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Birds at Play

Updated: Apr 4

Birds at Play is a mural and temporary public work commissioned by the City of West Palm Beach’s ArtLife Public Art program: 8 Artists 8 Spaces. It consists of a wallpaper mural installed at the entrance to the Mandel Library, a showing of 8 framed original watercolors on the 4th floor, and a public workshop held in the library on October 14th!

My intention with the mural is to celebrate and contribute to the education about our local species. I hope that viewers come away with a feeling of playfulness and joy, and connectedness to these species and our shared local habitats.

Images of the mural:

Images of the original art installation:

Original paintings are available, here

Archival ink prints from this series are available, here.

Poster: Places in Palm Beach County to see birds! (Kim's recommendations):

Accompanying the mural is a poster with images and descriptions of 6 parks in the county that I enjoy, and that would be good places to go bird watching! I visited and photographed each location during the creation of this project, enjoying the sights and feelings of being in nature.

Use the slider below to read about all 6 locations!

Video Documentation by David Rubinson:


I applied for the project in October of 2022 and began working on the paintings in January of 2023. All 11 paintings and the final mural image were completed in May, and then installed by Signarama of West Palm Beach on September 18th.

Initial sketches:

Final Bird paintings:

Click to enlarge the image, and see below for descriptions

1. Swallowtail Kites 20x20" Of course, right from the beginning I knew I was going to be painting swallowtails AND actual kites (the toy) flying together in formation.

2. Laughing Gulls 20x20" I painted this pair together, and enjoyed envisioning them having a convo. My original plan was to have one with its head back "laughing" but I later figured that might look kind of weird, since I've never seen a seagull do that in flight. Still, the name warrants them a spot on this mural!

3. Kites 22x30" A little different from my normal work and I really enjoyed the challenge. It had a unique feel and spirit to it while painting. I loved it. The butterfly is a Palamedes Swallowtail, a little Florida native species easter egg!

4. Monarch. 7.5x7.5 I generally feel like monarchs are easy to paint, but this one I had to redo once. I also went in and lightened up the back wing in photoshop because I feel like it looks better that way

5 & 6. Whistling Ducks 20x20" I think they are very striking bird. This pair will be very near each other in proximity on the mural, but I made them each a little too large to fit on one sheet of paper, so I painted them separately. I spent a looooot of time pouring over reference photos, and I'm pleased with where I landed in the end.

7. Purple Gallinule 16x14" I love their vibrant colors and comically large feet. They are one of my favorite birds.

8. Herring Gulls 14x10" Several years ago a video of a herring gull perched atop another one mid-flight circulated the internet widely and this piece is my recreation of that silly event. It always makes me giggle to think a

bout so I felt like it had a place in this mural.

9. Great Egret 22x30" Painting while birds on a white background is a practice in restraint!!

10. Great Blue Heron 22x30" I was the most excited to create this piece. It was one of the first birds I sketched over 6 months ago and I'm trilled to finally see it become a real painting. It's also holding my favorite flower!

11. Painted Bunting 8x10" For the longest time I wasn't sure what species of small bird this would be. I had sketched the design but hadn't decided on a species. I finally settled on the bunting because of how exciting it is to find one in the wild! I think it's a fun reference to the joy of birds. The blade of grass it holds mirrors the tails of the kites.

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