I’m back! I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. I was enjoying summer, then was on vacation in Nova Scotia, and all of a sudden it’s October! In between all of that I took on a commission to do three mini 4X4″ collages. Thankfully, my friend and client was understanding, because these seemed to take me forever to do! I had already done a summery flower collage, and she wanted three more to represent the other seasons.
I decided on a cardinal for winter and a blue jay for fall. Spring was a trio of tulips. (They started out as daffodils, but I couldn’t get them to look daffodilly enough!)
As soon as the leaves start popping out on the trees, we put out oranges for the Baltimore Orioles that come up from the south. Soon we hear their melodious song and the first oriole shyly checks out the oranges and the hummingbird feeders. Soon they become very bold and can’t get enough of those luscious oranges!
I had nothing but problems with this painting. When I first worked on it, the background got away from me and got too dark. Then I had trouble with the little fish in his mouth. I worked on that silly fish for days. Also, I worked on it up on an easel, but when I took it down, I realized the support was warped.
I got good feedback on it however, and decided to try and un-warp it and enter it into a show. It wasn’t accepted, and when I went to pick it up, I realized that the new medium I tried for adhering the collage paper had turned milky! And the supports went back to their original warpedness. Grrr. That was enough of that. It was banished to the closet to serve hard time in the dark.
The thing was, it kept whispering to me, usually late at night when I was trying to sleep. So about six months later, I got it back out. My first step was to take the canvas off the old support and put it on a new one. I only gouged one finger getting the staples out! Then got rid of that darn fish and closed the heron’s beak. With a cry of “No Mercy!” (in my head), I slapped white gesso all over the background, leaving a bit of the orange around the edges of the heron, thinking I might use some of that later.
It stayed like that for a day or two, while I stewed and asked myself, “What the heck do I do now?” But I asked some of my wonderful friends their opinions, and that gave me a kickstart. (Thanks Lauren and Tom! And you too, Char. I had asked you a while ago.)
I added some washy colour around the heron, and some reeds. The bottom needed a bit more darks, so added a few. I found patterns in the paper that I used on the bird and accentuated them and placed some similar ones throughout the painting. Finally, I played around with some coloured pencils and oil pastels to add some pops of colour and texture.
I think I’m done now, and it sure has changed! For the better, I think. Now I just have to come up with a title…
A lot of people ask me how I come up with ideas for my art. It usually happens in a roundabout way; I hear a song, or see something that gets me thinking.
Here’s how I came up with the idea for my newest collage. I’ve been wanting to do a collage with grackles for quite a while, but wasn’t sure what the composition would be. I started looking for some grackle photos online at PaintMyPhoto ( which has some great reference photos, by the way). I found some excellent references and then started playing with a composition on my photo editor.
To me, it looked like they were gossiping, so I was trying to think of a title about gossip. Gossiping Grackles wasn’t too exciting. Grackle Cackle was a strong contender, but it just wasn’t right. I like to put music and words in my collage, so I decided to do some research into songs about gossip. One of the songs that stood out was I Heard it Through the Grapevine, a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966. My favourite version is by Marvin Gaye.
Well, that solved my composition problem and gave me a title for the piece! The grackles could be sitting on a grapevine, and I could have the music and lyrics throughout the collage. I hope to enter this into the annual Paint Ontario juried exhibit in a few days. Also, these are numbers 12, 13 and 14 of my 100 Birds challenge!
My flock is getting bigger! Here are two more additions, an Eastern Bluebird (#5) and our old friend, the Indigo Bunting (#6). These are torn paper collage on a mixed media background. (Which was really hard to photograph, BTW!) I guess I’m wishing for spring already, because this pair is called Spring Song.
The song that kept going through my head while I was creating these was:
Blue Skies by Irving Berlin
Blue skies smilin’ at me Nothin’ but blue skies do I see Bluebirds singin’ a song Nothin’ but bluebirds all day long
It’s a new year, and I’ve decided to embark on an adventure. This adventure will probably take more than a year, but I’m going to try to paint or collage 100 birds! Birds are one of my favorite subjects and there are thousands and thousands of species to choose from. Although I’m going to try and do as many different species as I can, I can’t promise that I won’t be sticking with a favourite or two! (Crows come to mind.)
Although I have done a couple of bird paintings fairly recently, I will start from when I decided to do the series, which was today!
This is a small watercolour, one of the contenders to enter the Twitter Art Exhibit this year. She is a lovely female cardinal and I’ve named her Northern Lady.