Thursday, April 30, 2009
A Primal Energy
I decided to take a quasi-break from flowers (though not truly...I still painted them while I was painting this different piece) and get back to my animal/wildlife roots.
About a month ago I did a quadtych art card set entitled "African Wildlife." Another artist mentioned that before seeing the size of the piece (each of the four paintings was 5" x 7") he thought that it was larger, or at least wanted to be. I had that impression as well, so I developed my triptych Savannah around the image of the mother elephant and her calf hurrying back to her side. I used the colors of the art cards as a base for the abstract background to create a sense of the African savannah--it's energy, wildness, and yes, peacefulness. Various waterfowl (not necessarily a true to size ratio!) added the tranquility to the scene I needed, which helps to balance the energy of the elephant calf panel. Each primary figure in the end panels (the heron in flight in Panel 1 and the baby elephant in Panel 3) are moving towards the middle panel which helps to keep the viewer's eye in the image. All figures are drawn toward the central figure of the mother elephant, another symbol for Mother Earth.
The tree canopy created a particular challenge for me, as I was stuck here for some time trying to determine how to develop this area of the painting. It went through several changes until I settled on using mixed media. To do this, I cut sections of fine art paper with real bamboo leaf inclusions into large-ish palm leaves and glued them in place. The color was still too bright for the painting, so I applied a gentle orange wash to stain the leaves before adding cobalt teal for more depth and contrast. I then sealed the paper with a gloss gel medium.
I love the background of the first panel--its contrasts, textures, and translucency--all off-set by the crispness of the sillouettes of the water birds. I think I may very well explore this theme another time :o)