The Raven from Leadville, CO

January 17, 2018

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The Raven from Leadville, CO

  • 14” x 34” diptych, unframed
  • Charcoal on paper
  • $800, unframed

Ravens, scientific name Corvus corax, “raven croaker”, live 15-20 years in the wild, 20 – 40 years in captivity. Somewhere in my posts, I’ve written this story, but as Grandpa would say when reminded that he’d told that story, “I like telling it.”

Years ago I started asking random strangers if they had a bird story. The grocery checkout clerk said “No” but a young man behind me in line said “I have one”. He had recently returned from living in a small Alaskan village where he had observed ravens huddled for warmth around the village street light during the day. A solar eye only allowed the light to come on at night. But the ravens, understanding this, took turns covering the solar eye with a wing. He said a “raven shift” would last a few minutes, then another raven would take his/her place keeping the warming light on for others.

Naturally I wanted to draw a raven, but I had no access to specimens. The University of Kansas Natural History Museum contact could not have been nicer when I asked if I could draw a raven from their collection. I expected a posed, life-like bird, but instead I was led down a narrow corridor with floor to ceiling flat storage drawers filled with tagged raven specimens. I chose this one from Leadville, CO.

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