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Fables of the sparrow and the swallow

These fables are the last two of the series I have been reworking this year: all in all twelve pairs for 24 drawings, if I don’t count the one with beavers and otters.  I kept them for the end, probably because they were ones of the hardest for me to figure out. Originally I named them overall the charmer, but since I have been giving each side its own name. The first one, called the pleaser, is for when we prefer (or have to) be nice despite ourselves, and the second one, called the challenger, is for when we tend to speak our mind or show how we feel.  

What struck me most about the person that was my inspiration for these drawings is how she is as beautiful on the inside as on the outside. She was telling me people typically ignore what’s inside of her because they only consider her looks, and was curious to know what I would draw for her. On my way home I got the answer with two images that popped in my mind. One was the scene from Forest Gump where Jenny is on the balcony on new year’s eve and the other was that of a small bird held in two hands, as to be protected.  

In the drawing I figured there would be some type of bird, and to represent that it needed protection I added the fox and made the bird hide in a house. To symbolize beauty I picked the magnolia tree, but I made the branches go through the house as to represent pain. That day my friend was saying how much her arms hurt from having to hold them up for work all the time.

I placed two birds flying away, like at the end of the scene where Jenny and Forest are praying in a field for her to turn into a bird so she could fly far away. From there all I did to find the opposite is reverse every symbol, sort of like an equation. The fox becomes a friendly dog, the bird got out of the house, and placed on the dog’s head with all the other birds watching. I was thinking of Jenny’s dream in the movie to be a singer on a stage.

I almost renamed the first drawing the gatekeeper, and in that case the second one would have been the charmer. I thought perhaps the bird could represent a person who’s reserved and has a hard time trusting people because of past hurts. But as I watched all the scenes with Jenny back to back a few times it dawned on me that on the contrary she is nice to pretty much everybody. And she appears to only get hurt that way. So the pleaser seemed like a much more fitting name. And for the haiku I decided to make the bird a sparrow, because they are symbol of self-worth.

To find the opposite name I looked for antonyms of the verb endure, which lead to oppose and then finally challenge. For the bird I chose the swallow because it symbolizes objectivity and also fighters – in England a swallow tattoo means being a good fighter. 

animal archetype illustration story

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