Monday, April 21, 2014


At one magical instant in your childhood, the page of a book - that string of confused, alien ciphers - shivered into meaning.  Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened.  You became, irrevocably, a reader.

Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading

Owls, linked with darkness, were once considered frightening - serving in myths as guardians of the underworld.   They were  believed to have the gift of prophecy.  Supposedly the hooting of an owl predicted the death of Julius Caesar.

Alternately, they can be cast in the more appealing role of representing intelligence and learning.

In this drawing the Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) represents wisdom.  It rests in the night sky behind a heap of books that deal with birds and insects.  Although they are not identified by titles they are all actually books from my library.  Among the volumes  is the field guide to Damselflies of Texas, written by John Abbott of UT Austin and illustrated by Barrett Klein.  One of my artist's books, a collaboration with Bill Harris, appears in the upper left with a stag beetle on the cover.

The remarkable, articulated, silver, praying mantis pin was made by Ricky Boscarino.  The ceramic owl came out of a package of Red rose tea and the plastic rooster on wheels was brought to me from India.

Living with the owl is the owl butterfly (genus Caligo) displaying its underwings which imitate the bird so amazingly well.  The astral object near the bird's head is  the Owl Nebula which resides in the cup of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major).  Also depicted is the now obsolete constellation Noctua which was once placed at the end of the tail of the constellation Hydra.  Athene noctua is a small owl associated with the goddess Athena.  It is known to live on the Acropolis in Athens.

This drawing is the second in the series of the Life of Birds and Insects.