Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Bird sightings at or near the farm have been exciting and many. On this snowy day in Litchfield County, stuck here in my chair next to the heater (‘for the duration’ which seems to be days and days...), I’m savoring the memories. The flock of bluebirds gleaning in the apple orchard on a warm October day, Swallows swooping over the green pastures or lining up on the telephone wires this past August, watching the migrating hawks drifting overhead in a warm September sky, a barn owl in a tree a month ago....
I’m pleased with this painting in many ways. It illustrates a bird-sighting that impressed itself on my memory and where I just happened to be with my camera. It was on a Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago. I’d just left my mother’s after lunch and was on my way back home. It was very cold and everything covered with snow because of recent storms. It was good to be out that day having lunch with my mom. Litchfield County was experiencing a break in the weather after several snow storms; everyone was out that day taking advantage of the good weather; visiting, socializing, & stocking up for the next storm at the grocery store. Another storm was forecast that Saturday night into Sunday. That afternoon, the sky was somewhat dark for mid-day and the light filtered through many layers of cloud cover. I stopped to take a photo of the snow covered apple trees branches. When I closed my car door, the sound startled what seemed like hundreds of crows that shot up from the trees and circled over the fields between me and the apple storage barn, cawing, making much noise. There were so many crows – like a Crow Convention! I wondered if the crows had all gathered together to socialize/re-connect and stock up on supplies during the break in the weather, before going back to wherever they shelter during the storms. The moment itself was uplifting. All was quiet except for the sound of the crows calling out and my camera snapping photos. The calligraphy of the crows against the field inspired me to do this painting. The vision reminds me of the deep quiet. Having been there and having a few photos with the shapes of the crows has been most useful to this painting.
In this painting I used Sepia, Cerulean Blue, Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre to mix near and far grays. After the middle ground mid-tone gray was dried, I used masking fluid on a few roof shapes & areas representing snow-covered branches; in the foreground, on the apple tree branches, over a tint of the paint I used in the middle ground. Using Sepia with Cerulean Blue to create the depth of the tone was quite interesting to me. I usually use Burnt Sienna and noticed immediately that the Sepia gave me greater depth as well as the dull light of the day I felt I needed to express/explain the light.
In the end, to make the closer crows stand out from each other and against the tint of yellow in the fields, I applied a somewhat thick glaze of Blue Violet to the crows in the foreground.