This week I completed painting the last of the 10 Ravens I had drawn on canvas and ready to go. I generally work on two or three paintings at a time, allowing some to dry while working on others. Some need to hang on the wall for a day or more, until I feel satisfied that they are complete and ready to go out to the public.
These past two weeks, I've averaged 5 paintings per week, working nearly every day on them. If they were larger paintings, more complex pieces, or subject matter unfamiliar to me, then each would have taken far longer.
By the way, one Raven is going out via Priority Mail to its new owner this week. And another painting - this one is a Gyrfalcon that belongs to our nephew, Tim in Wyoming, will also go out via Priority Mail this week. Here they are before packing.
Raven Preening (12"w x 9"h) is going to Red Bank, New Jersey to another Raven lover!
Gyrfalcon (10" square) is going to Tim, who raises gyrfalcons in Wyoming.
And moving on, questions of "how long did that take" often are heard by artists. Here is my take on that.
Time really doesn't matter to me, especially when I am painting. Even when I'm not! I haven't worn a watch for years, nor do I consult my cell phone for the time. When painting, one steps outside the boundaries of time/space and lives in the essence of meditation. Painting involves the totality of the artist - distractions rarely enter the time/space unless it comes from a strong outside source. With our children grown with kids and grand-kids of their own, I am rarely interrupted. My dear spouse of 51+ years, knows better than to do more than hover outside the studio hoping to catch my attention!
But it's surprising to me just how often people ask artists, "how long did that take you to paint?" It's truly irrelevant to the piece of art. Some pieces fly through the subconscious into the concrete world and almost paint themselves. Other pieces are done with intense scrutiny, deliberate intent, and incredible lengths of time involved in both thinking, planning, and executing a single piece.
For me, the Raven Series and the two Holstein cows - all painted on black, all went fairly quickly. They are not as detailed, they are nearly monochromatic - black, white, and gray, and much is left to the imagination of the viewer. The viewer becomes an active participant in relating to the birds and the cows.
On the other hand, landscapes and portraits of people, take me ever so much more time to plan, draw, and complete. I've always admired details - I love realistic photography and art, although I no longer choose to work in quite that realistic a manner. Realism takes TIME, lots and lots of time. When one is younger, time doesn't really matter. Perfection of a technique is often the driving force.
But as I have aged, I realize that in painting, as in real life, the details really aren't that important. It's the essence of what is being portrayed that matters. Just how one attempts to portray the essence of something is totally unique to each artist - author, poet, musician, actor, all creative people. It is our unique perspective and relationship with what we are creating that comes through to the viewer, reader, audience.
So the bird paintings are essentially coming directly out of my love for and nurturing of birds and wildlife. My painted birds seem to look directly at the viewer and ask for an intimacy between that viewer and the painted bird. And that is a delight to me! It is what any artist would be thrilled to have occur between the audience and the work. An interaction, an exchange, a connection.
My next series of pieces are more birds - can't get them out of my system, so I'm just going with them! Song birds, baby birds, a heron, a couple of Ravens. A dozen small canvases are now prepared and ready for paint. Tomorrow will begin then next period of time where I disappear into the studio and lose all track of time.
Baby Robin (10" square) above and Great Blue Heron (11"w x 14"h) below