Birds, Birds, Birds!

Phoebe Focus
After two years of painting almost every day, taking workshops, talking and sharing with other artists in person and via Instagram, and lots of time playing around with different techniques, I feel that I'm beginning to develop my own style.

When I'm making art, I have one rule for myself:

Because if I'm not having fun, why am I doing this? I've spent too many years chained to obligations, pressure, and worry. I finally realized that I was being overly responsible, and it was making me miserable much of the time. Now, while I still have obligations and responsibilities, I take care to enjoy each day.

What does this have to do with developing my style?  Everything.  In the past, I was always trying to paint what I thought someone else would like, or be impressed by.  Trying to show how clever I was. Trying to make the painting look just like the object.  An exercise in frustration, as I was rarely satisfied with the end product, and I certainly didn't enjoy the process as much as I could have.

As my dad, the art teacher, has said many times, "It's not about the product; it's about the process."  Well, Dad, I finally get it.

Now I create art to please myself. If other people like it, great! If not, that's ok. I focus on enjoying the process, from the selecting the subject, to choosing shapes, colors and values, to deciding how to apply the paint.

I LOVE BIRDS. Always have. As kids, my sisters and I learned the names of all the backyard birds from our grandparents and parents.  I love to hear a new birdsong while on a hike, and try to spot the bird, and hopefully identify it.

I take lots of photos of birds. And for me, it doesn't matter much if the photo comes out perfect or unfocused. The photos are just for reference. I look for an interesting stance, a curious attitude, or a movement. And when I draw the bird, I try to play fast and loose with the lines, shapes and colors.

I've been inspired by lots of artists, lately especially by two: Carol Carter and Travis Black.

Carol Carter taught me an entirely different way of painting watercolors in a workshop in 2018. She uses saturated colors and simplified shapes to create exciting pictures.  She can take any subject and make it surprising and fun.

I found Travis Black's work on Instagram. He painted a series called Chirp. He has a way of breaking a bird shape into abstract shapes using wild colors and textures. Just gorgeous!

I played with their techniques, and have finally come up with something that's fun for me, and fun to look at.

Here are some of my birds.

Bean Pole Chickadee 11x15

Whattya Lookin' At? 15x11
Lunch! 15x11

Sparrow Perch 15x11

Big Leap 15x11