(c) Kaisa Mäki-Petäjä

I can’t remember where I first saw Gennine’s birds but they took my breath right away. I love the colours she uses, particularly the bright blues and especially the turquoise. I love the figure of her birds, the clarity of the form that balances the riot of colours giving her art room to breathe. I wish I could have that too. And surprise, surprise, I love her use of maps and old postcards. Her creativity is not limited to only drawings and paint. It spills over to hand carved rubber stamps, painted stones, fabrics (you really should take a look at her blog if you want to discover the full spectrum of her creativity). It’s always inspirational to go over her blogging history to see how her craft has evolved over time – it always makes me proud to see how someone grows into one’s true self.

What admire most in her art is her honesty in creating happy things. There certainly is a need for hard subjects in art but we still need beauty in our life. While there is much suffering and injustice in the world it doesn’t help in the long run if we focus solely on suffering and forget what beauty awaits us. Isn’t it precisely the beauty and mystery of the world that should motivate our cause, the fact that everyone should be able to experience it in happiness? Contemporary art world tends to regard art of the beautiful as something trivial, mundane, as of lower class or not even art proper simply because it is not cynical, disillusioned or disheartened even. Sometimes it feels like one should be sardonic to qualify as an artist. But I think art’s fundamental task is to move us, to show us things we might not otherwise notice and to show things in new light, from new perspectives. This does not exclude any subject matter but includes everything.

I am grateful to Gennine for sharing her life, craft and art with me, even if I’m only one of her followers online. It makes me happy to see how another amateur natural historian assembles her collection of natural wonders.

I made the bird cards in the photo for the Christmas 2011. I discovered the papers in the local paper crafts shop and bought them simply because they went so well together (except for the white which I found later on). I had no idea what to do with them. It was Gennine’s blog that inspired me. I searched for a picture of a blue jay and styled it into sections I could easily cut from the papers. I’ve been thinking about making a red cardinal and a raven but haven’t got around it yet. I do already have the papers for the raven so maybe some day soon.

P.s. Incidentally, the word amateur originates from Latin amator, ‘lover’ and amare, ‘to love’ so an amateur actually means the lover of the pursuit she engages in passionately. An amateur is not someone of lesser or poor skills, someone unprofessional, but someone with love for that pursuit.