(aka: Feeding Miss Altaira's Little Friends)
(16x20", Oil on Stretched Canvas, Framed)
Price: $1200.00 SOLD
My BIRDS 'N' BOTS paintings have been getting a bit more ambitious of late. I paint close focus moments in time of most of my robots and their bird companions, but every so often I break out into something more complicated like SLEEPERS, or my new painting....BIRD FEEDER. I bought a couple of new robots to add to my small but select collection...and then had a paw through Bob's stash up in the studio toy room. Of the three massive ideas I had this summer, two got painted, and a ringer 'instant idea' using Rover (MAKING FRIENDS) supplanted one of those initial ideas that hasn't finished developing in the dark room of my brain just yet. The other ideas were completely formed in my mind, so I borrowed Robby (largish remote control variety) and my new High Wheel Robot (aka Sparky) and had a little photo shoot. For Robby, I made a hanging bird feeder using some of my craft jewelry findings, a fancy button and some earth coloured seed beads. I'm rather proud of how it turned out and Robby is STILL wearing it. The platter in Robby's other hand was a large metal token I found in a drawer in the studio kitchen. For the birds, I raided my stash of bird photos at hand and in my growing collection of bird books, and also did copious searches on the internet. They had to have the right flight and sitting/standing attitudes to fit my concept of Robby being mobbed by greedy songbirds. The whole premise is that Robby is somewhat put upon to retrieve the bird feeders from the residence garden on Altair 4, refill them and put them back. Here, in my painting, Robby has just refilled the feeders and is returning them to their homes, but is literally mobbed by tiny birds. Well, someone has to do it whilst Miss Altaira is busy, off smooching spacemen and designing dresses... I have ever loved the movie FORBIDDEN PLANET, and this painting is like a love-letter to that imaginative time and place.
I tried very hard to convey the colours and form of Altaira's garden without painting every little detail. To do so would detract from the busy lines of the birds and Robby. All of my robot and bird paintings deliberately have nebulous backgrounds so they don't compete, but enhance the hard-edged lines of the robots.
Drawing up the final design for BIRD FEEDER was time consuming to say the least. I'll confess that I did trace his outline from one of my photo shoot photos, but ended up painstakingly drawing in most of the detail by comparing the actual toy robot and secondary photos just to make sure that I didn't miss anything important. It took me an hour or so to draw down the design on to the canvas, using an enlarged photocopy dusted with graphite powder on the back. I'm sorry, I'm not one of these artists who have a copy center photocopy a drawing onto canvas or watercolour paper, then seal it with resin varnish or Liquin before painting over it in oil or acrylic paint. I like to FEEL the raw drawing beneath my brushes...but I do set it first with a faint mist of Workable Fixative spray before laying paint. And if I haven't mentioned it before, I prefer working on canvas, stretched or backed onto board, rather than masonite or birch panel. I've worked on gessoed masonite over the years and have often found it 'unforgiving' for some reason. I'm not sure why, though. Perhaps I inherently prefer the 'tooth' of a nice fine canvas...usually after a few extra coats of gesso and gently sanded back.
When I was painting BIRD FEEDER, I ended up holding the toy in my left hand and paintbrush in my right hand when painting his head gears and other subtle detail. Photos are alright for design, but it's best to rely on the actual subject/object for intrinsic detail, textures and surfaces, etc. when you can. Funnily enough, one of the birds ended up getting left out of the final design drawing, and only came to light when I was counting beaks and painting them in. Can you see which one is missing? I had to sketch him in with a fine brush and fill in the rest as I normally do when painting birds; wet in wet. Lots of nice smooshes to create feathers and depth...
Here's an easel shot of Robby half finished. Note the drawing and two cobbled together composition photos, neither with perfect coloration I might add. The toy, which stands about 8" tall is off camera to the right. Gotta keep your references handy when undertaking fine detail. I had my nose about a couple of inches from the canvas when painting the birds...all 18 of the little buggers. I need new glasses, and when painting fine detail I like to eyeball what I'm doing up close and personal. The glasses get in the way, sometimes, or my eyes react badly to that close up work whilst wearing them.
Here I am at Illuxcon 6, at the Allentown Museum of Art, Allentown, Pennsylvania two weeks ago, showing off my painting amid my husband's display... Robby has now gone to his new forever home. I guess I'll have to paint another Robby painting of sorts to fill the gap...as I didn't get a lot of time to bond with BIRD FEEDER.
Most of the usual suspects reigned on my palette: Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, Titanium White, Sap Green, Terre Verte, Cadmium Orange Hue, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Cadmium Lemon and Yellow Ochre. Note again, how there is never any tube of black paint anywhere on my palette: I threw them away years ago. All of Robby's glossy black body is painted using Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine - warm black through cool black. That's a trick I learned from Tim Hildebrandt and it has ever stood me in good stead when painting. Brushes were from broad 1" Flats, Filberts, and Angle brushes for the background, and Size 6 Filberts and Flats for the filling in work on Robby, and very fine Size 0 and 1 Rounds for the fine detail and birds. Surprisingly, my big fluffy blending brushes weren't required much. Most of the background soft depths were created 'wet in wet' with the paint brushes specified. I LOVE painting wet in wet...so many happy accidents to be had.
Anyway, that's it for now.
Thanks for stopping by...
Labels: Forbidden Planet, Illuxcon, Marianne Plumridge, Robby the Robot, songbirds, tin toy robots