Saturday, February 23, 2019

Fertility a Work in Progress

Pomegranate, 2019, Oil on Board, 8"x10"
I've reconsidered the leathery skin color of the pomegranate halves.  There is still at least one more session on the skins.  Reds can be difficult to work with. When tinting they can become opaque and pink rather than a bright light red.  

Hera, 2014, Oil on Board, 24"x18"
Hera, the Greek Goddess and wife of Zeus, shares the pomegranate symbol with Persephone. Ancient images of Hera sometimes depict her with the pomegranate.  The ample and deep red seeds associate the pomegranate with fertility and blood.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Fertility a Work in Progress

Pomegranate, 2019, Oil on Board, 8"x10"
Initially I considered the pomegranate as a prop for a bird in much the same way I used the orange and Baltimore Orioles together.  Since, I wanted a natural relationship, my research found only parrots or the Arizona Verdin.  Neither appealed to me.  So, as it stands now I will give the pomegranate a solo performance.  

Throughout history pomegranates have been a symbol of prosperity and abundance.  Most notably in Greek mythology it symbolizes Persephone's time in hades. Images of Persephone show her holding 7 pomegranate seeds symbolizing her 7 months in hades and the northern hemisphere's 7 months of winter.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Synchronized Swimming, A Work in Progress

Synchronized Swimming, 2019, Oil on Board, 12"x24"
Upon returning to direct application of paint, I lightened the blue and eliminated the orange band behind the birds as I didn't feel there was adequate contrast.  

Cornell University's ornithology lab is a great resource of information about birds.  They say the following of the Carolina Wren. 
  • Unlike other wren species in its genus, only the male Carolina Wren sings the loud song. In other species, such as the Stripe-breasted Wren of Central America, both members of a pair sing together. The male and female sing different parts, and usually interweave their songs such that they sound like a single bird singing.
  • One captive male Carolina Wren sang nearly 3,000 times in a single day.
  • A pair bond may form between a male and a female at any time of the year, and the pair will stay together for life. Members of a pair stay together on their territory year-round, and forage and move around the territory together.
  • The oldest recorded Carolina Wren was at least 7 years, 8 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Florida in 2004. It had been banded in the same state in 1997.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Synchronized Swimming

Drawing Preps for Carolina Wren
As our winters have warmed, the Carolina Wren has been a frequent visitor to our Massachusetts backyard for several years.  I've had to discourage it from nesting in our kitchen window box.  It seemed happy enough to relocate to our shed.  But, because of the very harsh winters the past two years, they have not been around.  As the name indicates, they are a southern bird which are sensitive to cold weather. I'm hoping to see a return this spring.  The long, upward-cocked tail, the white eyebrow strip and the burnt sienna and ochre color rewards the eye.  Only the male sings, and with such glee and voracity. My planned composition is to position 10 of them across the bottom of the board where they will be reflected in a band of water. 
Oil on Board, 12"x24"
The board has begun with an application of blues and ochres.  I intend to apply transparent white over this base in another attempt at indirect painting.  The value should be lightened to a great degree.  Thankfully oils are very forgiving.  If all fails, direct painting it will be.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Chickadees on the High Wire

Chickadees on the High Wire

The Black-Capped Chickadee is a tiny little bird at about 5-6" long with a short neck and large head.  It is very acrobatic, can perch side-ways and upside down, and often does so on slender twigs and weedy stems.  I thought this behavior really lended itself to my "Birds in the Circus" series.  Thus, the little chickadee family became the high wire act in my series.  

The working approach here was to once again use the indirect approach to create the background and the direct method for the birds.  

Monday, February 4, 2019

North River, Marshfield

North River, Marshfield, MA, 2019 20"x20"

The ghost has been vanquished.  It was good to paint a bit larger and use my entire arm to apply paint, not just my fingers as the tiny bird paintings require.  I must give Emily Katherine credit for her photograph that provided a reference source for this painting.  She informs me that the exact location is behind the China Wok in Marshfield.  

Mary Oliver died last month.  Such a great artist's poet.  With respect and in recognition of her work, I post her poem, The River.

The river
Of my childhood,
That tumbled
Down a passage of rocks
And cut-work ferns,
Came here and there
To the swirl
And slowdown
Of a pool
And I say myself–
Oh, clearly–
As I knelt at one–
Then I saw myself
As if carried away,
As the river moved on.
Where have I gone?
Since then
I have looked and looked
For myself,
Not sure
Who I am, or where,
Or, more importantly, why.
It’s okay–
I have had a wonderful life.
Still, I ponder
Where that other is–
Where I landed,
What I thought, what I did,
What small or even maybe meaningful deeds
I might have accomplished
Among strangers,
Coming to them
As only a river can–
Touching every life it meets–

That endlessly kind, that enduring.