Saturday, April 10, 2010
I confess that this is a somewhat self-serving post. I'm putting up this version of the Palm Warbler drawing so that I can see it online. I could also do so by just looking at it on the computer. But I prefer to put it on the blog, along with some explanation. Some artists look at their painting in a mirror. I used to sneak up on mine. I'd go away and come back in the room and see how it hit me just as I peaked in the door.
You might think this seems silly or unbelievable. But I think it's safe to say many artists don't really know what they're doing. They have to do it, sneak up on it, and then see if it gives them a clue as to how to proceed. Authors talk about their characters taking over the plot and determining where it will go. The same is true in art. So putting this online may give me a clue as to what to do next.
I have always been struck by the brilliant white of the limestone on Dike Road at Horicon Marsh, especially in conjunction with the background reeds. The new reeds are green and maroon with bits of yellow and orange. The old dead reeds are a pale ochre. But then as you look back into them you see the richest dark. It would make Velazquez, Goya and Manet jealous.
Add to this scene one elegant Palm Warbler and you can see, I hope, why I chose to draw it. But there are extreme color contrasts: the cool white of the rocks, the deep rich reds, oranges, greens and black of the reeds. And then the sublty colored dun-browns of the warbler. How you put them all together in one painting?
Well that was the challenge here and I haven't solved it. I thought adding some color to the limestone might help. But if it has it's surely not enough to do the trick. Past experience tells me the answer will be simplification. It often is in art. You go back and forth, round and round, and finally you simplify. We shall see.
Monday morning - added the newest version at top. Still deciding on whether it needs more work.
Wednesday afternoon. Yep it is done! I didn't really see the need for a separate post for this. But in case you were waiting, on pins and needles, to see if I was going to change it the answer is no.
This is a more ambitious drawing than many of mine. But it may seem like a less successful drawing. The warbler is secondary at best. But that is fine with me. Birds exist in a world, not in isolation. I'm not a big fan of bird portraits. I prefer them in their environment. And though I've never been a great fan of Robert Bateman I am impressed by his desire to show the environment in which his subjects live. (And of course I'm impressed by his devotion to saving the environment from the many thousands of people who are all to happy to destroy it and everything in it.To me birds aren't trophies to be put up on pedestals. They're real creatures in a real world. And this is a real scene, the only modification being the addition of the wild lettuce. It did show up in other photos I took of same scene so it was nearby.
My guess it that this may not be my most popular art. But I do think it is one of my best works of the last year.