30x40in, oil on canvas. Buy Now

The pelican above has been my arch nemesis for months. We’ve been fighting. My weapon of choice– the palette knife. His– wings that reached on and on forever. They nearly knocked me out.

At first I thought the issue was the background. I couldn’t find suitable colors. They were either too bold for the pelican or too flat, forcing him to star in the painting in a way he wasn’t capable of. He needed to be part of his space. Not sitting on top of it or competing with it.

But the real issue ended up being those blasted wings. Perhaps it was a subconscious desire for him to extend his metaphoric reach, but sometimes you can only get so far before nature tells you, “That looks weird. Metaphors be damned.”

When I shortened the wings, the whole thing came together. I’d been trying to fix other aspects of it for so long, it felt nothing short of miraculous when such a simple fix changed everything. All of a sudden I could work on the more abstract elements of the painting with ease. The colors worked, I loved the textures. Like a person who changes hairstyles every so often to cope with a long and intense mid-life crisis, this painting went from a purple background to a gold one, to a, well, this one. Turns it out it’s mostly neutral. You can see some of the former gold showing through. And there’s still a little light grey/purple. A touch of blue too.

Although I wish it had come easily from the start, it would be foolish to deny that some of this painting’s beauty is in the layers. The reworking. The covering certain parts up and then starting again (if that doesn’t sound like life, I’m not sure what does).  One of my very first pelican paintings was like this. I did it over an old painting that wasn’t working. The old painting gave the new life and character. And then I did another. 

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These are from 2012– right around the time I started liking pelicans as subjects. I made very few paintings then. I used acrylic paint. I was living in Lakeview and ocassionally painted in the “basement” of my house which was really more of a step-down living room I’d ripped stained carpets from and then left the concrete exposed underneath. I had plans to eventually refinish it. Concrete floors made for an ideal studio, but I hadn’t yet discovered how to use it effectively nor consistently. Ezra was a newborn, and when he finally went down for the naps he valiantly fought, I occasionally found myself in that little “studio” wondering what I should paint, blank canvases staring at me. The time pressure was intense. He could wake up at any moment, and if I didn’t get going there would nothing to be show for all my efforts.

I’ve moved back to oils in recent years. I’d say my pelicans are pretty different now, and I prefer them in flight rather than resting.

But these two mark a start for me. I had no idea at that time that just two short months later, I’d be moving out of that house with the concrete floors and into one with my parents, beginning a long divorce process, and figuring out the whole single mom thing. I had no idea I’d become a full-time artist in order to provide for myself and my son (wild idea!) and eventually move into my very own home– one with a similarly make-shift studio situation, but one that gets used far more often despite its limitations.

So I’m ready to see these old little birds go. They’ve been collecting too much dust in a box in my closet. I love that they represent the beginning of my painting career, that they were the very start of good things to come. Both are 12×12 inches, and I’ll send either or both of them to you for just the cost of shipping or, if you’re local and want to come pick them up, for nothing at all. Just type “sold” and which painting (or both) you’d like into the comments of this blog, then E-mail me your address (if you want it shipped) or just a note about when you can come pick it up (if you don’t want it shipped).

 
It’s funny how time can make friends out of enemies and struggles quite often till the soil, render it fertile ground from which beautiful things might grow.

 

 

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