Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 6/26/13

African Gray Parrot

African Gray Parrot

By Carrie Jacobson

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.

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2 Responses to “Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 6/26/13”

  1. Lynn Hoins Says:

    Love the parrot. He’s marvelous, so alive!

    Also liked what you said about getting to the core of things, paring down. You paint essence. I like that. :>)

  2. carrie Says:

    Thanks, Lynn! I really do try to see and paint the essence… It is so easy for me to get distracted by the details, the fringes, the non-essence – it is a goal and a relief to get to the center of things, in my painting and in my life.

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