Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
The real question is, what comes first, the idea or the aesthetic impulse? This is my contribution to Microvisions 5
, the brainchild of Irene Gallo and Dan Dos Santos to raise money for the Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Awards. Each year Irene and Dan select artists to draw upon illustrators to donate a 5 X 7 inch painting or drawing to be auctioned off. Over the past four years these pieces have raised over $20,000.
Knowing this was coming up, I was thinking of painting a small box with a bird in it. Perhaps I'll do that one next. I did feel that the image needed some sort of fantastic or Sci Fi angle so I kept thinking about it. Something that I talk to my students about all the time is how to come up with ideas. Several students read over a newspaper trying out concepts. Several draw doodles and hope that the pen trips into an idea. I think both of those methods could produce results, but I tend to suggest students work and sketch from a place of aesthetics. What do we enjoy drawing? Where is the hook? How can this idea show off our skills? If one works with these elements as starting points, then there are a million variations one can come up with.
For this painting, there were images in my head I've seen and paintings I love and I tried to imagine a new piece to add to that group. I love the simple clean still life paintings by Raphaelle Peale. Thinking of doing my own still life, I thought a small bird would be fun to paint, and the hook would be the fine feather/fur and dramatic lighting. I drew some eggs but did not want to make the painting a corny, just-hatched thing. However, I love the symmetry of eggs, so I thought each, side by side could be interesting. What would the relationship be? I like painting intricate things too and a small, steampunk machine IN the egg that projected the bird next to it was the perfect solution. Next would be exactly HOW to make the chick look projected. The trick could be done digitally with a filter, but traditional painting was the challenge. I ended up drawing the bird one way then adding horizontal lines on in with gouache. In the paint I repeated this method over a warm yellow scumble and I think it worked. This piece will be displayed at the Society of Illustrators prior to an online auction. I will update this post when the auction goes live.
Here is a link to Irene Gallo's excellent blog with some of the current pieces as they come in and paintings from previous years:
The artists donating work this year are:
Scott Altmann, Scott Bakal, Rick Berry, Bill Carman, Jon Foster, Donato Giancola, Michael Kaluta, Tim O’Brien, Omar Rayyan,
Jordu Schell, Allen Williams, Boris Vallejo