This is my submission for the exhibition which will be held in St Louis, Missouri next month. An art book featuring images from the show will also be published. I'm very excited to have my work appear in a physical show, I only wish I could be there to see it. The original piece will be for sale.
I only received notice about this show about a month ahead of the deadline so its creation was more rushed than I would have liked, but it certainly does feel good to finish something. I've been focusing so much on my jewelry for the art/craft show I'm attending in September that I haven't really had much of an opportunity to focus on drawing. This image was originally intended to be something entirely different, but as usual if I try to force something in my work it usually backfires and ends up being so unappealing to me that I abandon it. In this case, it just transformed itself into something I had not planned, which I'm sure was for the better.
The human figure came first in the composition, and shortly after beginning to do some of the shading the idea of an arterial garden came to mind and the rest of the imagery flowed from there. The woman's strong features and thick, storm cloud hair were inspired by depictions and photos of Jane Morris, one of Rossetti's main muses. The stern, pensive gaze of the figure seemed to call for some assertive display of power and frustration, hence the captured bird. I decided on a Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) simply because I like them and have not seen one in quite some time despite the fact that they are said to be so common. I've also always enjoyed their somewhat paradoxical name. In retrospect, the color scheme of this bird may not have been the best choice in the context of the rest of the piece, but perhaps it was meant to be anyways. The day after I shipped this piece to the show, a male Red-winged Blackbird flew right across our windshield on the way to the store.
I love working with toned paper but this particular paper choice proved to be a bit of a challenge as it was so fibrous. I ended up sealing the main portion with a clear acrylic topcoat to keep it in check as well as to visually increase the contrast and deepen the darker tones in the image. The fuzzy texture of the paper as I worked on it tended to diffuse the light. It also had natural dark and light inclusions which most media I used would not cover, but for the most part I liked the character they added.
Size: 11" x 8.5"
Media: watercolor, colored pencils, ink on toned paper
Disclaimer: No birdies were harmed in the creation of this image.