First the statue: Progress often involves a shedding process, which explains why a crow (which symbolizes death) would have a place in this composition. Certain paths are no longer desirable.
Now the crow's feathers on the right: They have a shape and a function. If you were to pick them up, they would keep their shape, and we know how feathers function as part of a bird. The feathers are part of the visible world. They're like clues. Notice that one of the feathers is lit with a cool light, and one is lit with a warm light. That's a reference to the unconscious (warm color, larger size) working with consciousness (cool color, smaller size).
Now the drapery: If you move it, it won't keep its shape. It’s also much larger and more colorful than the objects. The warm shadow areas on the sides represent the unconscious churning that is hidden by a calm exterior. The calm exterior is driven by the conscious mind; a linear, methodical thought process—reason. Reason is represented by the areas of the drapery that are lit with cool light. The intersection of that area of brightest, coolest light and the crow's beak represents the intersection between inner development and outward results. It's a tiny area of the composition, but it's the focal point.
So ... if you undertake any creative process, the visible part (represented by the objects) is only the result of lengthy, convoluted inner activity, most of which cannot be controlled or directed.
Why, then, did I title the painting “The Slow Pace of Decay,” and not “The Slow Pace of Development”? Because outward decay often accompanies inner development, and after all, the subject of this painting is the crow.
Let me explain: If the painting were heavily ornamented—lots of spiky details, for example—the frame should be simple. If the objects in the painting are smooth and simple—as they are here—the frame should have some ornamentation, which gives the whole piece glamor and finish. In this case, it’s that metallic ornamentation that says “fine art.” It’s like jewelry for a painting.