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The Birds from Outer Space

Birds from Outer Space. Oil on canvas. 2013. 20x24

The original idea was to have a cosmic, stars-and-galaxies sort of background because I'd been watching way too much Doctor Who and that does things to you. But I started slapping colors on, and this is what happened instead. I liked it, so I decided to just go with it. I liked the idea of birds adventuring in space, or maybe birds from space! I wanted to make them a little other-worldly, a little bit weird, to suggest that maybe they're alien birds.
I don't think the whole space thing got through in the end, but it's an idea I'd definitely like to try again in a future painting! This happens a lot - I'll have an idea, but in the process of painting, that idea transforms into something else, and the painting ends up being quite different from what I originally had in mind.

I like the sense of companionship between the two birds. I enjoy painting pairs or small groups of animals, because I love to explore bonds between individuals. I to spotlight such bonds in a painting. I think they tend to come across well (given the comments I've gotten, other people seem to notice the implied bond), and they're very fun to paint. Painting a pair of birds can be more fun than painting a bird alone. I think it can also be more frustrating; when painting a group, I have to make sure there's balance between the individuals, and I have to make two living beings look right instead of just one - it's more work! But the end result is usually worth it.

My reference birds for this work were Green Jays! Really gorgeous birds. I changed them enough that I don't think anyone would recognize them as Green Jays, and I don't really think of them as Green Jays myself (they're alien jays!), but I'll always know that's where they came from.

 Update November 2014: "Did you notice that they don't have feet? That's because I didn't quite finish this one! I still think they look pretty good, though - even without feet! My family didn't notice the lack of feet until I pointed it out, anyway."  I couldn't stand that I never quite finished this painting, so I went back to it, updated the branch and gave the birds feet! You can see the old version in the pics below.
To see more pics of the new version, and hear more about the editing process, click here!


                  In the nest: