Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My First Parrot - and Pooch-A-Palooza

 African Gray Parrot
Oil on canvas, 12x12, commission

So how DOES one paint a parrot? Well, after dancing around the question for a long time, and being scared about trying, I finally just dove in, deciding to paint a parrot the way I paint everything else.

And this brings up an interesting question: Is it harder to paint some things than others? An artist I respect greatly told me that it was just nonsense to think that way. If you can paint a dog, she said, you can paint anything.

I am not so sure. I can paint a dog, but I can't really paint, say, a Victorian mansion - at least not in any way that looks - to my eyes - like a Victorian mansion, with all that makes it Victorian and lovely.

The issue, at least to me, is one of detail and complexity, and my skill and interest in those aspects of painting. I'm just not interested in finding and taking on the most complicated thing I can paint. To a large degree, I'm interested in finding and taking on the most simple.

In my paintings, I am forever editing things out - windows, porches, chimneys, trees, bushes, telephone poles, collars, backgrounds, roads. I try to paint the simplest part of what is. The core of the thing, not the fancy edges.

Once, I tried to paint a falling-down mill building along a river in Rhode Island. I'd known the building when it was more or less whole, but by the time I painted it, the roof had fallen in, and parts of the building had disintegrated. My painting, to my eyes, was a failure. I painted what I saw - but what I had loved about the building, what had attracted me to it all those years ago, was its wholeness, its proud and simple stance at the very edge of the river. And that was no longer there.

So for me, I guess, at least now, I seek the iconic, the unchanging, the core. And in that regard, painting a parrot is much like painting a dog.

POOCH-A-PALOOZA was fun, but not too profitable. Still, I saw lots of dogs, met lots of dog people, and had lots of time to sit and paint. And sweat.

Here's a shot from the event:


BEFORE THE START of the show, I had the chance to spend time with my friends Cynthia Battista and Kevin Ireton, in New Milford, CT. Cynthia is a fantastic jeweler (click here to see some of her beautiful stuff), and Kevin is a wonderful writer and editor, and an amazing and careful carpenter.

I enlisted Kevin to revamp the van, make it smarter and more solid, and look what he did! All the long, difficult tent pieces go underneath a solid, strong floor, and everything else fits with astonishing ease, leaving me tons more space!

While we worked, one of their dogs, Zack, took a moment to study one of my paintings. Later, he told me how much he liked it, and that he was going to go home and measure his space to see if it would fit.

DURING THE SHOW, I stayed with another wonderful couple, Kathryn and Paul Yamartino, two of the nicest folks I've met on this journey. Kathryn is a talented painter with amazing marketing ideas for artists, and Paul is a great guy and really good cook, and they and their three happy dogs welcomed me for the weekend.

The Dog of the Day is Kaya, who spent a lot of time with me while I was there, including snuggling with me on the first night. She is one of the sweetest dogs ever!

Want your dog to be the Dog of the Day? Send a jpg to me at


Unknown said...

Love the parrot. I am also so jealous of your Art Van! Brilliant!

carrie jacobson said...

Thanks! The van really is great. I had sort of a meltdown after I bought it - the payments, for one, but mostly, I just felt it was a mistake. Couldn't put my finger on why. My sister pointed out that as long as I was using the Toyota minivan, I was just a person who did art shows on the weekends, using the family minivan. Buying this was a declaration that I Am An Artist - and that's what was stressing me. As soon as I realized how true this was, I began to love it.