Friday, July 06, 2012

Cling-A-Cling CLING!

It never occurred to me that Cling-Cling, as with so many of the other oddball names assigned to the cottages and rooms of the Whistling Bird, was, well, a bird.

Turns out that the Cling-Cling (or Kling-Kling) is also known as the Jamaican Antillean Grackle. According to my sources,  these sable-colored, glossy birds "love handouts and scraps of food ... and are quite adept at stealing food so as not to share with other birds." They also have a fondness for the nuts of the Royal Palm tree (as shown in this detail from my painting.)

But I get ahead of myself.  Let's go back to the beginning.

My Cling-Cling began as a frumpish little tart, rather than the regal and imposing figure he eventually became. Here's how he started out:

Like I said, frumpish tart.

I didn't much like his attitude.

When I stretched this canvas back onto the stretchers here in Jamaica, I gave him the once-over and decided he needed a new pose. I tried to rub away the charcoal with my paint thinner so I could re-draw the bird. I didn't make much headway in erasing that first pose. It just wouldn't go away.

So I just took up a paintbrush and, using a couple of entirely different photo references I found online, I  began to block out a different form for my Cling-Cling. I used a deep prussian blue, and then blocked in the background in oranges and yellows, completely obliterating the aforementioned frumpish tart.

He's looking a bit raven-ish here, no? A bit spooky, a bit Edgar Allen Poe-ish. I found out much later that there is also a superstition about the Cling-Cling down here in Jamaica - oh nevermind, just go look it up yourself. 


Anyway - I was happy with that silhouette but needed to tamp down that bright orange. Too garish. And so, I layered on some paint, looking for a more golden yellow color.

Or maybe a more buttery yellow? I decided I was going to add that nut/seed in his beak, which would be a brilliant orange color, so I really wanted it to pop off the background. That idea made me really tone down the oranges in the background, even though I did like them as shown above. The yellows became lemony, with hints of green.

After adding the Royal Palm nut in his beak, I decided to softly add a bit of palm leaves into the background. He looks a bit less menacing now, too.

Except for those claws -- they look pretty vicious!

Look for Cling-Cling to be hanging in his eponymous cottage at Whistling Bird, Negril, Jamaica.

Monday, July 02, 2012

They call her Nietzsche

Perhaps she has a lot on her mind at 12 months of age.......

So here is how her portrait began, oils on the hand-cut cedar block:

She was wearing the floppy straw hat I bought for her. Her family said it made her "look like one tourist," and laughed. She was trying to pull it off with her left hand.

But I decided to leave that hand out in the final painting.

Nietzsche No. 1  $40
4"x4"x1.5" oil on hand-cut cedar wood block

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Mango Season

Mangoes are everywhere right now. I have had them handed to me left and right -- and you have to eat them IMMEDIATELY. Or, well, if you don't, you might as well chuck 'em.

So, of course, I decided to paint some before either eating them or chucking them. I used the prepped wood block and washed on some quick layers of paint.

Although I liked the loose nature of this, it's a bit all over the place. A bit much.

So I kept at it, trying to keep it still loose but a bit more held together.

I'm happy with it -- but think I'm going to try painting a few more. At least before anybody chucks them.

 Plate of Mangoes No. 1  SOLD
4"x4"x1.5" oil on hand-cut cedar wood block