Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mockingbird

Talking to the Mockingbird, acrylic on linen, 24x18

"Listen to the Mockingbird" is a folk song from 1855 and probably the origin of my grandmother's name; then mine, and now my granddaughter's middle name. My mother sang the song often when she worked in the kitchen but she never sang the part about the mockingbird singing over Hallie's grave (she may not have known the actual lyrics). Wherever I've lived, there's been a mockingbird who shows up and waits for raisins--he/she sits on the fence and waits if there's snow--two weeks ago I stood on our walkway and showed the mockingbird that the raisins would be on the porch railing. (I wasn't walking in deep snow.)

The fence shadow has always caught my attention so a painting was in order. I thought I'd keep it simple--from the background I eliminated three houses, a 500-year old tree, a dogwood, a crepe myrtle, the street, several cars; I moved the horizontal fence boards to the back side of the fence, and brought a huge bush from the backyard to the front. (I don't know what the bush is; I took a sprig to a nursery once and was told that it's banned or illegal in VA. Luckily, the police have not noticed it, although it's at least 15' wide and 15' tall and constantly sends out shoots. It's the home to brown thrashers and cardinals, and all the birds sit on it after their baths--they bounce up and down and swing side to side.) Below is a photo of the actual scene; the sun is behind the huge tree, and my dog Willie is having a great time.


Talking to the Mockingbird is not quite finished--simple is not necessarily easy. I was really tempted to paint a first-grade round yellow sun with rays, and I'm considering mitten instead of glove!

20 comments:

  1. wow...UBER COOL IMAGERY. I guess the starkness of it is a little unsettling...but in a good way. It took me a long while to "move things around" when I painted. It is difficult to not be extremely literal when one is interested in learning to paint representationally. I finally managed to take out trees like you have here. So liberating! You've done a genius job of editing here. The outstretched hand is outstanding. She feels tenderness for her Mockingbird.

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  2. Celeste, thanks. I love the word "Uber." It is a bit stark; maybe it's about the quietness of the snow--a lot had melted before I remembered to take the camera outside to catch the fence shadow. Luckily the mockingbird took a bath and sat on the fence outside the kitchen window; I had just brought the camera inside--he posed. I almost never paint exactly what I see--it's more fun to paint what I want you to see.

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  3. Such a divine painting! Well done.The colors, shadows, Snowy effect and the light is well painted...:)

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  4. Hi Hallie - I wrote a comment earlier, but I must have forgotten to post it. Anyway ...
    It's so interesting learning about your family name, and I love the connections. I can't wait to see the painting completed. You have such a strong sense of design and unique way of expressing concepts. There's always a little mystery to it, which is intriguing!

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  5. Hallie- I couldn't verbalize to you what I like about this painting- I just know that I like it very much. It is tender and captures a great moment in time. The fence is very intriguing. I think the story behind your name and the story of the bush bring this whole concept alive. It amazes me how you take EVERYTHING from your life and surroundings and infuse it into your art.
    Willie is just TOO SWEET!!! He makes me smile!! What a doll!!!

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  6. Megha, thank you. I really enjoy your pencil drawings.

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  7. Hi Kathy. I think I have to work on making the figure look less like a cutout. I thought any features on the person would detract--that might explain the mystery.

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  8. Thank you, Pam. My neighbors have probably grown tired of hearing me say, "Aren't those shadows neat?"--especially when the street lights come on. I at last found a reason to paint the fence and shadows. I think lighting turns everything into art.

    Willie is nuts.

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  9. Hallie, there is a haunting, etherial quality about this - and all your work for that matter - that draws me in and makes me sit in wonder. I get a sense of spirituality - of being drawn to the light. Wonderful!

    -Don

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  10. Dan, thanks for the generous comment. I believe Kathy's blog on "Creative Authenticity" made me really think about which artworks speak to me, and made me look at which of my paintings and sculptures I like. I seem to be attracted to "aloneness," (not loneliness) simplicity, and our connection to everything and to nothing (I'm just a tiny speck). I've ordered the book. Maybe my next painting will be a speck. (ha!)

    We're all drawn to the light. I once rescued a squirrel who was trapped in a friend's bedroom. I opened the window and said "Go towards the light." He did. By then, he had eaten all the window molding--my friend was too frightened to simply remove the screen and open the window.

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  11. Hey Hallie, I noticed you said something about your figure looking like a cut out. That's the part I dislike the most about acrylics. It's tuff to get a soft edge and I have tried everything on the market that you can add to your paint to extend the drying time. None works more than a few minutes. I'll check back to see how you do it. I like your new side bar!

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  12. Oh, forgot to say I LOVE your new header.

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  13. Hi Sue, I think the figure needs a lighter color where the sun would be touching--on the extended arm and hand, the shoulder and the edge of the head. I just didn't get around to finishing it.

    Golden open acrylics really extend the drying time but I forget they're wet and end up smearing the paint. The opens can be combined with the regular acrylics. I considered using them on the figure but I tend to take the easy route and stick with whatever's close by.

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  14. Hi Hallie,
    I like this painting. The outstretched hand makes it compelling; especially with its seeming connection to the mockingbird---one of my favorite birds--special since we don't see alot of them up here in Ohio.
    The cut out nature of the figure is interesting to me, it has a collage feel.

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  15. Thanks Indigomar. The mockingbirds are interesting to watch during the Spring when they're protecting the nests. No dog, cat or squirrel can safely walk down the street.

    The figure does have a collage feel. I had trouble determining how to place her so that the arm could be included. I finally decided I had to be looking at the scene from slightly above--I had to hover.

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  16. Wonderful painting! And re: your comment on my blog, who needs the directions! I'll figure it out on my own...eventually! LOL

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  17. You're right--who needs directions! Like you, I enjoy playing with Corel. The manual is so thick I decided not to read it--more fun when the unexpected happens.

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  18. Love the starkness and how it stretches the imagination. Thank you for sharing about the nightingale and your family. Lovely blog.

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  19. Hallie, I , too, wrote an earlier comment but I don't see it posted. This piece is very powerful. I like the solidity of the figure, which gives a haunting quality and makes such a strong connection with the mockingbird.

    You always provide such interesting information that I look forward to each of your posts.

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  20. Kittie, thank you. I read your blog entry about clabber; I had a pet calf named Pansy when I was young & I subscribe to Vanity Fair. I'll visit again and read about life in Louisiana.

    Mary, thank you. Maybe paintings are snapshots of our lives; if so, a camera might be easier and faster.

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