This Artist Creates Deeply Symbolic Paintings of Birds

Josie Morway is a self-taught artist who loves to create photorealistic anthropomorphic paintings of animals. Her expressive portraits of wildlife show beauty and brutality of nature, combined with geometric lines, vignettes of colorful paint and other interesting elements. Morway is most known for her paintings of birds but she sometimes draws wild beasts and plants; succulents and blossoms rise up around the subjects in the picture.

Part of her paintings includes Latin lettering that is remotely connected to old mottos of yore. She references also religious symbols in her compositions and reproduces the style of classic historic painting, but replaces saints and heroes with birds and other wildlife. And she insists she prefers the emotion to authenticity but relies on untold, unfinished stories that are open to beholder’s interpretation.

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Weekend! With time to breathe, but also to steep in our country's dreadful news. After another horrific week of gun violence I find myself wondering about the How… not even the important How of political momentum, cultural change and all of the hard work we need to put in, but the simple and personal How; how to go on without either becoming "numb to the terror" or lying awake contorted in a giant dry-heave of silent screaming for the rest of my life. I don't post her a lot but I have a daughter, and caring about a child can bring more vigilant dread than I expected… so How to carry on? The answers change daily, but today the idea that's popped into my head is simply that I have to Give Up. To give up my vanity, my jealousy, my fretting and churning, give up my petty weights and measures, my consumerism, my striving, my regrets, my doubts, give up my time-sucks, my exhaustions, my show-offs, my hesitations, my impatience, my avoidance, my annoyance, my clock-watching, my denials, give up my calculations, my grudges, my nerves, my overthinks, my fear itself. Basically give up and throw away everything that isn't joy or kindness. Shouldn't we? Because none of that stuff is going to help to fix or prevent the horror. And if the horror does come for us, as it sometimes seems bent on doing, then none of that stuff will have been a worthy use of our short, bright lives. • And what do you all do to keep caring without cracking? • • (Also call your representatives) #guncontrol

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Received such a nice letter today about this painting today, and about the intensity of the pupils (which an owl can control instantly and independently), leading me to revisit the piece. This owl seems to be focusing on something just behind you… but rest assured, it is about to make unapologetic eye contact. I think of the subjects in my paintings as visitors, messengers, and I find the intensity of their unblinking, wild gaze to be a comfort. At the same time I'm fine with the idea that it might be discomfiting to others :: the wild gaze strips you bare and asks just what you think you're doing. So I'm curious :: Do you find having the eyes of the wilderness turned upon you soothing, or unsettling?

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