Jackdaws At Dusk

Jackdaws At Dusk

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Finished Jackdaw Painting

This is the final image for the Jackdaw painting. It's half an A1 sheet - chopped in half length wise. I've very pleased with the light, spcae, scale and the sense of movement. I'm going to add more branches to the trees next to the sun but right now because the paint there is so thick it still hasn't dried. The sun, when I did the sketch, was so bright that the branches near it were all hazy, so I want to get that across. I ended up working from my sketches for the landscape itself but for the birds I worked from photo's - it was impossible for me to sketch enough different poses for the birds to make it interesting - I love the birds that are dive bombing and the two in the front which are on the verge of changing direction by swooping underneath.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Beginning the Painting

I started one of the paintings today for the animal project. I'm very happy with the colours and feeling of space and freedom it gives. I did the very first layer of colour in the car last night in the car park that I initially sketched in but I only had a twenty minute window of time to do it in before my daughter came out of her swimming lesson. The weather conditions were very similar to the first occasion so that's why I wanted to go back there.
I had another problem at the time because the mount board that I'd stuck the canvas to was so big that I could barely work with it - I couldn't prop it on my lap as I thought initially so I ended up sitting to one side of it and trying to lean across it. I'll be continuing the work in the studio and will probably change to oils to add thickness on top of the acrylics.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Paintings from Bridgeman

I've spent some time looking through the Bridgeman Art Library for images of crows and there were plenty.

The one that first caught my eye was 'Tree of Crows' by Caspar David Friedrich. http://www.caspardavidfriedrich.org/The-Tree-of-Crows-c.-1822.html Here's a link to his website showing the image of the tree, It contains a lot of the elements that I want in my painting such as the bare trees, the swirling crows and the pale lemon yellow sky. I'm still planning on my painting being a bit more 'messy' even though I like the tight, detailed look of Friedrich's painting.
I also found an image by Ellen Golla that I liked, the outline of the branches and the crows were uneven and very textural, then I read she created them with paper mosaic. Her website http://www.zebracrossing.org/ goes into detail about her working methods and the image I found of 'Stormy Day, Greenwich Park' is in the link for 'paper mosaic collages' then click on 'imaginary places.'
Phillip Sutton, on the Bridgeman Website, created a series of paintings of crows though I've been able to find no website showing the images yet. He painted with very vivid colours, the Royal Academy website mentions that he was inspired by Matisse, and the crows in his paintings were quite often feature a white border around them, as if to highlight them.
Finally I selected the painting by Van Gogh of 'Wheatfield with crows' (his final painting) which also uses very similar vivid colours to Philip Sutton though with much sharper angles to his brush strokes. The format of this painting really took my interest because of the wide, panoramic view which I hope to use in my painting.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

starlings roosting on youtube


This link shows footage of Starlings flocking on Brighton Pier and they do the real wave shapes that i was writing about previously - the shapes here are what i was thinking of doing for the cube idea I had where each different side of the cube shows a different shape of the morphing ball, but I could do both versions of the painting; a flat one with the Jackdaws flocking and a cube one with the Starlings; mind you I've only got a vague idea about how to make the cube - it involves hard board and lots of glue!

Looking at the project description in detail last night i realised that it asks for two paintings, if we have the time, and that one is of a still animal and the other is a moving animal. The Jackdaws fulfil the moving aspect but I'll have to think more on the still animal - I have started sketching my pet cats so I might follow that lead.

you tube footage


This link to Youtube footage shows a flock of jackdaws flying in their swarming patterns. It shows the light conditions that they prefer - which is quite when it's almost completely dark. The photo's taken yesterday have a lighter skyline than this footage, so I'll see which ones work best - possibly variations on the sketches I did yesterday with different colours in the background.

I was a bit bothered that the quality of the recording (as it is with all youtube footage) was quite grainy - even when i freeze framed i couldn't see a clear outline of the birds - but then I'm not planning on the painting being crystal clear either, the birds will sort of merge with the paint, I'll probably use oils so it'll be quite thick. There are also got more photo's I took yesterday, so if clearer images are needed for references than I can use them.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Sent my student profile off today, mentioned the cube idea to her so I'll see what she says.

I went sketching and photographing the birds and the settings today down in Talbot Green (the place where all the Jackdaws congregate). Got some great images - like the one above which shows really good shapes for their wings, I tried sketching them flying too but I ended up getting stuck with the same wing shape, so it will be useful to have this reference to vary the shapes. One sketch I did of the setting is this long panoramic one (helped by the fact that one of my new sketch books is a big A3 one, bound at the thin side when held horizontally, so when it's opened out it's a double A3 in length). I used this to sketch a wide view of the trees and lampposts silhouetted against the setting sun. It could look quite dramatic worked up in oils on a big format.

The setting used to be old marsh land but is now covered by shops like Matalan, Asda and - as can be seen from the sketch above - McDonalds. I thought about editing this from the sketchbook and keeping the image as a pure sort of 'wildlife' setting, but I thought I actually liked it's inclusion, it serves as a counterpoint to the surroundings. The birds have probably been using that spot for a lot longer than what McDonalds have and I like the way that the 'golden arches' sign is diminished by it's surroundings.

I'm going to try and merge the images of the photo's of the birds flying with the sketch of the setting and the trees. I'll probably try it in acrylics on a largish piece of paper, I'd also like to try it with a painting knife and get thick texture on it as I have been reading a lot on Kyffin Williams recently and I love his use of the painting knife.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

first day

So I've done my shopping- stocked up on sketchbooks; small, medium and large, I'm just flicking through the course book trying to make sense of it and then I'm going to send my profile to my tutor.

I've got lots of ideas for the animal project but don't know if it will fit into the brief, the main part of it being painting onto a cube with a different view of the painting on each side of the cube. It's not necessarily going to be a huge cube - maybe just a mock up size of a full size version, but we'll see how it works out.

My idea for it came when I started thinking about swarm patterns in fishes and birds - notably starlings and jackdaws, and this time of year (early spring) the jackdaws have been getting really social and swarming around loads in their groups. There's an area called Talbot Green a few miles from where I live and the jackdaws swarm there for their big communal gatherings where each of the family groups join together and then end up roosting in the trees and big pylons. I love watching them, as do my children, and they make so much noise as they're swooping around that it's really exhilarating especially as they sometimes swoop down really low in the semi darkness (it's around the dawn and dusk times that they do it) - we sometimes drive down just to watch them if the conditions are really good - calm and dry. there have been evenings when the sun is setting just behind them with rich shades of indigo and orange, and the black, dramatic silhouettes of the birds is really striking.

It got me thinking about the freedom they have, the ability to travel in three dimensions - not just left or right like us in a crowd - but up or down, diagonal and side to side. My husbands science magazine 'focus' was saying that computers have been able to replicate the patterns that large schools of fishes and flocks of birds can create by giving the computer a few simple rules such as keeping a certain distance from the creatures around you and always following the one in front of you. I've wanted to do paintings of the swarm patterns they can create but the experience of flying in three dimensions is what made me think of the cube. I can imagine it being suspended by it's corner and allowed to spin in space as each one of the paintings comes into view giving the effect of the swarm changing and morphing.

I'll post some pictures and images, I imagine YouTube would have lots of footage of the birds flying, which would be really interesting to watch.