Thursday, February 16, 2017

Beginning a New Bird Portrait Series: RAVENS

Raven Watching and Raven Warning (c) Pat Dolan - 2017 - 9"w x 12"h - Available

I've long been an admirer of Crows and Ravens. I've collected photographs, stories, websites and more in my efforts to learn more about these intelligent birds. And since I've been painting bird portraits for awhile now, it was only a matter of time before I began a series on Ravens/Crows.

And since my first Hereford portraits on black canvas, the idea of painting Ravens on black canvas was a natural first step into this series. I had originally planned to add colors - to liven up the personalities of each bird. I've seen wonderful crow paintings by such artists as Dean Crouser and Bev Jozwiak and I love all the colors they add to their works of art.

My first attempt on black canvas included using blues, purples, black and white to illustrate what I believed to be the personality of the Raven I was painting. I generally work on several paintings at a time, and I had three separate works on two easels and my drawing table. The second and third paintings wouldn't allow me to use anything other than black and white paint to portray the Ravens I had selected. The longer I worked, the more it became obvious that MY paintings were destined, at this time for sure, to remain monochromatic in black and white! Much as I wanted to add a dab of bright blue or shocking red, the birds involved were very much against such a portrayal!

Raven Watching (c) Pat Dolan - 2017 - 9"w x 12"h - Available

As artists, we do learn from our works. It sounds absurd that a painting tells the artist how to paint it or what colors to use, but the longer one works as an artist, the more one pays attention to the communication between the art and the artist. It is vital now, for me, to pay attention to what my piece wants to say and how it wants to say it.

Raven Warning (c) Pat Dolan - 2017 - 9"w x 12"h - Available

So here you see the three paintings I have thus far been working on. The one on top is, I think, not quite done. The other two are now at the framers to be suitably enhanced by a subtle black with silver-rubbed-into-the-wood frame. We tried lots of different frames - the black frames did nothing to enhance the work. The gray frames that had the slightest tint of wood tone or other warm color definitely clashed with the work. Finally we tried the black with a hint of silver and the paintings both shone with delight. The art also tells you what frame to use!

All three in the Raven series are 9" x 12" acylic paintings on black canvas. I'm uncertain as to whether or not the top Raven - which feels to me like a young bird - is complete or not. I have the feeling that it is not, so I'm just waiting for it to tell me what's next...perhaps a touch of blue to the eye, guaranteeing that it is a juvenile Raven. Time will tell - or rather, the bird will let me know!


marilyn hesemann said...

I love your new raven series, Pat. Using the black canvass is very effective. The ravens would approve! I'm so glad that your recovery after the shoulder surgery has gone so well that you're right back to painting. Marilyn

Anonymous said...

Your ravens are spectacular! And I enjoyed you comments about your art telling you what it needs. Makes good sense to me! Thanks so much. Pat Danielson

Pat Gangl Dolan said...

Thanks, Marilyn and Pat. I'm thoroughly enjoying meeting these Ravens one at a time. They seem to have strong personalities!