Why Birds?

When guests visit the studio, I often hear the phrase, “Why birds?” or “Wow, you must really like birds?” I usually get these comments because one look around the studio, and you’ll see lots of paintings with birds in them.

Ok, I’ll admit it. I AM a bird nerd. In fact, my paintings have earned the moniker Murty Birdies from a few friends.

© Nancy Murty | Mr. and Mrs. | 8×10 in | oil on linen | sold

So, where and why did my love of drawing and painting birds begin? Where most things start…in childhood.

As a young girl, I often spent weekends with my paternal grandparents in New York state’s Southern Tier region. Living anywhere in New York State and not being from the city is a curse all of us suffer — No, not all NYers are from New York City — and the Southern Tier region is most definitely not New York City. It’s on the opposite side of the state from NYC, very mountainous, rural, and beautiful — for those wondering.

Let’s get back to Grandma’s house — during the colder months when we were stuck inside, my sister and I would utter those all too familiar words, “I’m bored!” One day grandma set a stack of paper and a huge assortment of accumulated colored pencils down in front of us and said: “Here, draw the birds at the feeder.” And that was it! Her simple act to keep a little girl quiet — started it all. I’ve been drawing ever since. Little did she know the path she would start me down that day or where it would take me.

Holding a Common Yellow-Throat at Braddock Bay Bird Observatory.
Feeding a Black-Capped Chickadee at Mendon Ponds Park.

Over the following years, learning the bird varieties and their songs was a point of conversation, bringing me closer to my grandfather and my own father. Birds have led to volunteering at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory, which has led to meeting new friends.

Being what I first learned to draw and a way of connecting with others, birds continue to hold a special place in my heart and lasting admiration for the beautiful woman who started me on my life path of art.

So now you’ve heard my story. It’s only fair that I know a little about you. I would love to know what got you started down the path of your passions and hobbies? Who introduced you to golf, turned you on to the road of music, ignited a love of knitting, quilting, reading, computers, or whatever brings you joy and peace? Please share in the comments below.


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9 Comments

  1. My mom taught my sister and me to craft for as long as I can remember. During our early years, she was a stay-at-home mom and taught us to bake, knit, crochet and needlepoint. My sister is a wonderful knitter and to this day, Mom crochets daily. I never stopped doing needlework from then on. After needlepoint, I went through a cross stitch phase, working with smaller and smaller thread count. Then I found paper embroidery. I’ve made thousands of things, and am not one iota even close to being board.

    Both of our grandmothers were quite crafty and especially loved quilting. A whole bunch of years back, Gretchen and I made a full size quilt for each of our parents. My paternal grandmother was the school’s head lunch lady and also did catering. Gretchen and I helped her make favors sometimes. My most vivid memory is Granny teaching us to make hollyhock dolls.

    Whoa. I just felt a big hug from my family. Thanks for that, Nancy!

  2. Love your story about your birds and why you paint them! It is so true that what we get introduced to and grow a passion for as a child is carried into our art. Thanks for sharing about your grandmother! What sweet memories to have.

  3. Thank you for sharing the beginnings of your beautiful art. I guess my mother’s love of birds is the reason for mine. I love to watch them out at the feeder. I was so drawn to your art the first time we walked into your studio at the Hungerford.
    – Kathy P.

    1. It sure is fun to watch them at the feeder, especially this time of year as many return for the warmer months. A common love of birds has become a great way to connect with people. Thanks for the comment, Kathy.

  4. I enrolled at Cornell University in 1962 and when I got to 1965 my advisor realized that I was going to be short credit hours in the category of sciences, so I said to myself- ” Guess I will take Ornithology. I now could graduate in 1966 and I now had a hobby for life!! I was hooked after my first field trip. I even went to Montana for ten days about 15 years ago to pick up 28 new species to add to my life list. I also have a passion for trees. Birds and trees certainly are connected. Love the picture you painted of the male Northern Oriole!! I bought for my wife’s 60th birthday. Love your work- Bill Welcher- Canandaigua N.Y.

    1. Hi Bill, I’m so glad you shared this! It’s hard to express just how much your message means to me and I’m overjoyed to know your story. What a trip that must have been to Montana. Thank you for reaching out and I hope we get to share bird stories someday.

      A little bit about choosing the name for the painting, “Curry Favor.” Curry was my paternal Grandmother’s maiden name, and the Redbud tree always held a special place in her heart as a symbol of her childhood home in Indiana. My Grandfather tried to grow one for her, but the climate was too harsh in the Southern Tier region of New York. The first spring at our current house, I was so excited to see a Redbud tree, and every spring when it blooms is extra special as I think of her and home. My paternal Grandmother is the one that nurtured my art and love of birds, and so I named the painting in her honor.

  5. As a self-taught seamstress, I taught myself to sew when I was 11. I have sewed many clothes and gowns for my children and myself. I came to quilting many years ago as a way of making matching quilts for my girls. My love of quilting was reignited when I saw your quilt Harvest Spice. I still use that quilt during the Fall. I enjoyed making that quilt so much that I purchased your quilt Harvest Home, but I never made it. My love of quilting was reignited when I retired 2 years ago. Believe it or not, but I am right now making that Harvest Home quilt. Thank you so much for your beautiful designs. For now, I am enjoying quilting. I hope to add painting watercolors to my hobbies soon. I love your oil paintings of birds.

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