Work in progress
"Out of Focus" began with a photo I took on Hawk Mountain, in east-central Pennsylvania. Here, researchers conduct daily counts of birds, especially raptors, funneling through mountains on their spring and fall migrations. Imagine a day when the group is focused on a distant Bald Eagle while, unnoticed, a small falcon passes behind them. Imagine further that the falcon is a rarity, a bird that has only been seen twice in North America: a Eurasian Kestrel. In developing this composition I wanted to illustrate the hazards of group think, group focus, with emphasis on a missed opportunity. Fortunately, the two records of Eurasian Kestrel sightings gave me a subject that, while unlikely, is not impossible. As I began to execute the painting, I realized the Kestrel's proximity to the viewer was not well conveyed, so I raised its position just enough for its tail to overlap the figure on the far left. This better informs the viewer that the bird is closer, accounting for its large size in comparison to the people. As in all my oil and acrylic paintings, I worked from top to bottom. This allows for painting the edges of near objects over distant ones, avoiding the need to paint around something, and it also allows me to rest my hand on the board without much risk of smudging paint already put down. This painting was of benefit to my development as an artist in that it gave me practice in depicting human bodies and the textures of clothing. I see so much terrific art being produced by fellow members of the Society of Animal Artists that I will never be complacent, will always be trying to get better. I hope that those who visit my web site will see some of that improvement I strive for over the years.