Guest Post by Ashley Dietrich
A typical day at the Olive’s Place sanctuary / Canvas Dove art studio begins with checking on all birds, some light cleaning, and of course breakfast and treats. Rescued pigeons live in the outside aviaries year-round (visiting the house regularly), and doves rule my art studio. My paintings provide the means to work from home and care for the birds.
We just completed the construction of a third aviary for Olive’s Place residents, which allowed me to separate my flock by temperament. This also provides more space for future birds, emergency intakes, and rehabbing injured and orphaned wild pigeons and doves.
Indoors, I am busy creating more bird portraits for fall art shows – but I am most excited about Flocktoberfest! I am thrilled to be planning a trip to San Francisco to meet my Palomacy friends (the human ones too) who I have known online for years! I will be bringing original artwork to sell – and I will also be painting live.
So what is it like to share space with doves while working from home? Never boring. The doves are exploring, cooing, bathing, preening, flicking seeds, and sometimes napping on my desk. More than once, I have made color choices based on the simple fact that a bird was perched on a paint tube and I didn’t want to disturb him. They occasionally help “teach” an orphan baby bird how to eat. (I place the baby’s cage near the dove feeding area, and the young ones watch and learn.) Eating at my desk is impossible for me though – they will all hover hungrily, and George *will* hop into my cereal bowl for his coveted Rice Crispies. Doves indoors (until a recent adoption, I had 6) do require more cleaning that the average art studio. I vacuum each day, and do a thorough cleaning weekly.
Having studio doves has changed the way I organize my space. The studio was remodeled from the master suite of the original house. We added windows, and I use the walk-in closet as a packaging area and storage. I also had to change my light fixture when it became a popular nesting spot. I cannot leave artwork sitting out to dry, so I transfer pieces to another room to varnish. This has the added benefit of keeping my work station clear. I do not use any solvents around the birds, and my studio is only for acrylic painting (water based).
Sometimes the doves take interest in what I’m doing, and sit with me while I work. But mostly, they are busy with their usual activities – as are the pigeons, who I can see in the aviary from my windows. They are all good company, and keep life interesting. Follow me on Instagram: @canvasdove for sneak peeks new bird paintings and behind the scenes in my studio & @olives_place to see more pigeon and dove antics.
About the Artist Ashley Dietrich
I hold BFAs in Studio Art and Art History, and painting is my passion as well as my livelihood. Birds are each unique individuals with their own personalities, and I am honored to be part of so many little lives. Capturing their gestures and the complexity of feathers is a fulfilling technical challenge, but I especially enjoy creating portraits and getting to know who I’m painting. I also work as a volunteer wild bird rehabilitator, specializing in doves and pigeons. Painting allows me to work with wild birds as well as spend time with my own little flock. www.CanvasDove.com