Project: Butcher Birds

A Collaboration…commissioned surreal painting.

It was once again, as was the case in similar collaborations in the past, a very rewarding and fulfilling experience for both parties involved. The client had the opportunity to both plant the initial seed of the concept and be an integral component in the rest of the conceptualization process. Beside the sheer joy of the experience, the client eventually obtains the beautiful final result and the artist gains resources plus the often overlooked collateral profit of and new skill and experience acquired during the whole process. A great transaction!

A close up showing detail of the painting Butcher Birds
The shrike steals the show. Detail.

The concept started with the catalyst of a single small photo taken on a battle field close the little Russian village of Ponyiri in the Kursk Region and a vague idea of what could be developed around it. Over a period of many months of sporadic dialogue the vision expanded. After some drafts on paper I took the concept to the computer and digitally created a composite image of all the photographic elements. The sky was painted in using a Wacom pen and custom made brushes in GIMP and the field was built with a combination of cloned bits from other photographs and further digital painting.

The concept evolved through a few stages. Via Skype Share Screen and e-mails the client could visualize and follow the progress and provide feedback and constructive input and finally the day came that the draft was signed off and it was the right moment to commit the vision to canvas forever!

This is where part II of the fun started. I love all the aspects of the creative process but, beside the early part of the conceptualization and the final phase of completing the painting, and the long middle phase of endless hours filling the huge canvas with detailed strokes, there is no greater rush than to lay the first strokes on that blank canvas.

The canvas is 125cm x 100cm, not massive, but pretty large for a highly detailed surreal piece. Given the overall warmer tone of the painting, I’ve decide this time to veer from my usual methodology in taming the blank canvas. First I covered the whole canvas with a rich orange and mapped the prominent objects and marks in near solid black.

The first phase happens rapidly. Big brushes and the sheer joy of finally working with pigment, oil and turps, swiftly makes history.

From here onwards, the process become slower. The brushes get smaller, the tones of color more specific, the strokes laid with more deliberate precision. Many many hours later the overall definition of the canvas approaches near-satisfactory levels.

During the whole process, naturally, the client is kept up to date. A big component in a collaboration of this caliber, at least from the client’s perspective, is sharing in and witnessing the whole process, including the explicit nakedness of half a painting. It can be quite daunting for anyone but the artist to behold a painting in progress, but this is also where a lot of the magic is locked up in.

Finally! The day comes when there are no more strokes to lay, no more areas of the canvas to tweak. The moment comes when the artist must confront the fact that there is no more to be done and it is time to consign this project to history.

Final. Done.

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Please have a look at other similar collaborations:

Posted in Commissioned Works, Paintings.