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.
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:
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.
And then there were the mythological hybrids, neither this nor that, but definitely individuals….
2001 52 X 64 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
Objects contain the possibility of all situations
1995 22 X 30 acrylic, ink, watercolor & old letter
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
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
That’s it for now…I have to get back to the birds waiting to be finished.