Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Evolution of a Picture/Print

A few days ago I showed the initial stages of my print of the Louisiana Waterthrush and Ebony Jewelwing at the Wissahickon. At end of this post I'll show the finished print.

For now though I'd like to show what came before the initial stages of the print. That was of course the charcoal drawing that I also showed earlier. But it too had its own origins. Some of them are at top where I show two pages from different sketchbooks.

Both pages are all fieldsketches. The one on the left is over a year old. The main subject is a Red-bellied Woodpecker falling off a tree, along with a large piece of bark, done from memory. Obviously it happened too quickly for me to sketch it as it happened. There's also an overworked sketch of an Acadian Flycatcher. But I didn't even remember doing the dragonfly. Only the stigmas indicate to me that this is most likely another female Ebony Jewelwing.

The page on right is from a few weeks ago and shows a quick sketch of the Louisiana Waterthrush and the Bbony Jewelwing along with some poorly drawn other birds.

None of these are anything to write home about. But I think they show the value of a sketchbook in developing paintings and prints.

The quick watercolor above is also one that I posted here earlier. It's done using Caran d'Ache Neocolor II crayons and is based on the field sketch at top as well as my visual memory. As you can see there is more of a diagonal to the pose than in the fieldsketch. But that is how I remembered it. This waterthrush seems to always have his behind up in the air, pumping all the time. So I wanted to capture that and I think I did a better job here than in the original fieldsketch. I did see the same bird once or twice after the field sketch and he was again in the same pose.

What's interesting to me about this though is that I used this pose, as well as the made up rocks and water, which only approximate what I saw, as the basis for the charcoal drawing and finally the new print.

Some people may wonder why in the world I'm beating this waterthrush/damselfy/horse to death. Mainly because I loved reading about artistic process when I was young and still do.

The other reason is that I feel like I'm finally accomplishing what I set out to do when I started using birds as subjects in 2006: create ambitious works that included them as subjects. The combination of fieldwork, artistic creativity in designing the final composition, and then cutting the lino all add up, at least to me, to something that matches my ambition for what art should do. As an added benefit, and one I never had as an abstract artist, it allows me to portray the natural world that I love.

Above is the final edition. This is print number 4 of 10. There are also two artists proofs.

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