(Oil, 16x26") Price: $1100.00 SOLD
It's fascinating when an idea takes a full decade to come to fruition. This is what happened with this painting, 'Sleepers
'. The robot head used in the background belongs to a Japanese film artifact collector in Koriyama, Japan, and when we were visiting in 2002 and stopped to visit, he allowed us to take many photos. For some reason, this robot head fascinated me - perhaps it was the aged patina hinting at a story - and I snapped it along with a few others. Over the years, I'd take out the photo from my special projects file and look at it again and tell myself "One day, I'm going to use you in something special". Time passed. I re-engaged my love oil painting so that I've been painting almost exclusively in that medium in recent years. Then came my 'Birds and Bots' series - which currently appears to have no end in sight. Since that started, I have taken photos of friends robots, collected some of my own that have become firm favourites, and taken or collected endless photos of birds and bird environs. Last year we visited the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney again and spent a lot of time in the walk-through bird sanctuary there. I was busily snapping away with my brand new camera that sported a wonderful telephoto lens feature, allowing me to get some great close up pictures. Suddenly, I came up on this sleeping group of mixed birds in front of a shadowy, dome-shaped moss-covered rock. I stared. Epiphany hit me upside the head...and I though "There! There is my robot painting with the Japanese robot head!". Exactly where the hole was in the rock is the same spot where the forehead star is on the robot. This composition followed me home to the USA and sat with me until I painted it. It took awhile as I had other paintings to complete, but here it finally is...
Here is the original concept drawing for 'Sleepers'. In the decades or centuries that the robots have been buried, the local wildlife and birds have become accustomed to their presence and the low, subliminal soothing hum the sleeping robots emit.
Here is the first snapshot of the easel...all drawn up and ready to lay paint. A bit of outline, a bit of shading in a couple of spots - just enough to give me a guideline. I don't believe in putting in every detail of an under drawing. I like to create with the paint on the canvas. There's a certain amount of freedom I enjoy in doing that.
First part of the under-underpainting... The background is loosely put in and blended with a big, fluffy watercolour brush to give it some depth and lost edges.
Background completely painted in and the eye detail of the robot heads painted in. The patina on the heads themselves is completed in this stage as well. Paint is laid side by side in patches and then whisked together with a blending brush. Dots and highlights are added in as well. Add a dot, blend, retouch the highlight...again and again until the finish is satisfactory and there is a certain amount of visual depth achieved.
The large bird and its immediate environment are filled in. Tweaks and additions to the bird's feathers will be done in the next stage, otherwise it is generally complete, worked wet in wet technique.
Left hand side detail before doves are painted in...
It took me two days to paint all ten Peaceful Doves and the foliage around them. All the birds were painted as I usually do them: wet in wet technique. It was demanding, but a lot of fun. The ducks in the lower right hand corner took a day as well. The last things painted were the leaves in the lower left hand corner and the rough ground in the middle foreground. All in all, this painting is the largest thing I've painted in a very long time, but it has the distinction of being the best painting I've ever done. I'm ever so proud of it.
Palette consisted of: Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Raw Sienna, Sap Green, Titanium White, Cadmium Orange Hue, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Lemon, and a tiny bit of Alizarin Crimson in the robot helmets. Brushes ranged from half and one inch Flats, a really great half inch Angular Shader that was perfect for creating edges and lost edges in a very serendipitous manner, small size two and four Rounds, and of course the big Winsor and Newton watercolour brushes for blending. I also have some ragged rounds I use for blending in tight spots as well, so don't ever throw your old worn brushes away: they come in very handy for spreading paint, blending, and also creating speckle effects in space paintings.
Anyway, that's it for this painting. I have two more to post about in the next few days, so please stop by again soon and see what I'm up to.
Labels: birds, Birds and bots, robots