Today’s update is all about the birds and bats of Malawi. As much as I love them, I don’t always want them in my studio or classroom…

I just recently added two new drawn “minis” to my site. They include, Trio of Squeezies: Guinea Fowl and Hamsa Hand: Abundance.

The guinea fowl drawing, or trio of “squeezies” as I like to call them, are a nod to my favorite fatty birds in Malawi. Guinea fowl look like bagpipes come to life and sound a bit like them as well.

The original drawing was made as a gift for my German friend Annika who recently left Malawi for Sierra Leone.

birds and bats of Malawi. Guinea Fowl drawing by Kristen Palana

Guinea fowl are known for their industriousness and are powerful symbols of a can-do attitude and spirited work ethic. They also are associated with protection and motherhood due to their fierce determination and courage that they exhibit as guard animals and their displays of tenderness with their flock.

Here’s another recent guinea fowl drawing set against a background of Malawian chitenje bottle caps I made around this time last year as well.

birds and bats of Malawi. Guinea Fowl drawing by Kristen Palana

Another new drawing, this Hamsa hand for abundance (below) was started in South Africa during my recent artist residency and finished in Malawi. It uses symbols of good luck, wealth, and abundance, including the rare 5-leaf clovers on the tips of its three inner fingers.

 Hamsa hands are ancient healing symbols that can be found in many cultures and in all major world religions. Meanings vary slightly, but in general when they are placed facing up, they protect from negative energies and thoughts against evil. When placed facing down, they bring positive energy, prosperity, good luck, and abundance.

birds bats Malawi art

Going Batty

In other recent news, after 20+ (eep!) years teaching art and design on four continents, I can finally share the weirdest thing that has ever happened during a live online class.

Last week I was teaching a course to Mastrius artists mainly based in North America. About ten minutes into the class, I see my cat come in from outside with something in her mouth.

I knew it was a risk to have the door open but really a very slight risk as 99% of the time it’s no issue at all. Plus it was hot and I wanted some fresh air.

I let the class know that something was under the bed behind me but decided to get started with my lecture anyway, figuring that whatever it was, was dead ( a bird? A mouse?) and I could clean it up after the 2 hour session.

Well, I launch into my talk and in my own Zoom window I see something flying around behind me. It then lands right on my desk right beyond my laptop.

It. Was. A. Bat. 🦇

birds and bats Malawi

We looked at each other. I murmured something to the class about taking a moment to “expand their introductions, ” and I turned off my mic and camera.

I was feeling brave, got a dish towel and was going to try to catch and release and then get back to teaching. It was nowhere to be found!

Flabbergasted, I grabbed the laptop, closed the door, went to another room, and asked my sons to ask the two guards on our compound where we rent a house to try and catch it while I continued the lessons.

Long story short, I continued class until 8pm. I tried to get the bat afterwards because nobody could find it. Finally I located it under my desk. It then flew around some more, and our wonderful guards caught and released it outside unharmed. I made them a pizza to thank them and then went to bed exhausted.

My husband was in southern Malawi for the week helping with the flood response. Normally he is the catcher of anything yucky that belongs outside.

All in all, our bat friend was either the world’s worst or best get-to-know-you new class icebreaker!

If I can get a clip of the encounter, I can eventually share a recording as well.

Well, what do you think of the recent drawings? Let me know by telling me your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

That’s all for now….

If you’d like to follow along with me or see more work in progress, please come on over to my Instagram page.