Monday, July 12, 2010
Some Backgound, Or Not
Birds live in an environment, not in the idealized frame of a painting or drawing. So I've never been that fond of bodiless bird 'portraits' or bird 'vignettes', where they're centered on the page with a vague background that disappears into blank paper as it nears the edge of the frame. Consciously or not I think most artists who use birds as subjects, or even animals in general, make a decision about a background.
Should I use one? Should it be so detailed as to almost conflict with the primary subject but nonetheless be true to how the bird actually exists? Should it be something that's generalized from something real? Should instead the pattern of marks, patterns, colors, values in the painting become as important as the subject itself? Many questions and many individual answers.
Recently I've been trying harder to include a background that is representative of the one that my bird subjects live in. That was true in the Blue-winged Teals of my last post. But today, after I'd finished painting this American Oystercatcher, I just couldn't see how a background would do anything but detract from this. Sometimes you do a simple work, that seems to get the essence of what you're trying to portray. Then any addition seems extraneous and distracting. That was the case here.