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The Seed Gatherers


The Seed Gatherers
28" x 18", oil on canvas, 2020

This painting was a commission by a woman who'd bought one of my bird paintings years ago and wanted a "companion piece" of sorts for her husband's birthday in early January. We discussed something bird-themed but not necessarily similar, since it wouldn't be hanging in the same room as the other.

She told me he was fascinated by a blue jay that comes by their house so I mentioned that I had been photographing and recording video of the blue jays that gather to feed on the sunflower seeds in our flower bed each fall and that I had some really good footage this year. She liked that idea and I started sifting through my images, finding a moment in a video when four blue jays were on the flowers at the same time. I took a screen grab and moved a couple of birds so they would fit a composition in this vertical orientation and canvas size (made to order!).

The treatment of the sunflowers was heavily inspired by a painting by Celia Sage (with whom I collaborated on our Home project in 2017) that I had looked at for many years which was of a garden teeming with plants. I love the way she paints plants. The way she painted that picture gave me a sense of looking at something wildly organic and thriving, chaotic-but-comprehensible, lush and verdant and decisively alive. I didn't look at it for reference specifically because I wanted to achieve a similar impression of undulating foliage...and I think I came fairly close.

Some close-up details of the jays:

I'm still putting together the time lapse video of me painting this picture.

Please stand by.


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