Birds of prey

Years ago I got this lovely book at the Ann Arbor Public Library book sale.  It has 192 full color plates illustrated by Roger Tory Peterson.

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I’ve since used many of the bird illustrations in collages or as models for paintings or designing paper cuttings.  The latest project turned out especially great — somehow even though there’s terrible lighting in my apartment, I managed to get the color mixing exactly right to blend the printed images into the painted edges of this small wooden tray:

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For this little tray (which was a random Goodwill purchase years ago), I cut out part of the plate from the book, painted a background with some minimal shading, and then fixed the lovely vultures onto the tray’s surface using glue and paint.  I then hand-painted the missing or cropped parts of the image to extend them over the edges of the tray, improvising a bit and making the already dynamic imagery feel like its flowing out of the rectangular frame.

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I can’t recommend this type of painting enough if you’re feeling stuck in a rut or don’t know what you want to create. Let some other artist help you out of your image block by using their forms as your canvas. It will probably help you relax and just enjoy working with paint and color, along with helping you learn to see new aspects of an image you already appreciated.  Worth it, even if you don’t end up creating something wholly original.

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