Sunday, September 13, 2009


"(The crow) is a great thief and hoarder of curiosities, hiding in holes, corners and crevices, every loose article he can carry off..." A.B. Strong, M.D. 1853

"He does not confine himself to petty depredations on the pantry or larder; he soars at more magnificent plunder; at spoils that he can neither exhibit nor enjoy; but which, like a miser, he rests satisfied with having the satisfaction of sometimes visiting and contemplating in secret. A piece of money, a teaspoon, or a ring, are always tempting and if not watched, will carry to his favorite hole." George Louis leClerc, count of Buffon

Before I knew that the drawing with the crow was to be a cabinet it was an homage to the collecting instinct of these remarkable birds. For the purposes of stories and drawings it is not a problem if that proclivity might only be a myth. It is a wonderful idea which conjures up all sorts of images and plots. In this case I have stolen many little objects from my own collection and given them to my bird. They are laid out for viewing; they range from bones and fossils to brass objects from India and Africa and contemporary buttons made by Windsor, Ontario artist Susan Gold.

Behind the crow is a yellow background, a color that I have been told will attract bees. This seems to be the case as the insects are there. They have arranged themselves in a regular pattern, like wallpaper.

Surrounding the central picture space are more birds that are common to Michigan. All of the specimens were drawn at the Exhibit Museum of Natural History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The drawing is all about collections. The one belonging to the crow, the Michigan birds from a collection at the University, and finally bees and a few other insects drawn from the insect boxes that, to my advantage, remain at home while our son Barrett, the entomologist, is away furthering his education.

When I finished this drawing I had the inspiration for a series of drawings that would be hung together and emulate a cabinet. The second drawing for that group has to do with mammals and will be described in my next post.

The following documents the contents of the Crow's door.

2 starfish
cast aluminum starfish (from a tic tac toe set)
cast aluminum sand dollar (from the same set)
Ashanti bronze gold weight in the form of an alligator
Brass turtle, scorpion and fly from India
2 buttons made by Susan Gold
3 contemporary glass beads and 2 African trading beads
2 Woodland Indian arrowheads and a drill point
Frosted blue glass canning lid
Granite sample and tile sample from a kitchen renovator
2 pieces of frosted sea glass and 3 smooth glass bits
shell with blue interior
crynoid stem
bird bone and fish bone
fossilized shark's vertebrae
sea anemone spine
2 pieces of Chinese jade

Eastern crow Corvus brachrynchos
Common grackle Quiscalus quiscula
Downy woodpecker Picoides pubescens
clockwise starting at bottom left
Spotted sandpiper Actitis macularia
Oven bird Seiurus aurocapillus
Grey crested flycatcher Empidonax wrightii
Red breasted nuthatch Sitta canadensis
Yellow bellied sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
Red winged blackbird Agelarius phoeniceus
Hairy woodpecker Picoides villosus
Northern mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Yellow billed cuckoo Coccyzus americanus
Black bellied plover Pluvialis squatarola


  1. great quotes! thank you for including the list of contents in the crow drawing -- i could use a similar list for the bird stone drawing!

  2. Oh I absolutely LOVE this! Gorgeous!!

    Lily @ larder cupboard