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Behind the Scenes: Original Watercolors

Bird watching has been a favorite pastime of mine for years now. Whether at home or when traveling, I enjoy learning about birds that are native to the place I am in. I love discovering birds, hearing them, observing them, being able to identify them, and then later digging deeper to learn more about them; studying their feather patterns, nests, and habits.


Stephanie Housley creating Coral & Tusk original artwork
Stephanie designing in her Wyoming studio.


Where my husband and I live in rural Western Wyoming, the winter is extremely harsh and long. There is more snow here than I ever thought imaginable and at tundra temps! Before we moved to Wyoming, we lived in New York City for almost 20 years. In both places (and many others) a return of migrating birds symbolizes the onset of spring. Here in Wyoming, the sights and sounds of these returning, delightful creatures bring immense joy and happiness every spring, more so than any other spring prior to living here.

Watercolor of Eastern Bluebird and Goldfinch by Stephanie Housley
Painterly details, on the left is an Eastern Bluebird and to the right is a Goldfinch.


Given the unique challenges and struggles with the current state of the world this particular spring, pausing to acknowledge and celebrate each single bird upon its return has provided a sheer, childlike giddiness, and moreover, a deep affirmation and consolation that some things do not change. The natural world around us continues to progress on its own path, with seasons, migrations and time tables, unaware of what us humans are encountering. My husband and I track on what date we see each of these native species return (birds, mammals, flowers, everything!). In this, the fourth year of documentation, we have never seen more than a week's fluctuation in dates year to year with each of these species' arrival back "home". 

Coral & Tusk Original Artwork Bird Series
The full original watercolor artwork series, hand-painted by Stephanie.


With the motivation of making something EXTRA special for Mother's Day, as each of us are focused on home and nesting, and celebrating those closest to us, especially Mom, I wanted to take time to create and offer these one of a kind original watercolor paintings. Each of the seven paintings depict birds I have been lucky enough to watch at some point, somewhere, and fall in love with. I chose to show them perched on foliage they either love to eat or are found in their particular habitat. 

Coral & Tusk Indigo Bunting on Goldenrod Painting in Progress
The Indigo Bunting on Goldenrod painting process.


For these paintings, I referenced a wonderful book called, A Guide to North American Species Bird Feathers, by S. David Scott and Casey McFarland, to further inform the feather studies, as well as a vintage Peterson A Field Guide to the Birds set my own amazing Mom gave me a few years back. I relished in being able to carve out the time and space to make these one of-a-kind paintings, and I hope they provide continued happiness in your home.

Coral & Tusk designer and founder Stephanie Housley in her studio.

- Stephanie