Friday, February 28, 2014

Painting Birds in Flight

As mentioned earlier in this blog, I am at present working on a large blue/white painting. My intention was to create something diffused, rather indistinct, but when I looked into my first layer of paint I saw so many birds I immediately tried instead to capture the avian chaos. One of my main frustrations about bird illustrations is that while the birds are clearly recognizable, a sense of movement is almost always missing. I am not so much interested in distinct differences between species as I am in wanting to capture birds doing their thing on land and in flight, their bodies abstracted into a flurry of shapes suggesting movement forwards and back through time and space.

I have lived with a bird watcher for 28 years and it seems osmosis is finally having its way with me. And with such a flurry of energy! This is a very confusing piece to tame! So far I've found within the rough first layers of paint at least 80 large or small bird shapes of multiple species and artistic genres. (Examples: Perigrine Falcon, Kingfisher, and swan.  Representational, cartoon, and abstract.)

Because the piece is expressively abstracted the viewer has the opportunity to discover wings and feathers or beaks and talons within shapes that a moment before might have looked like gently rolling hills or shifting rocks and twigs. An iceberg becomes an upside down white bird breast becomes an iceberg again. A beak becomes a skull becomes a beak of a bird facing another direction. I'm having so much fun finding all of these points of perspective in the detail that I am wondering if the chaos of flight can actually be handled as well. Maybe this painting is too complex to be tamable. So many dripping avian splatters (bird poop) and whooshing flight lines and then the question of how to make an airy atmosphere feel grounded enough, safe enough, for the viewer to venture into. Part of me doesn't want this painting to be tamed. It's too much fun to fly around in while I'm solving problems with my paintbrush.