Art In Progress

I thought I would share a little behind-the-scenes today. I am in the middle of preparing a Youth Public Art Project for Clark County. The project itself will take place over Spring Break at the Desert Breeze Community Center. I will be facilitating the creation of fifty little birds with the help of fifty children. I call this project “Songbirds Of Hope,” because it is inspired by all the birds I heard singing after lockdown. Did anyone else noticed how quiet the streets were for a while? There was little to drown out the sounds of nature. It was the highlight of my day, listening to those little birds. It brought me small moments of hope during a frightening and unsettling time. One year later, the pandemic is far from over, but I continue to commune with my bird neighbors on a daily basis.

Photograph by Jill Wellington.

This weekend I have been prepping my canvases which will soon become home for fifty bird cut-outs. I have a canvas to represent each of the seasons. It has felt so good to paint large again after a few years of focusing on picture books. The act of spreading these canvases out in my living room and pulling out the big brushes and paints has brought a new sense of hope and optimism into my own heart.

I have limited space, so I’m using my walls to hang the canvases up. I pull them down one at a time and work on them in my living room. I started with a dark green base layer.

Next, I put down my background layer. I tried to keep it loose with broad brush strokes. I wanted each canvas to speak to the season. Can you guess which season is represented on each canvas?

Now comes the fun part! TREES! I’m using my palette knife and working them in, Bob Ross style. Soooo much fun! Awwww, what happy little trees! Here’s winter. I’ll post the others later. Until then, I encourage you to take a walk outside if you can and listen for messages of hope and optimism from your bird neighbors.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson


Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

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