Here is my new painting
and I've included the words to the poem, in case you want to know what it says.
I had to experiment a bit with this, as it was important that the writing resembled tiny black starling bodies, without actually drawing them. My technique of scratching into the ink through to the pastel only works with the dark layer on top (although I may do some more experimentation with this at a later date), so I tried a slightly different method (which I've used before) of scratching before I apply the ink, so that the black sits in the grooves. Then also I was unhappy with the colour scheme that I had initially chosen (autumnal), as I may have overused this - and by happy accident I ended up with gold and burgundy, which I'm very pleased with.




The sky sets red and darkens;

And then double darkens with the swooping, feathery mass.

The sound of bird calls fills the air, as small bodies congregate and flutter

To coalesce in one hive body;

Contracting and expanding

Like an ocean of waves;

Twisting and whirling.


How do they know?

How can this drab little starling who darts around my garden

Become transformed

Into a dynamic, overarching black constellation,

Performing a strange, alien stunt,

With instincts far sharper than expert Red Arrows?

Seven is again the magic,

As they monitor their neighbours.

They turn, in an instant, as one –

Taking our breath away,

As we stare


Into the red-purple clouds.


Like a brush stroke they gather and pool –

Intensify then liquefy –

Dispersing the pigment across the canvas.

The sight seems miraculous, like a firework display

Without the acrid stench of chemicals.

An exhibition that is free to attend and costs the Earth nothing.

We stand beneath them, amazed spectators,

Until the flock disbands and they drift home to roost.


Then we also wander back to our buildings

To shelter with technology

And surround ourselves with material things.

But have we at least taken to heart

A small part of the jigsaw

Which sits inside our heads


To wait for the moment of our unification.


Vikki Yeates

January 2022