Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Raven

Oil painting with palette knife of a raven, trying to capture the spirit of the bird
Another palette knife experiment. I only used a brush for his eye.
I have tried to paint birds before, specifically, black birds, and really struggled because I ended up bogged down in feathery detail. It is a conundrum for me because I want to be a realistic painter. But I do not want to be a photocopying machine. Hyper-realism is very clever but it is not for me: I sort of can't be bothered. I've got a good camera - why not use that? Trouble is, if you are not going to go down the hyper-realism route, then where are you going to go?
I spotted this quote one day from Constantin Brancusi, 1876-1957, a Romanian sculptor who worked in France. He said:
When you see a fish you don't think of its scales, do you? You think of its speed, its floating, flashing body seen through the water... If I made fins and eyes and scales, I would arrest its movement, give a pattern or shape of reality. I want just the flash of its spirit.
So here is my attempt to capture the spirit of a raven, even if not every strand of every feather. The beauty of the palette knife is that it makes hyper-realism - or the constant fiddling for every detail - impossible. For me, this is a good thing.