Yogi Chris Counce created Birds Doing Yoga as a fun activity with his daughter, Finley, and then the world found him!
On a Saturday In the fall of 2014 I was hanging out with my 5-year-old daughter, Finley, and we were starting to fall into some mindless habits. Watching cartoons, Ipad, etc. I decided we should try creating something instead of just digesting other people’s creations. I went to the local art store and bought a package of decent colored pencils and 1 cheap pad of drawing paper.
We started out drawing whatever came to mind. Finley would pick something and I would draw something else. Whatever we did we taped to the wall in her playroom. We went to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman and took turns drawing the characters. We drew the characters from How to train a Dragon whatever came to mind. We got to the point where we would get up and immediately just head in there and start drawing.
One morning I just had the idea of a bird in (anjenayasana) high lunge. Being a complete bird novice I thought an Oriole was a bright enough bird so I drew it. That bird is the very 1st bird on my IG. You can see how novice it is in many ways. I liked it enough that I decided to do another and it quickly occurred to me that this had endless combinations and it was so fun to see reactions that I decided to continue.
Had we not found something we both loved, one of us would always be doing something we were not into (me playing dolls or her watching NHL games). Soon birds doing yoga had a few followers in social media.
The yoga world is very vibrant on Instagram and the idea just snowballed a little thanks to the hashtag. In mid 2016 the Instagram’s editing team asked to hear the story and I shared this evolution which they featured to their 220 million followers.
How we got here:
In January of 2016 I got an email (in French) from a Yoga Studio in Paris for large poster sized prints of 8 birds. Then I had a buyer in Texas reach out and buy a print of every piece I had ever done. This was the 1st time I had ever considered anyone would want to hang these anywhere other than my daughters playroom. I scrambled, found a printer and delivered them. Later in July the Instagram story was released and it got 750k likes and 4000 comments. My email box was full of requests to purchase prints. So I started with prints and an Etsy shop.
I use cotton paper, pencils, brush tip marker, iridescent ink, calligraphy pens, watercolor, water- soluble oil paint crayons, & white pastels. It started with pencils and gradually the ideas needed more edges and detail so I try everything. I use the calligraphy pens to cut lines and provide contrast on the softer mediums.
I spend time doing a lot of things that sap energy and art does the exact opposite it lifts you up and gets you back on track. I always choose the bird first. I am inspired by color, contrast and detail. I will flip though images on IG until I see something inspiring then cross search the bird name until I have all angles. Then based on the bird’s unique features I will pick a pose that puts the particular bird species in the best light. From here I try to draw the bird exactly as I see it.