Digging deeper, the secrets become aviatic.


Working on Molly, and I remain fascinated that I find it easier to dig deeper into the story by using the image of birds.  


Somehow, the layers that obscure the truth are scraped away a little easier.  

Are the birds metaphors?  My guides?

The Jackdaw as metaphor for Molly and her Irish family

I robbed your grave.  I revealed you.  I showed you in shameful moments.  I learned things about you.  Everything I learned made me love you more dearly.  I’ll learn more.  I’ll follow your tracks and invade your hidden time.  I’ll uncover your lies.  I’ll rewrite history and revise my judgment as your old secrets explode.  I will justify it all in the name of the obsessive life you gave me.

– James Ellroy, My Dark Places


Digging down deeper, the secrets become aviatic.


In many myths and legends, birds link the human world to the divine or supernatural realms that lie beyond ordinary experience... They are often associated with the journey of the human soul after death. [source]


Special sale: Dead Bird Collection- embroidered drawings

I am a BIG BIG fan of symbology, imagery and metaphor.  I feed on it like some kind of voracious vampire.  

As I was collecting a few books from my personal library to donate to our local community mini library, I pulled out an old book I had forgotten about.  

Oh, how I love finding what I need in my personal library!  I guess the whole exercise in finding books to donate was actually Universe letting me know I was supposed to find this book today.  Sorry!  I am not donating this one!  It goes straight into my tote bag for coffee shop reading.

The imagery Shakespeare instinctively uses is thus a revelation, largely unconscious, given at a moment of heightened feeling, of the furniture of his mind, the channels of his thoughts, the qualities of things, the objects and incidents he observes and remembers, and perhaps most significant of all, those which he does not observe or remember. -Caroline Spurgeon

Symbols and metaphors play a huge part in my creative process.   For example,  in my current project, Molly- a true crime analysis, birds (dead birds, bird skulls and live birds as well as forest animals and insects) act as messengers and symbols of the main character’s quest for liberation and redemption.


In dreams, dead birds can symbolize a loss of freedom. Various cultures view birds either as a way the soul is carried to heaven, or, in the case of vultures, ravens and crows, as a symbol of death. [source]

And of late, those of you that know me, know I have been obsessively embroidering my drawings.

Why embroidered drawings?

I have mentioned this in previous posts that certain drawings in Molly (in particular chapter headings) are embroidered as a means to reflect the act of connecting the dots and weaving together timelines, evidence and research.  The stitches are footsteps on a map.  It reflects deep thought and the passage of time.  It is historical.  Traditional.  Sacred.  It is about strengthening the fragile.  It fascinates me that a medium so cheap and easily torn such as newsprint becomes strong and hardy when layered and sewn together.  It can be manipulated and folded, handled, and only gains a lovelier patina.   There is something magical in that.

Recycled sock craft: dead crow. #Graphicnovel fundraiser. 

The crow guides my healing journey. It gives me the courage to enter the darkness of the unknown and to let go of fear. The crow reminds me to laugh, live and love fiercely as I embrace my life’s mission.  According to folk lore, finding a dead crow implies good fortune awaits.  I feel they also give us pause to celebrate the beautiful spiral of:

the void-birth-life-death-the void-rebirth

As you may already know from previous posts, dead birds are a continuous visual theme in my graphic novel, Molly.  They are a metaphor for loss of freedom and the struggles the main character faces in her short life.

See: Dead messengers




As part of raising funds for the graphic novel project, I have designed this loveable little corpse made from recycled materials.  Strangely wonderful to cuddle!


Makes you stop, sit, meditate, smile and perhaps let out a big sigh.  And maybe even talk about death.

Available [made to order] on my ETSY shop: POSTSTREET

This is my original design.

Dead messengers. A question of metaphor and search for theme. #graphicnovel study.


I am drawn to the metaphoric significance of the dead bird in my graphic novel even though I am uncertain what the metaphor is.


I come across these sacred moments on my walks and always pay attention.  I stay still.  And try to listen.



My friends are sharing in my search for the meaning.

Dead Bird at Abandoned House.  Photo by Matthew Roy
Dead Bird at Abandoned House. Photo by Matthew Roy

Dead messengers

"Not a whole dead bird but enough evidence to open a case file." - Darcy.  Photo by Darcy
“Not a whole dead bird but enough evidence to open a case file.” – Darcy. Photo by Darcy Glip

My search continues.  I seek out meaning in literature.  Since I was 10, I come back to Oscar Wilde’s story of the nightingale.  I cannot read it without a profusion of tears for the nightingale and its sacrifice.

The Nightingale and the Rose

The Nightingale and the Rose by Chris Conn
The Nightingale and the Rose by Chris Conn




In dreams, dead birds can symbolize a loss of freedom. Various cultures view birds either as a way the soul is carried to heaven, or, in the case of vultures, ravens and crows, as a symbol of death.


When I read the quote above, I recalled my scratchy notes on the central theme for my graphic novel.  What is the need Molly is trying to fulfill?  What is her core value?  What is the one word?




That is it.  I believe I have found the central theme.  The meaning of the dead bird.  My need to seek them out and listen.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom…

– May Angelou





Beauty in the deterioration, in the static, in the anticipation. #wheatpaste #streetart

Walking through our “gallery lane” in the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, it’s beautiful to see which pieces remain untouched and which are changing.

I haven’t revisited our pieces in the West End yet.  I’ll be curious if different neighborhoods have different lifespans.

Some samplings of check-ins:

Prepping new pieces:

See also:

China Marker Bowie and other portraits

Portrait: Jacqueline

Latest updates

This is how we do it

Once it’s up, let it go

Something this fun has got to be illegal!

Something this fun has got to be illegal! #wheatpaste #streetart #westend

Huge thank you to Nancy Kirkpatrick, Maryellen Groundwater, Megan Low and Dustin Whymark for a beautiful day!

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Esteban, David. Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

The Social Life. Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

The Social Life

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Is it GUERILLA ART if you’re openly squealing with laughter?!

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

SPECTACULAR monster series by Maryellen Groundwater. Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

SPECTACULAR monster series by Maryellen Groundwater. Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Pride tree by the beautiful and inimitable Nancy. Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Josh, Rebecca.  The colors! Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Captured moments:

Maryellen prepping her pastings

Nancy prepping her piece

Monster series by Maryellen

Prepping my dead birds.


By Maryellen Groundwater

Perfect placement for Maryellen’s piece!


“Once it’s up, let it go.” #wheatpaste #streetart #downtowneastside

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Most of the pieces remain untouched, even after several weeks, even after a year.

But some have been altered…

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

 … so we added back.

And we added more.

“Once it’s up, let it go.”  Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Maryellen cutting out my Dead Bird series

Dustin adding a bird to where his face used to be.

Megan is missing. Or her portrait is.

Megan adding a bird to the spot.

All that is left of Maryellen’s piece is a little tree.

Maryellen’s latest masterpiece finds the perfect spot.

By Maryellen Groundwater


Patti being pasted by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Megan adding dead bird to dumpster.

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Maryellen adding dead bird to pipe.

Dustin touching up the sock monkey.

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Mugshot, Molly’s Father.

Graphic Novel

Photo by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Land of hopes and dreams, 1929. Molly’s uncle.

Maryellen pasting a dead bird.

Stay tuned for Pride 2012 Wheatpaste Campaign!