Landscape with Yellow Birds

Posted by on Mar 18, 2010 in Visual Inspiration, What I am up to, Written Inspiration | 6 comments

It is dark outside, the dogs and the kids are asleep, Steve headed off for the train to work and I am painting. Ah, I am painting.

This morning is it three letter words, a concept that I have worked with for about six years. Mighty little words. Today my words are “ART” and “SKY”, and I am looking up imagery for each of those words. Here are my canvases so far.

Only the "A" is finished.

Only the "A" is finished.

Close up you can see my bird's eye map.

Close up you can see my bird's eye map.

In searching for imagery for the word “SKY” both in my head and in all the books strewn around my studio, I suddenly remember a poem I found a few years ago when I was working with the same word. It is written by a Japanese poet, Shuntaro Tanikawa, (translated by Harold Wright, date unknown but probably 1960s). Coincidentally, Paul Klee has a painting he made in 1923 with the same name, Landscape with Yellow Birds. I present them to you here.


Shuntaro Tanikawa (1931-    )

there are birds
so there is sky
there is sky
so there are balloons
there are balloons
so children are running
children are running
so there is laughter
there is laughter
so there is sadness
so there is prayer
and ground for kneeling
there is ground
so water is flowing
and there’s today and tomorrow
there is a yellow bird
so with all colors forms and movements
there is the world

I am working on acceptance right now, and this poem speaks to me. There it is, just as it is, and we have to find the dreamy, beautiful parts as we sometimes wade through sadness. Here I am, painting in my own studio, and tomorrow I have to go and say goodbye to an 18 year old friend who died in a car. For now, I will find the beauty and gift of art here in my studio, while it is dark outside.


  1. OMG Jill. The eternal circle of life keeps her promise, but it can be so incredibly difficult to embrace the lose of those we love, the lose of those so young, the empty space between here and there. Love, Kathy

  2. Thank you Jill for sharing your words, your story, your art, your passion…and your sorrow. I too believe we are all connected, even in the darkness. with love…

  3. I am sorry Jill.

  4. My deepest sympathy. It’s always healing when we can bring ourselves to create.

  5. I am so sorry about your loss. Somehow I came across your blog today and I read this poem. I was told yesterday that I will be loosing my mom to cancer. So this poem spoke to me also. Thanks for sharing this poem through your blog and art.

  6. Hi Jill
    I used this painting when my daughter was dying, I felt the birds were birds of sorrow. I did a piece of art which consisted of one of the birds made of steel standing in clear perspex. I then made a wooden box a bit like a grave stone painted it grey stood my bird at the front and inserted a sheet of perspex engraved with shadowey figures. I needed to tell you this as it has been five years now and I have still got the bird. The bird is me and I am about to fly into a new way of life which is not so sad.

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