Monday, November 24, 2008

Painting Distractions

I sometimes think that a bird artist, maybe all nature artists, should have their studios in windowless closets or basements!  I'll tell you why.  My studio sits on a hillside and has windows on the west, north, and east sides.  Big windows.  And they look into the tree tops, at the bird feeders, and at the fish pond.  So what does that mean?  Well, there are birds out there almost all of the time and I find it almost impossible to ignore them.  So when I should be working on that latest watercolor painting I find myself checking out a flock of Pygmy Nuthatches moving through the Ponderosa Pines toward the suet feeder.  Or, look out to the west toward the mountains--a soaring Redtail Hawk.  Sometimes, just to be mean, these distracting birds actually land right on the deck railing just a few feet from my drawing table.  How disturbing!  Here's a few examples of recent distractions, all photographed through studio windows.

This is the view to the west toward the Bitterroot Mountains.  

The Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is in the valley beyond the trees and this side of the mountains.  I can see ducks on the ponds with my spotting scope.

This Northern Flicker (red-shafted) apparently wanted me to paint another Flicker picture with him as the star.
He seems to be trying to convince me by exhibiting unusual poses.  

"Here's my profile.  Is this pose better?"  Go away and leave me alone and maybe I'll think about starting another flicker painting.

"Hey, what about me?  You made it into "Birds in Art" competition  in 2005 with a painting of us Magpies.  Isn't it time for another?"

O.K. I really had to look at this one.  Townsend's Solitaires don't show up in the yard regularly.

See?  Distractions, distractions.  My days seem to be filled with "mugging" birds trying to get famous (they don't know that my paintings won't make them famous.)   Guess I'll have to paint at night.  I haven't heard any owls here at the house yet.


Ken Januski said...

Hey Sid,

That's a very nice image topping your blog now. I assume it's one of your own paintings? Those are some really lush colors and I think the white of the birches really helps them stand out.

I can see why you might get distracted. Those are some views. Art is the oddest thing in a way. You enjoy the beauty of nature and want to get it down on canvas or paper. And yet the only way to do that is to tear yourself away from nature, especially when it's right outside your door. But I tend not to worry too much about them. At least these are good distractions, not like a bad show on television. Eventually I assume they'll have a positive affect on your work. Art is made from many, disparate influences, even those beautiful distractions right outside your window.

Sid Frissell said...


Yeah, that painting is bright alright. Hope it doesn't scare people away! I'll eventually change it for something else. At least that painting is an example of one that actually sold!

By the way, the trees are aspen not birch. They do look a bit similar but birch are really whiter. See, my forestry background still comes to light.

Yes, the painting part requires that your isolate yourself a bit from nature. But, if you do lots of field sketching you can wallow among the birds and flowers awhile supposedly collecting "reference material!"

Max said...

Great views and birds of the Bitterroot, I have not been there in years and I miss it. I work at home, so I understand the problem of distractions, though my neighborhood is nothing like yours!
To answer your earlier question, I graduated from UM in 2000, which feels like ages ago.