As Sharon madly prepares for her trip to Arkansas, I'm working on a painting set at Bayou de View. The painting here is an earlier one, and though I've painted more ivory-bills than any other North American bird, I haven't done many good paintings of it. This is one that turned out about like I wanted it to. The one I'm working on now will be similar, but not as unequivocal. There's to be an ivory-bill in it, flying away, giving you the kind of look you get when you're not exactly sure what you've seen. I've been thinking and reading and writing a great deal about the bird lately, and this painting is coming out of all that. We're all hanging in limbo, waiting for that photograph, that video, that confirmation that means we don't just have to take someone's word for it that the ivory-bill is back. Until then, all I can paint is ambiguity, because that's really all we have. I've watched David Luneau's famous video clip 900 times, and I thoroughly believe that's an ivory-bill, but there are plenty of people who don't think so. The questions swirl and the undertow of disbelief is stronger with each passing month. We're hungry for more.
Still, it thrills me that friends of mine are there as we speak, slogging around in the bayous, waiting, listening silently behind veils of camouflage. And it delights me that Sharon will have a chance to do that. When the Zeiss search commenced in the Pearl River region in 1999, I stayed home and painted ivory-bills. With two sweet kids, a husband and home to hold down, it's pretty much all I can do. Carving two weeks out of their lives for a search just isn't in the cards. Do I sound wistful? Oh, yeah! But I'm determined to get some good paintings and writing out of that longing.