Tuesday, March 6, 2012

heron finished for now

Great Blue of Plaza Street
36" x 36"
acrylic on canvas

I took the photo of the painting above after work and before taking the piece to our first critique at the Spring grad class I'm taking. So we're over halfway finished with the class and this is all I've got done so far. It was to my relief that I wasn't the only one with one or two paintings to show, as I think folks who, like me, were in the previous class are also learning to slow down, focus and work more critically. I know that a lot of the reason it's taking me so long is the size I'm working with, though unlike with the last painting (the big turkey vulture), which was the same size, this one doesn't seem so large anymore. Still, I think the 36" x 36" dimension is about as big as I want to get for now. The painting itself is also, for now at least, finished, though I no longer consider a work ever quite finished, and I've got a feeling that in a week or so, things I haven't noticed before about this one will become painfully obvious, as far as touch ups, details, etc. are concerned, but I need to move on to the next one now and at least get two paintings done by the end of class (my original intent was to complete three, but that probably won't be happening).

I'm focusing now on the concept of how local wildlife adapts, survives and even thrives in increasingly congested, human populated areas, in this case, in the suburbs of Leesburg and Northern Virginia. I've amassed, over the last couple of years or so, quite a few photos of animals dwelling in both natural and man-made (and sometimes both) places in and around where I live. The heron was no exception, and it was something I would have missed if I had not been actively looking on my way home from work. One thing about painting and taking lots of pictures of your surroundings is that it causes you to look around more and mentally comprehend your surroundings more thoroughly. What was fascinating about this gorgeous bird was how it stood like an almost majestic monument to calm and stillness, in this relatively small patch of woods near a neighboring road, bustling with cars full of people in a rush to get to somewhere. I was really fortunate that it stuck around long enough for me to be able to get my camera (which I need to carry with me more), run down the street, cross the road and sneak up to it from behind, from about twenty yards away, where I got a couple of good shots before it quickly, gracefully disappeared into the trees. I knew right away that this mighty bird would be the first subject of my next painting, which for now, I'll call done.