Thursday, June 06, 2019

Crow Painting: A Bird Builds A Nest...

"A Bird Builds a Nest" by Andrew Thornton, 2019
We’ve been in the new space for about a month now. While we were moving and building things, we realized that our funds would run out. So I started a series of crow paintings to help pad our budget. (We still have a list of unfinished projects that still need attention.) I finished the first and second series, and it seemed like there were a lot of people interested in helping us out. It was lovely to see the pieces all get snapped up. But we know that not everyone had access to the paintings. So I had this idea to make a special painting specifically with the intention of making prints of it. This way more people could enjoy.

So in between all of my regular work, I set about making this painting. It was mostly painted in the wee hours of the morning, soaking up starlight through my open window. This is probably the biggest painting that I’ve worked on in years and it took considerably longer to paint than all the other paintings combined.

When we originally opened the store, a quote stuck in my head, “Petit a petit, l'oiseau fait son nid.” This translates to, “Little by little, the bird builds its nest.” And that’s just what we have done. Over the years, bead by bead, we’ve built up our business and our lives. With hope, faith, and head full of dreams, we’ve poured ourselves into making the shop a reality. (The ribbons tied to the tree are wishes.)

I knew that for the painting for the prints, I wanted to paint a nest. Plus, there was this really cool story in current events about ravens being hatched in the Tower of London for the first time in a long time. I was charmed by the story and it planted a seed in my brain.

The nest is embellished with tiny forget-me-nots. And I suppose that’s my desire not to be forgotten. I try to tell myself that I’m okay with being swallowed up by the currents of time and be forgotten by history, but there’s this secret wish that what we do matters and that it will live on, in some small way. That we won’t be forgotten when both William and I are gone. The flowers are in seed, promising that even when one flower dies and disappears, there is a hope that the legacy will live on.

Upon looking at this piece, you might read a rainbow and you wouldn’t be wrong. I remember as a child laying on my back and looking up at the sunset and seeing a rainbow there on the horizon. The fiery reds melted into blazing oranges and golds and faded into blues and deep purples. A rainbow is really just white light, but through refraction, the hidden spectrum is revealed and it is made up of such beautiful, saturated colors. To see the colors, you must look through a crystal or a glass of water or droplets of water in the air. Seen through a prism, all of the colors are revealed.

The spider web has two different meanings. Well, actually maybe three. The first calls back to my childhood. I was quite rambunctious and not always very pleasant. I remember seeing a spiderweb and for no reason at all, I took a stick and broke it up. It wasn’t harming anything. I just wanted to tear something up. I wanted to rip apart someone else’s home. When I returned the next day, to my surprise, the spider had rebuilt. It was bigger and better than before, using the wisps of its former web to make it stronger than before. And I knew then that what I had done was wrong, but despite my wrongdoing, the spider carried on. Life can be hard and we can stumble on obstacles setbacks, but that’s when we’re called to turn our breakdowns into breakthroughs. The other meaning is that despite it being seemingly fragile, made of fine, shimmering strands, it is surprisingly strong. Some say that it’s stronger than Kevlar. I guess that means that appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes what is dismissed at first is actual a deep well of strength and fortitude. The third meaning references an Ancient Greek myth about Archane, a mortal weaver who was so talented that she inspired jealousy amongst the gods and because of vanity and hubris was transformed into a spider. In my teen years, I was fascinated with myths and legends. They described the existential “why” of the Universe. I think that I was drawn to this myth, because it was a reminder that hard work and talent aren’t enough - we must strive also to be humble and have a good heart. We must be happy in our own endeavors, crafting our own happy endings, instead of getting caught up in competition or rivalry.

In hindsight, I probably should have done this painting differently! Lol! The underneath layer (which you can’t even really see) is made up of a collage mosaic of the leftover paper from my Magic Hour show. The thick watercolor paper is painted and layered with salt and sanded down. The uneven surface, while I find delightful in person, is somewhat problematic to photograph. Plus, I added so many layers of paint that the original colors are completely buried. Oh well! The other thing is that I used a lot of metallic and iridescent paints and pigments. Again, this is delightful in person and probably my favorite part, but for prints, the special effects die and can read flat. There are also some dark on dark areas that are so subtle in difference, that when photographed all the distinction sort of disappears. I started to wonder if I should make prints after all. Lol!

We did, in the end, decided to make prints!

We used our relatively new large-format, archival printer to create the limited edition prints. We printed the images of the painting on a thick, lustrous, metallic paper. I like that that helps represent some of the elements lost in translation. Prints are available in the Allegory Gallery online store and by CLICKING HERE. There's not many left, so if you desire to acquire one, don't delay.

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