>Crows & Creation


“Shivering Crow” copyright Kathy Ferrell 2005 all rights reserved
5.25 x 7.75″ ink on Bristol board
illustration for Sherry Decker’s short story “Shivering, We Dance”
Book of Dark Wisdom #6, Summer 2005 Elder Signs Press

You’ll often catch me staring out an upstairs window, coffee cup in hand, looking west toward the river. I am enjoying the antics of a very small murder of crows that have commandeered a huge pine tree on the bank. Though they are only three, one would have difficulty finding a more raucous trio than these. On the best days, they will honor me with a visit to my back window, announcing their arrival with a level of self-confidence that would befit a bald eagle. With cocked head and intelligent eye, they take turns examining me and my art through the window pane.

They are my loudest and most valued critics.  I take these little visits personally. I won’t bore my readers with a seminar on the remarkable intelligence & abilities of these animals, but for a thousand reasons, they fascinate me. The feeling seems oddly mutual, and I feel secretly honored.

Recently researching family history, I was delighted to find that my great-grandmother, (a maid in a wealthy home just before the dawn of the twentieth century), kept a pet crow. Family legend reveals that it’s tongue had been split, enabling it to speak. Grandma spent her young life as simply “Rosie”, dusting, washing, lifting, hauling…all the duties required of an Irish hired girl. Her wedding day portrait shows a young woman wearing what is likely a “last season” dress given her by “Missus”, her one good ivory brooch, and a remarkably determined glint in her eye.


Grandma Rosie
b. 1871 d. 1933

By the time she passed away many years later, she  had found success and become a “Missus” in her own right. A proud, resourceful survivor, possessed of an innate intelligence, impelled to prosper in this bold new land. Watching my ebon art critics today I think of the “someday soon” when I sit down to do my ancestor’s portrait. I will depict her with the crow perched on her hand, two triumphant.

I enjoy depicting my favorite bird so much that one editor jokingly referred to me as “The crow lady” and always called for my services whenever a story came up that required one. At the moment I have a very large oil half-complete depicting one of the “Terrible Trio” perched on my windowsill. I am eager to get back to it, once I get several other projects completed. Often loud, brazen, confident in their opinions and their equality to all they meet, yet almost always misunderstood. I cannot think of a better symbol for an artist. Thank you, Grandma Rosie… and Edgar.


©Kathy Ferrell and “Big Cup O’Blog” (blog about Cup O Swank Studio), 2011.Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kathy Ferrell and Big Cup O’Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



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