Goldfinch and Thistle

This week I want to discuss a painting I recently finished. Featuring Scotlands national flower, and the American Goldfinch. It feels so good to finally have this piece completed! I’ve been contemplating it for about two years now. If you want to stick around, let me tell you a little history about this piece!

American Goldfinch

It might be interesting to know that I had the frame for this piece picked out before I even had the initial sketch drawn. I actually used the colours of the frame to pick out the colours in the original. I also used it to determine the sizing of the original.

It originally housed an older piece of mine depicting a large mushroom and a frog in the rain. I called it “Umbrella” 

Umbrella was one of the originals featured in ISBE Domains grand opening! Which was an art gallery back in Edmonton. 

They had a really interesting business model. The vibe they created was really dow to earth. Their primary goal was to uplift the local arts community through themed events, workshops, and an accepting all are welcome environment.

Unfortunately they didn’t put much time or research into location. After a few months of break-ins, thefts, and vandalisms they closed their doors. It was heartbreaking. 

I can’t seem to find any photos from back then. It’s a shame, I would have liked to share some of those memories with you guys. I do have the original packed away. 

When I open my own gallery. I plan on taking some of the lessons I learned from them and put it into my space. 

It’s crazy to see how far my work has come!

I removed that original from the frame a few years ago. It didn’t represent my skill set, or my current body of work well anymore. The frame has been sitting in my collection collecting dust ever since.

Until I got the inspiration for Goldfinch and Thistle. 

Creating Goldfinch and Thistle 

Back in July of 2019 I participated in the Sherwood Park Highland Festival. Throughout the weekend I was constantly asked for pieces that featured thistle. 

It was one of my most successful events of the summer. So I signed up to participate in the following years highland festival. I had given myself a challenge, and a deadline. Naturally I wrote it down and started to conceptualize what I could do with it. There’s a bunch of American Goldfinch sketches and notes scattered around my sketchbooks.  

Then the pandemic hit… 

July 2020 arrived and the event was cancelled. 

With the deadline removed, the project got put on hold.

Then we moved. 

A few months ago I could hear the goldfinches singing outside my studio window. Theres a big open meadow not far from here, and a few families have bird feeders on their balconies. 

The American Golfinch is attracted to large open spaces. Especially if they support thistle, dandelion, and ragweed. 

It got me feeling a little homesick. I got tired of putting it off.

Symbolism of The American Goldfinch

The American goldfinch represent unbridled joy, inspiration, motivation, and self expression. It likely has everything to do with how bright yellow the males are, and how bright green the females are. 

Goldfinch Painting
“Goldfinch and Thistle”

These little guys migrate each year! Trading between central Canada during the summer months, and as far south as Mexico in the winter months.  

Scotlands National Flower

Believe it or not the thistle is Scotlands national flower. 

The thistle represents a difficult situation, resilience, bravery, devotion, and determination. 

There isn’t really an answer as to why the thistle became Scotlands national flower. I was able to find a popular folktale that depicts a group of sleeping Scots warriors who were awoken and alerted to the presence of a Norse army. One of the intruding soldiers stepped on a thistle and cried out.

I wasn’t able to uncover any evidence to support this. Makes a good story though.

What the Piece Represents to Me 

Throughout this pieces journey I believe its story started to reflect my own! For me this painting represents my joy in self expression, and my continued determination to be creative.

It could also represent how creating a career in the arts is a difficult situation, and requires a lot of bravery and devotion. It takes a lot of courage to write these blogs, and show my artwork to the public. Believe me! It has gotten much easier for me. Some days I still struggle with it. 

Using both watercolour, and coloured pencil on paper it technically makes this a mixed media painting. The original measures 4.5” x 6.5” 

I have framed the original to conservation standards. Placed beneath two mats, and set in an antiqued gold frame. 

The outside measurement of the frame is 10.5” x 11.5” inches. 

There are plans for prints, I just need to iron out the details first. 

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read this post. I appreciate you. So despite this heat wave get out there and find joy in your journey! 

Stay creative friends, 

Justin Erickson

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