for the birds



These two etegami are mistake-ridden. The first one originally had an incorrect attribution on it. The second shows my sloppy penmanship at its peak. I sent these out anyway. The point of etegami is that it’s a one-shot deal. You paint the card with someone or some intention in mind, and you don’t agonize over it. Mistakes happen. (That doesn’t stop me from editing out the wrong attribution though — I am a librarian after all, I can’t have an incorrect citation out there on the internet, if I can help it!)

I painted these etegami for a couple of former colleagues. They remind me of birds themselves, cute and colorful and fun.

The first image is of swallows, birds I chose because the friend I was sending the card to had recently posted a picture on FaceBook of swallows during her first picnic of the year. I accompanied the image with a Gustave Flaubert quote from his Dictionary of Received Ideas:  Always refer to them as the ‘harbingers of spring’. Since no one knows where they come from, say they are ‘travelers from a distant shore.’ This is poetic.

But… I had mistakenly written below the quote that it was from Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary.

The minute I posted the card, however, I realized I’d gotten my satirical lexicographers confused. I’m sure that happens ALL the time.

With a little help from Paint, I was able to block the attribution out of the image. My friend will, however, forever have the misattributed card. And I’m sure she will curse me, the editor that she is.

The second card is a waxwing, modeled from a picture I found. I love the angle. I had practiced drawing the curve of the bird and the flowers before actually doing this on etegami paper. Then, I committed it in sumi ink, painted it with my gansai paints, and inked in some words. And completely messed up the writing.  The easiest part!  Oh well. Into the mail it went!



  1. I love both of these – warts and all! I especially love the one I received and will never curse you, but will praise you highly for sending such beautiful and meaningful art to me! I think I need an addendum card, though. Hint hint. ; )

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