How to paint the portrait of a bird

First paint a cage
with an open door
then paint
something pretty
something simple
something beatiful
something useful
for the bird
then place the canvas against a tree
in a garden
in a wood
or in a forest
hide behind the tree
without speaking
without moving...
Sometimes the bird comes quickly
but it can also take years
before deciding
Don't be discouraged
wait for years if necessary
the swiftness or slowness of the coming
of the bird having no bearing
on the success of the painting
When the bird comes
if it comes
observe the most profound silence
wait till the bird enters the cage
and when it has entered
gently close the door with a brush
rub out all the bars one by one
taking care not to touch any of the bird's feathers
Then paint the portrait of the tree
choosing the most beatiful of its branches
for the bird
paint also the green foliage and the wind's freshness
the dust of the sun
and the noise of insects in the summer heat
and then wait for the bird to decide to sing
If the bird doesn't sing
it's a bad sign
a sign that the painting is bad
but if it sings it is a good sign
a sign that you can sign
so then very gently pull out
one of the feathers of the bird
and write your name in a corner of the painting.

(Jacques Prevert. Paroles.)