The Marvelous Macaw

Macaws Three Yello Gold Scartlet Blue Watercolor Painting

For our prompt of “Parrot” today, I ended up with three colorful macaws, because they’re my favorite kind of parrot and I couldn’t decide which version to sketch. As ever, while hunting through various references, I got lost for a bit watching videos of parrots talking. There was one parrot that knew over 350 words, spoke in complete sentences, and also in the voice of its owner. It was equal bits amazing, fascinating and creepy. To me, though, while the ability to talk makes for a fun video, it’s the longevity of parrots that I find the most interesting. The oldest living parrot on record is said to be one named Poncho who will be 93 this year, and is now retired after having worked in many movies alongside Hollywood’s biggest stars. There’s another parrot who is potentially older, but lacks the proper paperwork to prove it. This one is a 114 year old blue-and-yellow macaw named Charlie, and the owner says that it once belonged to Winston Churchill, which made tabloids quickly add an embellished story that Churchill taught her to cuss. Though the ownership was disputed by Churchill’s daughter, it’s still kind of funny to consider. And regardless of the teacher, Charlie the parrot is indeed said to have a rather colorful vocabulary.

As for this Charlie, I doubt I’ll live as long as the parrot version. If I even managed to live as long as my grandmother, who was 99 at the time of her death, then I’m about half way through my life. But, there’s no way to know exactly how long I’ll be around, so I just live each day doing what I love. Sketching birds is certainly on that list. Unlike parrots, dogs don’t live nearly as long, so this will be the decade that we will have to say goodbye to our dear Phineas at some point. But, I was talking with my friend once last year and telling her about the things I was doing and she said, “what a wonderful contribution!” I loved that expression. I think I’d just published another book or something, but those words reminded me that it wasn’t just about me. What I DO has some sort of an effect on others and my sincere hope is that it’s always a positive one. I’m not hoping for fame or fortune, though the latter is something few sensible folk would ever turn down. Instead, I’m just wanting to be a part of things and help to inspire people as I go along in life. And it struck me that while accomplishments are wonderful things, it’s the contributions we make in life that define our legacy.

That’s some rather deep thoughts to come out of watching parrot videos, to be sure, but they’re also happy ones. I truly believe that great things will happen this year and every year after that. Sure, maybe some bad things too, but never enough to shadow the sheer brilliance of the good. And it’s not surprising that longevity would be what inspires me most about parrots. I’m certainly not wanting to become a mimic and, instead, always try and keep things fresh and creative. And, more time equals more chances to contribute. Another day to make something. Another day to try something, fail miserably at it and then shrug it off and try it again with fresh hope. Another blissful day to enjoy a few moments with the ones you love most. And hopefully, in the process, make someone smile. Of all the things I’ve accomplished in life, the memories of moments involving others are the ones that stay in my heart. Sometimes, the most captivating contribution can simply come from showing up in your own uniquely colorful way, like the marvelous macaw.

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Macaws Three Yello Gold Scartlet Blue Watercolor Painting Sketchbook Detail
Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
32 Comments
  1. Karen Fortier 5 months ago

    Fabulous birds Charlie! This was such a fun and colorful prompt!

  2. Sandra Strait 5 months ago

    You do make a wonderful contribution, Charlie! Every day you touch people’s lives and make them better – whether just cheering them up with your ramble or by encouraging them to create. It does make a difference. And on a different note altogether – talking about being distracted. I followed a thread and discovered that in 1910 – Frederick Russell Burnham, who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones and the boy scouts – proposed ending a meat shortage in the U.S. by importing hippos to America. This, it was thought would be especially good for Louisiana because cattle couldn’t graze in the swamps, and an invasion of water lilies was posing a problem. The hippos would eat the lilies and the people would eat the hippos. Obviously, this didn’t work because hippos are one of the deadliest animals on the face of the earth! But I feel so much more chipper, just knowing that America could have been the home of hippo ranching – what a wonderful world we live in! Had to share that.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕 Appreciate your kind words! And oh wow… I didn’t know the story of hippo ranching. That’s crazy. But, that’s America, so it sort of makes sense.

  3. Susan Feniak 5 months ago

    Thank you Charlie for your beautiful art and your daily positive and wonderful contributions to this mixed up world of ours.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Susan! 😃💕 This world is indeed a bit mixed up… glad we have each other!

  4. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 5 months ago

    I am glad you chose to do a variety they are gorgeous!!!! And thanks for the info I love to learn. 🙂

  5. Susan Masters 5 months ago

    Wow Charlie! What a wonderful sharing of how going down the rabbit hole can really truly make sense and brighten the day. I was feeling very dumpy here but your words lifted me and your parrots are a burst of colour and joy… Ty

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Aww yay! I’m so thrilled I could help brighten your day, Susan!! 😃💕

  6. SMZ 5 months ago

    Charlie says, “Another blissful day to enjoy a few moments with the ones you love most. And hopefully, in the process, make someone smile.”

    I read that and felt myself smiling involuntarily. It is amazing what a positive attitude can do to make the world a better place.
    You day that every day with your posts.

    Love those parrots!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕Glad you enjoyed my macaws! And I truly think a positive attitude can do the most amazing things!

  7. Purnima Manjunath 5 months ago

    This is great work! I can see so many details,Charlie!!

  8. Hninn Hninn 5 months ago

    Wow… colorful parrots… i hear their singing ☺

  9. LoriCtoo 5 months ago

    You are a little ray of sunshine each day! Your parrots are all so beautiful. I can see why you had a hard time deciding which one not to do! Me on the other hand, has not done mine today. A little diddy keeps popping in my head every time I think about it. “Where the flowers croon…..in the Tiki Tiki Room”. Then I wander to the Dole Whip counter! 😉

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 haha! Sounds like a fun way to travel! And just how I approach these… it’s a wonder I manage to make a post each day! hehe

  10. Robert Coleman 5 months ago

    Thanks for the excellent macaws. I was stopped cold by your note on the relative lifespans of our animal friends. Someone who takes on a parrot as a pet is looking at a lifelong partnership– all Your life long! Dogs unfortunately have much shorter lives and i once hard a child explain why: he said that dogs have happy lives because all the bad stuff is left out, so they don’t live as long as us. I hope I got that right, but you get the idea….

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks, Bob! 😃💕 Oh wow… I love that thought about dogs. I think it must be true. And yeah, as for parrots… best to get one where you’re very young. hehe

  11. Gary Middleton 5 months ago

    Beautiful painting. Of course Sir Winston Churchill was a great artist like yourself Charlie.

  12. Lisa 5 months ago

    Having turned 60 a few weeks ago I could easily be in the last decade of my life. I don’t come from a long lived family, and I have health issues that don’t help. I have a very close friend who will be 60 in March and it’s making her crazy. I myself am fine with it. I had fun. I did what I wanted to do mostly. I laughed a lot more than I cried. There are a few places I wish I had traveled to while I was still able, and a few beaches I wish I’d visited more often, but if those are my regrets, I can’t complain. You’ve put me in a contemplative space. Lol Time to go to bed.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      That’s awesome, Lisa! 😃💕 Sounds like you don’t have any regrets worth counting! That’s always the best way to live! And 60 is the new 50 anyway. 😉

  13. memadtwo 5 months ago

    Ambitious! But I love the colors and the way the 3 birds fit together.
    You are definitely an inspiration to get up every day and make some art. Also your optimism is a good antidote to the news. Keep up the good work! (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Thrilled you enjoyed my birds! And glad you’re enjoying my optimism. Yeah, the news doesn’t seem to be the best place to find that these days.

  14. Fatima Chamkha 5 months ago

    You parrots are so vibrant !

  15. shawnthompsonart 5 months ago

    Nice parrots, very colourful!!

  16. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 months ago

    Beautifully painted here. I lived in Hawaii as a kid and took ballet lessons in downtown Waikiki. After the lesson, there was usually enough time to visit the International Market Place where I looked forward to chatting with the local mynah birds, who were loquacious and funny.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 months ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Oh wow! What a fun memory! I’ve never been to Hawaii, but hope to visit one day! Sounds lovely!

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