I love getting commissions to draw Cardinals. The pop of color they bring to a piece always creates a nice sense of emphasis. Other than that, I appreciate the Cardinal for the symbolism they bring to a work of art.
Native American tradition believes that since the Cardinal is a monogamous bird, seeing one is a symbol of loving relationships and harmony. We have a pair that live in a tree on our property. We spent a good amount of Spring this past year watching from the window as they carefully built a nest and welcomed a little family. The pair would sit on neighboring branches singing to one another and carefully helping their fledglings learn to fly. It was a beautiful experience I'm glad we were able to witness first hand.
The modern connotation of the Cardinal is a little different. While it still emphasizes loving relationships, many now associate the sight of a Cardinal as a visitor from a loved one that has passed. The appearance of one is presumed to bring with it a reminder that those who have died are still watching over the living.
I was contacted to complete this piece for a client that wished to symbolize the passing of her two grandparents. I liked the imagery of the elderly hands letting go of the cardinals from the white circle, as if their souls once again found freedom in the material world with the release of the birds. The idea is comforting.
Maybe, just maybe, those two birds who I spent hours watching last Spring were the souls of my grandparents. It's nice to think that after a childhood spent watching the birds with them, that they come back for me to watch over. Comforting, indeed.
This 11x14 drawing was completed with Prismacolor Colored Pencils on Strathmore 400 Series Paper.