Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pelican, my favorite bird

61x46cm, oil on board

Finished my Pelican. It was hard to make up the pose..... the stuffed bird had a weird pose I couldn't use for the painting. I tried to make the pose as realistic as possible and payed attention to the bird's anatomy - there happened to be a pelican skeleton, where I could much better see how the wings work. Wings are kind of weird because they are arms and hands, although you don't see that because of the feathers. So a bird has a shoulder blade - kind of like us - and an elbow - which I think bends backwards in comparison to use - and a hand with fingers, or more like just fingers and no real hand, as in a palm. The "fingers" are the tips of the wings and birds use them much like we would point with a long stick attached to our finger. You can actually see this "pointing" action in pictures of eagles or hawks in flight. The tip feathers look like fingers, because the bird can point them like fingers, but really the feathers are just feathers and the pointing finger is the "leading edge" part of the wing.

Anyways something bad is happening in the background of my Pelican picture. Where he is standing things don't look so bad. There is a coin at the Pelican's feet, and in the context of the Pelican it is just another thing, like a rock or shell, but to us it has meaning ($$$$) and often leads to the bad things in the background.

Why is the Pelican my favorite bird? Back in California when I went surfing I would often see these guys flying about. They are amazingly graceful in the air. They like to skim the water really low maybe 10 inches above the surface. And they just glide, across the water, between the swell lines, hardly a wing flapped - beautiful, astonishing!

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