Orphan Girl Fine Art
I grew up in Lincoln, a small Oregon community twenty-two miles up Highway 66 from Ashland, now nestled in the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. Here, I could step out my back door to explore seventy-five acres of towering pines and firs, and encounter the creatures who inhabited my world.
When I was eleven, I rescued an American Robin, named him Navin, and happily released him back into the wild after three months. I was hooked, and over the years I continued to roam my surroundings and take in orphans and injured birds. Privileged to watch these creatures, I got to know each of their personalities and with luck, to release them back into the woods I loved. I gained an intimate understanding of those acres and their animal inhabitants: I knew where a particular wildflower would appear, where the Tree Swallow would likely nest, and where to find petrified wood after the first heavy spring rains. I once encountered a coyote turning back to stop and stare at me, yellow eyes gleaming. I held an injured Sharp-Shined hawk and a pygmy owl—both completely unafraid. I eagerly anticipated the twice-a-year birding trips with my father to the Klamath Bird Refuge. There I learned to identify and name the hundred plus species that congregate during spring and fall migrations. And so it was that birds captured my heart.
By now I’ve cared for and rehabilitated hundreds of birds and a few mammals, and continue to do so with the help of Badger Run Wildlife Rehabilitation in Keno, Oregon. Part of my proceeds go directly to wildlife rehabilitation.
Orphan Girl Fine Art brings together my love for wildlife, my passion for art and my taste for tea. I paint with Gouache on used teabags. The recycling process usually begins with inspiration to paint a bird or raptor I’ve encountered or rescued. It continues with saving teabags from myriad cups of tea savored--each bag to be processed. I let the tea bag dry out to set the stains and then painstakingly remove the tea. A quick rinse is next, followed by an overnight soak in a base bath to remove acidity. A soak in a distilled water bath allows them to be PH tested in batches; the tea bags dry and I flatten them; and finally I apply them in layers on canvas board. I’ve prepared the canvas board with an India ink wash and other decorative papers to provide an aesthetically pleasing background, before teabags go on. So, why teabags? Because their muted colors and textures enhance the natural qualities of fur and feathers, bringing to the paintings a softness and warmth that that mirrors the creatures I paint.
Getting to work with wild animals is an incredible privilege and painting individual birds, as I know them, in a way that captures their amazing personality is an honor. I am so very happy to be able to share my work with you.
Erin M Linton