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 every time. The mechanics of bird 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

Archival ink on Mulberry Paper
30” H x 25.25” W. Unframed. 2022 © Kristin Maija Peterson I $2000

It all started when I was visited by seven starlings (to be exact) one cloudy late March afternoon. They captured my imagination and curiosity which lead to the piece you see above. 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.

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

Color Pencil on Cason Drawing Paper
10” H x 10” W. Unframed. 2022 © Kristin Maija Peterson I NFS

If you were to visit my studio, you would see a scattering of abandoned birds’ nests as I collect what interests me and is 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.

northern flicker watercolor on snow white background © Kristin Maija Peterson

One Snowy Day

Watercolor + Graphite Pencil on 300lb 100% Cotton Hot Press Fabriano Watercolor Paper.
34.5” H x 27.5” W. Framed. 2018 © Kristin Maija Peterson I $1200  SOLD

The Northern Flicker (Woodpecker family) is so striking no matter the season. 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.

Ophelia, a robin bird nest built using plastic situated in a crab apple tree drawing in watercolor pencil by visual artist Kristin Maija Peterson


Watercolor Pencil on 140lb 100% Cotton Hot Press Stonehenge Watercolor Paper.
30.75” H x 26.75” W. Framed. © 2020 Kristin Maija Peterson I $1800

I want to live in a time before plastic. That would place me around 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 it had created. 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.

There on a lovely bright sunny autumn day, I look up to see a robin’s nest partially constructed with one of those single-use plastic bags you find in the produce aisle. With plastic lining its sides, her nest insulated against moisture. The loose plastic blowing in the wind acts as a deterrent from predators looking for baby birds to eat. Still, I speculate about the long-term damage plastic exposure has on her offspring and no doubt herself.

I should be careful of what I wish for. Plastic has improved our lives in many ways. Yet, recycling plastic has become the biggest lie the oil industry has led us to believe. Eliminating consumer-based plastic is a start and that will take time, alternative resources, and changing habits.

large free range black chicken found roaming an organic coffee plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii drawing in color pencil by visual artist Kristin Maija Peterson

Smiling Hawaiian Black Hen

Color Pencil on Cason Drawing Paper.
17” H x 16.5” W. Unframed. 2019 © Kristin Maija Peterson I $900

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.


Where It All Started

The Three Muses (Flamingos)

Oil pastel + color pencil on Cason drawing paper.
18.5” x 13” I Unframed I $900
2014 © Kristin Maija Peterson

If God Will Send His Angels

Oil pastel + ink on artisan paper.
8” x 8” I 12 x 12” Framed
Auction Donation for ArtReach St.Croix Fundrasier
2014 © Kristin Maija Peterson

Little Red Bird (Scarlet Tanager)

Oil pastel + ink on artisan paper.
9” x 5.5” I Unframed I NFS
2014 © Kristin Maija Peterson

What Mamas Do (Finches)

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


10% of all Terra Kind Studio’s annual sales of original artwork and prints are donated to nonprofits working on environmental and climate change issues. By supporting this local artist, you can have beauty on 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 nonprofit 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 within native wild spaces and its inhabitants found living there. She sees all living creatures as kin and is always kind to spiders.

Contact the Studio

p: 651 318 7100

Subscribe to our newsletter

Limited Edition Botanical Prints: Shop The Origins Collection.

free beautiful black and white ink print of patterned stones via Terra Kind Studio

(for the month of February only)

Expect to hear from me about once a month. I’ll send you a short Studio Story, first peeks at New Artwork, details on Upcoming Art Exhibits, and much more. Not too much. Never boring. Just the good stuff!

Welcome! You’ve successfully subscribed to Terra Kind Studio News. Your Print Is On Its Way!