by | Feb 1, 2020 | The Hungry Eye

 A while back I mentioned switching from fur to feathers. This is presently true. I have two, large diptychs in progress with a fair amount of birds in each. Until they are finished (some vague future as they are not only large but complicated) they stay in the studio. But I realize I have quite a feathered history. It started with a large painting about fighting cocks. I had seen two cocks spar in the Philippines and had held one of the birds. It was almost weightless, brilliantly colored like a melted rainbow and very hot… it seemed to burn my hand. We ate the loser for lunch.


Sunlight Yang

1988  oil on linen  64 X 96
(the sarcophagus is from the Cloisters)

 Later I did a series of small quick ones:

Cockfight 1,2,5,4 left to right, top to bottom

1:  oil on canvas  8 X 10   1989 
2:  oil on canvas  9 X 12   1989
 5:  oil on canvas   8 X 10  1989 
   4:  oil on canvas   11 X 14   1989

I used to save dead birds that I found in my freezer as an actual bird is so much better to work from than a photo.  This would sometimes alarm people who went looking for ice unprepared.

The Freezer Birds

pencil & watercolor on paper    2003    22 X 30:

Studio Life

2003     30 X 44   pencil, watercolor & acrylic on paper   


  2014    22 X 30   pencil & watercolor on paper

The Barred Owl

An owl flew into a friend’s window and died. Knowing about my interest they saved it in their freezer until I could claim it. It was a beautiful creature, especially with its wings outspread. In order to do that I had to thaw it out and tack it, wings open, to a board and replace in the freezer. I did three oil on wood paintings and one watercolor. It also showed up in my documentary, Wolffland, where I animated it back to life.


Owl 1

  2014    18 X 42    oil on wood    

Owl 2

 2014     24 X 24    oil on wood 

Owl 3

 2014    18 X 42 1/2   oil on wood 

Owl & Oyster 

2014     22 X 3:  watercolor & acrylic on paper    

And then there were the mythological hybrids, neither this nor that, but definitely individuals….

Egyptian Divorce 

2001     52 X 64   oil on linen     

East Wolffland

2005     44 X 68    oil on linen    


2007     40 X 50     oil on linen     

Postcard from Thira

 2006    34 X 48  oil on linen       

I then made the mistake of going into my old flatfiles to see what I could find.  I had entered the rabbit hole of memory where feathers, Wittgenstein and other issues were rampant. Thus we take a bit of a detour to the 80’s and 90’s………

The youngest brother

    1986    22 X 30    ink & color pencil on paper 

Leda & the Swan 

1986   18 X 24    oil & pencil on oil paper

Logic must look after itself

1995    22 X 30    ink & watercolor on paper

Objects contain the possibility of all situations

1995   22 X 30    acrylic, ink, watercolor & old letter


1994   22 X 30     ink, feathers, hand-tanned leather

Like a thief in the night

1994   11 X 12    oil, encaustic & feathers on wood

OK, now I’ve emerged from the black hole of past art and I can go back to birds: 

Sometimes birds will just show up as escapees from gravity in my mind, often just as themselves, but also as interlopers, carriers of messages or distillations of our essence.


Bird in Subway

2003    48 X 72      oil on linen


2006     36 X 48  oil on linen


2011     38 X 42    watercolor on paper


          2014      22 X 30    watercolor & acrylic on paper

4 Birds

2012      34 X 55    watercolor on paper


2012     22 X 34    oil on linen

Conference of the Birds

2013-2014    48 X 48    oil on linen

Non Euclidean

2017    30 X 40    oil on wood


2017    48 X 60    oil on wood

I can’t leave the world of feathers without this painting done in 1995.  It never kept itself in the past.  It was the result of a comment by someone I knew who worked as a paramedic, describing the ladling out of blood from a body’s cavity.  I then combined it with turkey wings that I’d had a taxidermist wire open.  Although I’ve had various responses to this picture I never think of it as a violent or sad image.  After finishing it I moved it into the living room and lived with it for a year.  It stood in for a fireplace, warming the space around it.

Ladle of Blood   Heart of Wings

1987      70 X 86     oil on linen

The wings in a bottle

Me & Ladle of Blood

 That’s it for now…I have to get back to the birds waiting to be finished.