Now the turkey’s done

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Thanks to everyone who offered comments last time on what to do to finish the turkey. I followed your advice and toned down the white and pulled out some highlights. I think I will leave it as is now and call this one done. Time to start a few more paintings!

Is the turkey done?

My wife and I got some time to paint side by side for once, and I pushed this turkey a little further, darkening the neck, painting the odd bumps on the side, and modifying the shades feathers behind the neck. Is it done? This is the most detailed watercolor I’ve done, so it’s hard to say. If this were a landscape I’d leave it as is. Time to start something else and let this one sit for a while.

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Light on a turkey neck

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My dad suggested I watch Renoir, a beautifully lit and shot film about the painter at the end his his career and the start of the relationship between his son Jean (the filmmaker) and Andree, the new model. In the movie Renoir has a couple lines about the light on the flesh of the model, how that is everything. I was thinking about that idea as I worked on the turkey neck this morning, which is really fascinating in terms of light and shadow and warm and cool colors. I imagine this turkey is pretty proud of his neck. The key part is the warm glow under the chin. Still more to go on this, but I think I am on the right track. I need to let it dry so I don’t ruin in. There’s a lot of line work to do go get all the little wrinkles in the neck. I need to sort out how to convey that without going over the top in keeping with how it works on the head.

Thanks for reading.

Turkey, Marianne Moore, Roland Barthes

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To A Prize Bird
by Marianne Moore

You suit me well, for you can make me laugh,
nor are you blinded by the chaff
that every wind sends spinning from the rick.

You know to think, and what you think you speak
with much of Samson’s pride and bleak
finality, and none dare bid you stop.

Pride sits you well, so strut, colossal bird.
No Barnyard makes you look absurd;
your brazen claws are staunch against defeat.

Last night after a very nice Christmas day with my parents and my in-laws over, my daughters having fun with their dolls and new games (Don’t Break the Ice and Let’s Go Fishin’ are just as awesome now as when we were kids), I spent some time in the studio reading some new books (shown) and returning to work on the turkey. The above poem by Marianne Moore seemed fitting for this bird, his pride starting to come through with each brush stroke.

I read some analysis of Marianne Moore’s poems–it might have been Calvino’s essay “The Bestiary of Marianne Moore” that talked about the difficulty in understanding some of her work. In another essay I read recently–I think it was by Barthes, but now I can’t find it–there was a point about not as much attention being paid to the act of reading and to the reader as there is to the act of writing and the writer, that the reader is as important as the writer. With this in mind, creating is a form of reading, and juxtaposition might be a further way of interpreting work. Thank you Marianne Moore for adding something to this in-process turkey. I’ll be thinking about this painting a little differently now. And thanks Mom and Dad for the new books.

Here’s a close up of progress so far:

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Some more turkey

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I started laying in the first washes. I’ve decided to go with opaque white on the feathers, so I am really just giving myself some directional guides with these shadow colors on the chest. I want this turkey’s fancy coat and collar to pop out, so some impasto wi be pretty cool for that. I probably won’t return to this one tonight, so I am posting my progress now. With a lot of time off coming up, I will be working on a few paintings simultaneously for a while.

Thanks for reading.

Tough Turkey

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Earlier this fall I took this photo of a ridiculously proud turkey. I think it deserves a giant watercolor portrait. For now, I’ve started an 8×10 sketch to figure out my approach. Will I try to be delicate and transparent, or should I be more aggressive about it and layer on opaque white later? Not sure yet, but I am leaning towards the latter.

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