single dark bird feather drawing by visual artist Kristin Maija Peterson

For the Love of Birds

From 2014 to Present

Bringing birds into my repertoire has pulled me out of terrible dry spells and creative funks. Birds lift me up. They taught me how to meditate for who can think of anything when observing birds. The mechanics and beauty of their flight is an ongoing fascination. How ever do they do it?

The reality is that there is an ongoing decline in bird populations around the world. According to a study published in the journal Science North America alone has nearly three billion fewer birds today compared to 1970—that’s more than 1 in 4 birds that have disappeared from the landscape in the past 50 years. It’s not just threatened species, it’s our backyard favorites that are disappearing, too.

Seven Starlings with Dandelion Design on mulberry paper © Kristin Maija Peterson 2022

Seven Starlings

All of a sudden I was visited by seven starlings (to be exact) one cloudy late March afternoon. Having never seen starlings (at least not up close) their stunning appearance held my imagination and curiosity that led to the piece you see on the left. You can read the backstory here. It’s about birds, of course, and our relationship with them, a different kind of immigration and bringing together two perceived pests into something of beauty. I think you’ll find it fascinating.

Archival ink on Mulberry Paper
30” x 25.25” (unframed)
© Kristin Maija Peterson / 2022

small bird next constructed in part with plastic packaging isolated on white background drawn with color pencils by visual artist Kristin Maija Peterson

Choices In Construction

Visit me in my studio, you would see a scattering of abandoned birds’ nests. I like to collect what interests me and small enough to carry back to the studio. What saddens me is that more often than not I find nests built with plastic woven in with organic nesting materials. As in the earlier Ophelia piece (see below), I see the practicality of using plastic and at the same time its dangers.

Color Pencil on Cason Drawing Paper
10”  x 10”  (unframed)
© Kristin Maija Peterson / 2022

northern flicker watercolor on snow white background © Kristin Maija Peterson

One Snowy Day

This bird of the Woodpecker family is striking no matter the season, even more so when he happens to land into the snow as if you were waiting for his arrival all along. Alone on a snowy day, I’ve made him a regal general. Though I was nervous about being true to his spotted feather pattern, in the end, I feel I did him justice.

$1200 (SOLD)
Watercolor + Graphite Pencil on
300 lb. 100% Cotton Hot Press Fabriano Watercolor Paper
34.5” x 27.5” (framed)
© Kristin Maija Peterson / 2018

large vertical watercolor pencil view looking up into the branches of a crab apple tree with ripe red fruit and with a bird’s next constructed with single use plastic flowing in the wind from the nest, titled Ophelia for how the Shakespearean character’s costumes became looser and flowing as Ophelia lost her mind


I want to live in a time before plastic. That would have been 1907 when my grandmother was just a little girl. Ironically, plastic was to relieve stress and dependence on natural resources. Wood, metals, ivory, horn, and tortoiseshell are finite. At first, plastic was a good thing for the environment. We were free to develop the things that served a need without taking from the natural world.

By the time I entered the world in the 1960s, people were waking up to the plastic nightmare. I remember seeing the now-classic environmental message, the television footage of the Native American who paddles his canoe ashore drawn to tears witnessing the piles of floating plastic trash in his wake. While plastic has improved our lives, arguably in good ways, it continues to be a colossal environmental problem. Plastic is floating around everywhere, including in our bodies.

On a lovely autumn day, I look up to see a robin’s nest partially constructed with a single-use plastic bag you find in the produce aisle. With plastic lining its sides, her nest is insulated against moisture. The loose plastic blowing in the wind wards off predators looking for baby birds to eat. The trade off is the long-term damage plastic exposure has on her offspring and no doubt herself.

Plastic has improved our lives, yet recycling plastic is biggest lie the oil industry has led us to believe. Eliminating consumer-based plastic will take time, along with alternative resources, and changing habits.

Watercolor Pencil on 140lb 100% Cotton Hot Press Stonehenge Watercolor Paper.
30.75”  x 26.75” (framed)
© Kristin Maija Peterson / 2020

Graphite and color pencil drawing of a large free range black chicken found roaming an organic coffee plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii

Smiling Hawaiian Black Hen

Domestic chickens are in no short supply and this is a message on how they should humanly be raised. This pump lovely gal was running around happily on an organic cloud coffee plantation we visited on the Big Island of Hawaii. Look at those legs! Clearly, she gets a free-range lifestyle and given the smile on her face, she is one happy chicken.

Color Pencil on Cason Drawing Paper.
17” x 16.5” (unframed)
© Kristin Maija Peterson / 2019


Where It All Started

color pencil and oil pastel large detailed drawing of flamingos isolated on warm gray Cason paper

Three Muses (Flamingos)

Inspired by my visit to the Salisbury Zoo in Maryland
Oil pastel + color pencil on Cason drawing paper
18.5” x 13” / Unframed / $900
© Kristin Maija Peterson / 2014

large horizontal color pencil and archival ink drawing of a mother finch trying to feed all five of her offspring who are lined up on either side of the mother bird waiting for their turn to be feed

What Mamas Do (Finches)

Oil pastel + ink on artisan paper.
11.5” x 18.25” / Unframed / $900
© Kristin Maija Peterson / 2014

Giving Back.

10% of all Terra Kind Studio Co.’s annual art sales are donated to nonprofits devoted to environmental and climate change issues.
By supporting my work as an artist, you’ll have nature’s beauty dressing your walls while doing good in the world.

All artwork is the sole property of Kristin Maija Peterson and is held under copyright, even after purchase. The images, artwork, and contents of this website may not be copied, collected, or used for personal or professional gain without written permission from Kristin Maija Peterson. All images of artwork, sold or otherwise, are retained by Kristin Maija Peterson.


Terra Kind Studio showcases the creative work of visual artist and designer Kristin Maija Peterson. Growing up among prairies, lakes, rivers, and oak savannas along with her project work with environmental organizations have collectively influenced her creative path. Kristin works in watercolor, graphite, color pencil, oil pastels, and pen and ink, interpreting in detail the beautiful chaos she finds in native wild spaces and its inhabitants who call these spaces home. Kristin sees all living creatures as kin and is always kind to spiders.

Be Kind to Everything That Lives.

Terra Kind Studio Co. logo in terra cotta color

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