When an art friend, Geoff Mccormack, made a visit to my studio last week, I pulled a few paintings out to get his opinion on certain pieces. When I pulled out Rogue Bonsai I said that maybe putting a painted window around the main rock and tree would make the painting pop. Then Geoff suggested I add a native bird to the scene.
So I ruminated: what is the intention of the piece? the tree that miraculously lives year after year on this obelisk of rock. What could help the intent be clearer? remove some of the outside distraction. What would add an element of surprise? a kingfisher sitting on a branch.
I felt inspired to make this more interesting, more dynamic and more unique. I took the two ideas Geoff and I had discussed and got to work.
How could I place a bird on this painting which was primarily in the distance? Why couldn't it be far in front of the painting and break up the frame. What If??
I took a piece of plastic and cut out a hole in the shape of a kingfisher, placed it on the painting and then, with a wet sponger, lifted the paint from the bird shape.
Next I taped my frame shape, forcing the focus on the tree and its attachment to the rock.
What If I lighten up the area around the intention and pull out the tree and rock?
An unexpected thing happened as I applied a white wash of gouache mixed with water. Not only did the wash lighten the framed out area, it also smeared the underlying watercolor. After a brief moment of concern, I decided that I liked the ghostlike effect.
The final step was painting in the branch with a kingfisher perched upon it. His colors allow him to blend in, yet he is clearly painted once you see him. Do you?
This is truly a What If painting. I took a decent painting and took the risk of making it more interesting, a bit mysterious, and something the viewer has probably not seen before. What do you think?