By Visit Ventura
So much loveliness in this world, so much impossibly beautiful delicate detail. Artists see this — and birders too — so we asked a few questions of Ventura’s own Claudia Pardo, who has paired art and bird-admiring into joyful, and soul-sustaining, play.
Below, a happy mix of philosophy, art, and maybe some words that might help you elevate your own life.
As Pardo perfectly puts it, “Beauty sustains.”
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Peruvian-born painter, illustrator and educator, and a mom to two extraordinary teens living in Ventura, California. My work expands across diverse media, including oils, acrylics, watercolor, and digital painting. I have served different roles in my professional career and found great inspiration as a College Art Appreciation professor, a job I did for a decade. I am back in the classroom after a long hiatus and excited to infuse my lessons with creative activities.
Professionally, I have delved in creative writing (was a contributing writer for a local newspaper for several years), branding, design and creative project management—all amazing professional opportunities in their own right. Yet, I truly feel a sense of belonging when I am creating, in my studio.
I’m also the author and creator of Everyday Buddha. It started as an experiment to get me out of a difficult period. I committed to creating one drawing every day for a year. I had to caption it with a positive affirmation, an empowering quote or words of gratitude. I did this for 365 days without missing one. It was an extraordinary exercise in discipline with transformational results. Not only was I at my most creative, the positive affirmations truly transformed my life. Everyday Buddha became a brand that uses creativity as a force for good. I sell original paintings and products with hand-drawn illustrations that promote self- empowerment.
How did you come to paint birds?
Last year, the limitations imposed by Covid prompted me to spend more time outdoors, in nature, camping and traveling to more remote places where I could maintain social distance. I’ve always enjoyed spending time outside, but I think–and many may relate–that the events of last year forced us to spend our time with a heightened sense of awareness. Suddenly, I was paying closer attention to the different patterns of rocks in the desert, the varying density of tree foliage in the forest, and of course, the astonishing diversity of birds. Their brilliant coloring, interesting patterns, and regal handsomeness captured my artistic eye.
What is it about painting birds that gives you joy?
The immersive quality of the process and the suspension of time. When I paint a bird, I am forced to strip my mind of thought and to only see the bird— its shapes, forms, values, lines, etc. I also love learning about each bird. They’re fascinating animals with unique attributes and fun conventions. It’s as if each painting of a bird becomes a small, immersive research project.
Did you pay much attention to birds before?
Their song, yes, especially in the morning. They gather outside my window and make themselves heard. But ever since I decided to pay closer attention to them, it has opened up an entire world of possibilities of how to capture them with my brush. I can hear the sweet melody of one right now.
Do you have a favorite bird? Well, to date.
The very first one I painted was a Belted Kingfisher. This striking fellow would not let himself get photographed even though they’re highly conspicuous birds! His elusive and playful personality piqued my interest. It may come as a surprise because he’s not very colorful, but I think he’s my favorite bird, and my favorite painting of a bird.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Beauty sustains. When we pay close attention to nature, there’s an unfolding that occurs internally that is essential to the value of our human experience. I encourage you to go marvel at something that dazzles your senses.