Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Painting birds in an impressionistic style...

Matty art-directed me with these paintings. He's taking an art class right now and is helping me learn to be a bit more creative and looser in my style. He's all about creating something different and new, so he challenged me to get a little modern. In his exact words, "We all know you can paint and draw a bird, but can you make it interesting?" Okay professor....

Painting #39 Northern Cardinal in Evening Snow

I saw this bird in the dead of winter at a local park. Snowflakes were falling heavily and all was quiet except for the muffled sound of new snow consistently accumulating on old snow--a special sound you have to strain to hear, but one that refreshes and soothes. The bird was hidden deep in the center of an oversized bush, protected by branches as night was beginning to fall. The temps were wickedly frigid and this fellow was fluffed to gargantuan extremes. He was one of the most beautiful cardinals I had ever seen.

I had originally painted this guy in full form sitting on a branch, but Matty said, "Nope...get rid of the branches and show me something interesting." So...I just started painting over the branches and the bird, thickly applying paint where it felt good, remembering the darkness...and the cold...and the silent sound of falling snow. Eventually this fellow emerged, and Matty liked him. He liked the chunkiness of the brown paint and the fact the only things in focus were the bill and eyes. He said it was an interesting painting because you had to think about where the bird was and what he was doing.

Painting #40 Goldfinch in the Grass

A saw this little American Goldfinch in a meadow last year. He was surrounded by green leaves and brown grass. Autumn was just starting to creep in, and he was looking a bit scruffy as he carefully poked through teasel stalks. His molt had just begun and his beautiful breeding plumage was starting to fade into the subdued shades of winter, but as I stood in the field and watched him, thoughts of winter were no where around. It was hot that day...very hot, and it felt like summer would go on forever.

I also had already painted a branch with this one and was about to paint the teasel seed head the bird was looking at when Matty said, "Why do you want to add that in? You don't need it. It's interesting right now to see him in the intense green. There's energy. Leave him alone and get rid of the branch." I stammered, "Really? Don't I need to add details to the bird....don't I need to add shadow?" He added, "Mom, can you tell it's a goldfinch?" I shook my head yes. "Then...leave it." So I did, and I love it! I can feel the heat of the day and the sweetness of the bird. I remember everything without seeing the detail.

Painting #41 Autumn Chickadee

Chickadees are my favorite bird. I can hear their cheerful sounds outside my kitchen window all year long. It never fails, as soon as a Chickadee sound registers in my brain, happiness and joy follow! They are happy little powerhouses, and it seems they have the same effect on lots of people. Thank goodness for Chickadees (especially in grey and frigid February). I saw this fellow last year too. He was about 20 feet off the Little Miami trail washed in a blaze of autumn color. Temps were just starting to drop, and he was working hard to gather food for the winter.

Well...this painting does not carry with it Matty's seal of approval. We love the background and the soft warmth of the autumn color, but unfortunately Matty wasn't in the kitchen when I was painting this one, and I added a bit too much detail to the bird, and what on earth was I thinking when I added the "floating" branch? I could go back and paint over it and make it cool, but I'll let it stand as is and move on to the next painting. I already have painting 42 finished and have 43 and 44 in the works. I've got to keep moving if I want to finish the 100 Paintings in a Year Challenge by December 31, 2010!

Matty taught me a lot about freedom with paint in this series. He has a creative eye. Matty, thanks for helping me grow as an artist!

28 comments:

The Early Birder said...

So the pupil turns teacher.
Whilst this may not be my style I can fully appreciate the creative input AND I can still recognise the subject. Well done Kelly.

Laure Ferlita said...

I have the sense of looking at a reflection in water of the cardinal, the goldfinch appears lost among the summer leaves and the chickadee looks as though he is aglow.

Fun pieces, Kelly and kudos to Matty for art directing!

Jeni said...

You know.. I LIKE the floating branch with the Chick-a-dee. I also like the details of the bird against the blurring of fall colours.

The other two are wonderful as well. Kudos for you and Matty!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Well----I don't have an 'eye' for modern art ---and will admit that I have been to art shows and looked at impressionistic style art with a lack of understanding or appreciation...

Mattie must have his mama's creativity ---and is taking it farther... SO--he has become the teacher.

Your photos may not be my fav's ---but I am proud of you for 'expanding your horizon' --and stepping out of the box!!!!!

The first one is my fav --since it looks like you are inside of a window on a cold, snowy, foggy day --looking out at a Cardinal in the tree outside...

Hugs,
Betsy

Penny said...

Like them all but love that cardinal, to me such an imrobable looking bird. It looks so right in that painting, half seen. A paintingIwould love to have.

MjB said...

Kelly, and you did all this *without* Photoshop? ;-)

Take care,
---Mike

Louise said...

I like them all, but I really like the goldfinch.

forestal said...

These are wonderful, very nice and thanks for sharing

dan

forestal said...

These are wonderful, very nice and thanks for sharing

dan

Wanda..... said...

Love the Cardinal, Kelly, but there is something special about the Goldfinch too, maybe it's his slightly down turned head! Chickadees are cute no matter what!

The small photo of the Cardinal, on my reading list, looks like a reflection in water.

Grizz………… said...

For me, the cardinal just does it all. So far as I'm concerned, you can stop right here; no need to move on. That ol' wintery redbird is absolutely wonderful—loose but controlled, exactly right in color and form, with a palpable sense of season and weather. I love it!

dAwN said...

All beautiful...Great teacher! Though, i think your work is awesome and needs no improvement.

Montanagirl said...

Wow - I like his thinking and suggestions. I love the Cardinal painting - it turned out really good!

Margaret Bednar said...

The cardinal is quite an attention grabber with his gorgeous red, the goldfinch is drawn with a great perspective and I just love your description "the floating chickadee". Not sure I would have notice the branch that came out of nowhere if you hadn't mentioned it. I think they are all quite charming and vibrant!

Elaine said...

Ah, to be pushed to expand your horizons by your son, how great is that! He is a wonderful teacher and you are a good student, listening and applying new ideas. I think that's what the 100 painting challenge is about, trying new approaches and methods until you find your own style.

Chris said...

Well, I love when you post this kind of message... I definitively love your paintings and I found you artist touch very special and enjoyable... Thanks for sharing this!!!

Jayne said...

OK, so I LOVE that chickadee so, like you, I must like branches... lol! Though I thought the cardinal was wonderful too. How neat to have a different perspective offered by your creative son!

E said...

Matt had the right idea, great colors, hugs to both and congrats.

Warren Baker said...

You might have a few late nights with the 100 challenge Keely :-)

I like all the paintings, they are just so full of colour :-)

Gaina said...

Beautiful! It always amazes me how a subject can look even more alive and vibrant when it's painted in an impressionist manner than when it is done figuratively sometimes :)

Roy said...

They certainly are excellent Kelly.
You have great style all of your own.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! I'm so glad Matty is there to make me work a little harder and see things a little differently. I think that's part of the challenge too...letting go of what's comfortable and not being afraid to show others. It's great to have such a community of birders and artists to help in the journey. The 100 painting challenge is definitely a good thing...

Garden Lily said...

Painting #39 of the Cardinal is amazing! It captures the form and essence of the cardinal so well, and yet impressionistic in the strokes. Wow, I REALLY love that one!

Nicole MacP said...

Very cool paintings! My fave is the cardinal, it's a really interesting-looking image, captures your attention right off the bat!

Banjo52 said...

I really like the think paint and obvious brush strokes in these. Reminds me of Van Gogh. The "thick" color makes for good drama and good contrast to the fluff and lightness of the birds in reality (this is a different reality but just as accurate, I think, as literal reality). I also like the mysteriously floating bird and branch.

Banjo52 said...

P.S. the cardinal really is fantastic.

thecrowsgift said...

Just stumbled on your blog and I really enjoyed this post. I painted my first impressionistic bird yesterday and it was a real challenge for me. I wish I had a Matty giving me art direction! He sounds very wise.

thecrowsgift said...

My favourite is definitely the goldfinch!