Painting of Autumn and Boeing, 24x60 inches on canvas
I figured that two parrots arguing over a wine glass would be a piece of cake to paint. Silly me, because no commission has ever been easy for me. But that’s why I love this work … the projects I receive are always interesting and always a challenge.
Autumn and Boeing are two pet parrots, belonging to my client's wife and enjoying life on their farm in Thailand. The birds are beloved, beautiful, and fascinating. Autumn, the female, is on the left. Guess who is winning this argument!
Work in Progress
After a preliminary sketch, I started painting Boeing, an African Grey parrot, and became immediately dizzy, confused, and lost in feathers. I needed GPS. I had no idea how intricately birds are designed. They say that you don't know something until you draw or paint it and that's the truth.
I wanted to give movement to Boeing’s wings, showing his startled reaction, but not paint them quite so blurry as in the reference photo.
By the time I got to Autumn, a blue Hyacinth Macaw, painting got easier because her feathers were larger in size. I had researched both types of parrots online in order to see the detail of their feet and extend their tail feathers beyond what was visible in the reference photo.
It was fun painting the wine glass, bringing the grass background in and out of the white haze on the glass to give it dimension. I love painting reflections and I wanted to give the glass shape and make it look as though it were actually lying in the grass I had painted. I accentuated the highlights and shadows on Autumn and Boeing, so they would pop from the background.
John James Audubon was a great painter of birds. I have a renewed and profound respect for him. He was not exactly an environmentalist however, as evidenced by his portrait and what he is holding in his hand. I’m pretty sure Audubon did not put salt on the birds’ tails to slow them down, as myth would have it. Unfortunately for the birds, he took more extreme measures to see their little bitty details.
Many thanks to Ron, my wonderful client who always sends me great photos to reference. Here are some examples of other portraits I’ve painted for him, the first one across from the Trevi Fountain and the second at the Brown Derby in Los Angeles.
During this pandemic, I've been sitting here painting, nothing really different from what I've been doing for the past 25 years. But I have the deepest gratitude for my new and repeat clients. Even in these extremely troubling times, they continue to honor me with new commissions. Maybe now, more than ever, we are all realizing what matters most to us ... the people and pets we love.
Sending prayers for the whole world. Please be careful. Birds of a feather ... um ... probably shouldn’t ... unless you're wearing masks. 😷