for them. I set them up on sawhorses in a beautiful setting and started to paint something I wanted to look out my window at. Now I could stand in front of a window and find the same sensation that I once had living in the country. Being an old birder, I had to paint the view that I missed for too long. Each item in this painting has a personal meaning. The hydrangea flowers come from a potted plant that I gave to my wife for birthday flowers one year. Not being the type of person to let things go to waste, she planted this pot in our backyard, which now gives us cuttings each year, The book is an autographed copy of, Western Birds by Roger Troy Peterson that he signed for me shortly before his passing. He was a childhood hero of mine and is responsible for my fascination with birds. The binoculars were the very first pair I purchased for camping trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The BWCA is a place I would trek to a couple of times of years when I was younger. Finally, the old Vanilla bottle is one of the first glass vessels I ever painted. My wife cuts little flowers and places them in it on the kitchen window sill. I have more feathers in glass vessels than a person should but I find them interesting.
Most of my paintings have a story about people that is short and sweet, but this painting is a very personal story, encompassing over half a century of life and experiences.