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The artist who gives shelter to the birds she draws


All paintings and brushes of the illustrator Jada Fitch are scattered before the biggest window of her house in Portland, Oregon. It is not casual. While she draws, the illustrator watches the birds that are drawn by the feeders that she places for them next to the window.

Black-capped chickadees and tufted titmouse arrive to her house and she draws and photographs them. They have always been her inspiration and protagonists of her illustrations, but one day, while she worked in her studio and one of these little birds came to her window, she resolved to create houses for them. Houses like her own that, with many details, would adapt to her little friends and that will always be filled with seeds for them.

Fitch was tired of her work after several months illustrating coloring books for adults. She needed a break and with the birds she found a scape. “I thought that if I made some bird houses or dioramas I would have fun for that weekend and also would get some likes on Instagram” she says. She placed her camera on top of a pile of books and patiently waited.

That weekend she started to create cardboard houses with an interior decorated with clay chimneys and watercolor portraits. In the houses she places cleaning objects such as brooms and dollhouse furniture. At first, she placed the boxes in her window to enjoy the company of the visitors and photograph them at their arrival.

The interior of the houses is a display of creativity and birds can feel like home surrounded by watercolor paintings, which is the same technique Fitch uses to create the floor, walls and ceiling.

Fitch says that the black-capped chickadees and tufted titmouse are “the only ones that dared to enter the house, probably because they nest in cavities”.

As good birdwatcher, Fitch have also discovered that round doors work better than rectangular ones and this allows the bird to stay longer while searching for the best seed, which is very helpful when taking photographs until capturing the perfect image.

The illustrator has an effective method to draw the birds to her window and to make them enter the boxes she makes for them: she places birdseed on a small cardboard cornice outside the house and that way she accomplishes that “sometimes even a downy woodpecker or a white-breasted nuthatch peep out their head”.

What started as a mere entertainment today has become a business to her. Since the houses appeared on internet they haven’t stopped to get likes and be shared and now Fitch and her husband create folding houses that can be easily sent.

This illustrator’s fondness for birds goes beyond her art specialization. Fitch considerers herself “a wild life artist in the professional sphere and an avid birdwatcher during free time”.

Fitch also works two days of the week as volunteer ringing birds. “We catch birds with special nets, we measure them, we remove the ticks, we put a numbered ring on them and then we set them free. Most of them spend winter in southern USA, South and Central America and return in spring”, she says.

Apart from creating and selling birdhouses, Fitch is finishing the fourth volume of a book series for kids. According to the artist, the stories of these books “approach migrations of four animal species and are targeted to a preschool public. They are tales about the snowy owl, the little brown bat, the Blanding’s turtle and the monarch butterfly.

photography by jadafitchillustration

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