Blog: Crows

Christine Alfery

Posted on October 05 2020

Crow Blog paintng

Featured image: Wisdom


Lately, as I listen to nature and the earth, I have been visited by 3 crows. I didn’t know they were crows at first – I had to research the difference between a crow, a black bird and a raven. The main differences are the color of their beaks and their size. 

crow blog image

As shown in my recent blogs and works, there have been several incredibly special events happening in the woods lately. The cayote, two foxes, and now the crows. When I first saw the crows, they were perched on to top of a dead tree in the woods. Their black bodies shone in high contrast to the grey sky and barren branches. Soon they came down from the trees and I saw them around the feeders. 


blog crows in tree image


I looked up crows online. I wanted to learn more than their scientific names and features – I wanted to know how they were representative in mythology. Many people think of death when they think of the crow:

“The crow is elected above the normal system of life and given a power over the animals it oversees. Even if the crow is not directly responsible for death or involved in the decomposition of dead things, his appearance in literature and myth is often a symbolic representation of tragedy.”>bc-ir:102331>PDF>view

But I also learned they have different meanings to different people:

“The meaning of the Crow symbol signifies wisdom. According to Native American legends and myths some tribes believed that the Crow had the power to talk and was therefore considered to be one of the wisest of birds. The sacred bird of the famous Ghost Dance was the crow.”

I live on a Native American Indian reservation, so I am thinking of my visiting crows in the way Native American legends have portrayed them. And I decided to paint one. 


single crow in tree blog image

In the past I have tried - and miserably failed - to paint crows. I think I failed because generally I don’t paint much with black. I used to think of black as a depressing color, a sad color not a happy color so I usually avoided black. Recently I have been researching artists who use black as a dominate color and I decided to take up the challenge again. So, I began to paint a crow. Timid at first, I began as I usually do with watercolor washes – but I was worried about getting proportions correct. I always worry like this when I try and capture something representational.


Christine in studion


After the wash, I found I had the proportions correct – it was kind of a nice representation of a crow. I liked the transparent watercolors. I continued making my blacks exciting by infusing them with blues and teals and purples. As I stood back and looked at the washes, I knew they were ok – but just ok my heart said, it is not done - so I worked on. 

Wisdom painting detail

In the end I wanted a major contrast between black and white, while still allowing the crow’s beautiful blues and teals and purples to shine through, so I added a yellow full moon for mystery. I topped it off by adding a key – representing the crows’ ability to unlock wisdom. 

Wisdom aka Crow by Christine Alfery

I will continue to follow my heart and paint things from the earth that I see and feel.

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