Art is Life is Art: July – Bird

red bird 490x180

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso

When I shared this watercolor WIP with some creative friends, one asked about my process.    These days getting to art is nothing “pancy” as my sweet little Goddaughter would say.  In my world, getting to art is all about carrying a book and catching ideas, then guarding the time to execute said ideas.

Before I share the details of my process,  I have to tell you that my 5 year old niece, Ruby,  is one of my artist heroes.  She makes incredible amounts of sparkly art, full of color and movement, from her window-walled corner table.


She helped me decorate my travel journal when I stopped at her house on the way to London.  {Note the blue squares and gold chocolate wrappers that she glued in the book for me.}


And this past holiday season, she spent some time down in the studio with me playing and creating.

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It was a delight to watch her work.  She wasn’t worried about how to use materials properly or whether or not there would be more supplies.  She just joyfully made stuff – all kinds of stuff.  She literally hugged her work before during and after its creation.  Even now months later her energy and inspiration still linger in the room as some of her work hangs there and I talk often about her wide open approach.

So, when in the ongoing collaboration with Meghan Arias, we landed on the word BIRD as July’s word, I entered a sequence of thoughts & events that went something like this:

  1. July’s word is Bird… wonder what I’ll post.
  2. I call my kids, “birds”
  3. I call ALL kids, “birds”
  4. When I called niece Ruby a bird, she said, “I’m not a bird; I’m a guurl.”
  5. That Ruby… I love her.
  6. Sentences for poem burst forth into brain.
  7. Run to journal asap and to write words down.
  8. Keep the poem on ice for weeks waiting to paint the perfect watercolor bird.
  9. Kick self into a reality check and just get idea captured.
  10. Put bird with on poem in journal.

My ideal end project is a series of small watercolor paintings that have corresponding poems.  I currently have bits and pieces of poems and sketches for a Morning Bird, a Song Bird, a Wren and an Elusive Bird.  But for now I have a poem and working sketch of a chubby Red Bird.

Red Bird

Ruby eats crayons for breakfast 
and DANCES on a whim.


She reads stories at night 
knowing that she will write her own some day.

She WAVES banners that say 
ARTIST. Dancer. Rubythinker. THE BEST.

She makes declarations that change the world.

She tapes her pictures on the wall; people stop to look and fall in.

She paints flower forests and castles.

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Her crown is always shiny 
and when she hugs her life and sings her ruby songs

People find their own voices.

Red Bird

By | 2016-10-19T14:20:34+00:00 August 17th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|10 Comments

About the Author:

I create containers for words and paint and I fill them. I craft safe, sacred spaces for people to wrestle, create, heal and shout from the mountain tops.
And I teach people to do all of these things for themselves.

  • Nena

    Bets — You sure know how to make me cry. You’ve captured Ruby’s essence with your beautiful words and pictures. Coincidentally, today when I dropped Ruby off at art camp, one of her instructors pulled me aside to tell me how talented and inspired Ruby was. I responded that of course we thought she was extremely artistic but we had nothing to compare her work to… to which the instructor said, “there is no comparison – she just creates…” Ruby still talks about creating art with her Aunt Betsy and we’re looking forward to your visit and more wonderful creations!!

    • Nena – “there is no comparison – she just creates…” I love that. {Can’t wait to see you all!}

  • Elizabeth

    *typing through tears

    So beautiful and spot on!

    • Liz – Every time I share my Ruby stories in workshop I get a little choked up. She’s something else, that Ruby.

  • I don’t know Ruby, but after reading this, I feel like I KNOW her.

    Wonderful, wonderful tribute. We should all have a Ruby in our lives… thank you for sharing yours.

    • Barb – she is a delight! I get to see her in just a few weeks and can’t wait! So glad you enjoyed our Rubydacious. 😉

  • Wonderful insight and inspired information! Ruby’s art is so pure and reminds me of a more simpler time. Thank you for putting yourself “out there” for those of us who need to…

    • Shirley – thank you for stopping by. {And for thinking our Ruby is as fabulous as we do!} p.s. Wow, your silk paintings are so vibrant – full of color and movement. Gorgeous.

  • i love your page

    • Lilas – thank you so much for stopping by! {enjoyed your English posts – very peaceful and colorful}