Branching Out

I draw and paint horses.  My business cards say “equine artist”.  I consider myself an equine artist.  (Actually, I consider myself a representational/ American impressionist painter heavily inspired by the Fauvre movement, who focuses primarily on the equine form… but who’s counting?)  The point is, much of my work over the past 10 years has been about horses and the world of English discipline riding.   And much of my childhood scribblings were horses as well.
Well, horses and birds.  In fact, my parents still have my kindergarden fingerpaintings, in which I did a whole series of ducks in a pond.  (They’re actually a lot of fun!)  I remember an owl phase too.  But the point is, chances are, if I wasn’t drawing a horse, I was drawing a bird.
I did birds for my senior thesis in college.  Scratchboard Indian hornbills, in fact – birds I love to look at.  My first published artwork was an egret.  My first professional sale was a macaw.  Birds seemed a very natural Florida thing, with their bright tropical colors, lush environments, dappled shade, and giant tree branches wrapped in moss.  Plus, I could walk outside most days and be inspired by the flora and fauna of Florida’s Gulf Coast and her effortless beauty.  When I moved to Texas, bright tropicals didn’t really seem to fit the landscape so much, so I put the birds away and focused on other things.
Last week, for the first time in a long time, I did (read: finished) a bird piece.  It was for a charity event here in Dallas, an exceedingly worthy cause, and I was honored to be asked to participate.  The canvas was small – 10″ square, and I wanted to do something different – a throwback to some of my earlier bird work.  Plus, I’ve been on a gold leaf kick lately, and I knew I wanted to incorporate gold leaf into the piece.  After reviewing my reference photos, I pulled a handful of bird pics and started to visualize a painting with each of them.  One picture of Gouldian finches that I took at an aviary years ago jumped out at me, and the title of the piece practically fell in my lap.
Here is the result:

“As Gouldian as it Gets”  
Oil and gold leaf on canvas   
©Joanna Zeller Quentin 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

The floodgates have now opened.  I’ve got birds on the brain.  Toucans and cranes and parrots and pelicans, oh my.  I’m wrapping up a few big pieces in my studio today and then hoping to start on one of the new bird pieces this weekend.  They are fun and fancy free, and it feels really good to (pardon the pun) stretch my wings and move back into a genre I haven’t worked with for awhile.
PS- “As Gouldian as it Gets” was quickly purchased by a lovely woman who planned to hang it next to a large painting of macaws she had at home.  It’s always such a pleasure to be able to meet collectors, those wonderful people who allow me to keep doing what I love to do.  I hope that she enjoys the painting as much as I enjoyed making it.