2102 Red Kite and Life in a Dead Tree
Artist Code: 2102. Red Kite and Life in a Dead Tree. Completed 30th December 2021. Water colour on Aquarelle Arches 100% hot pressed cotton rag 140lbs. Unframed size 12″ x 16″
This picture story begins with a chance reading in December 2007 in the Cambridge Evening News. An injured red kite was being cared for by the Raptor Foundation at St Ives. After making a donation, I took many photographs and made several pencil sketches of the bird. I referred to these 3 years later when I saw a red kite flying over our local Watt’s Wood (Artist Code 1104) and produced a painting of two birds. I then received two commissions in 2016 which also required red kites (Artist Codes 1112, 1608).
In late September 2021 I again used one of the pencil sketches from 2007 for an exhibition demonstration at the Forum in Norwich where I was exhibiting with the Natural World Art Society (this painting!). Many interesting people came to see the exhibition, and my favourite highlight was when a very bubbly Superman came sweeping in! The first day of painting went quite well and it was nice to have an audience watching my progress. But of course a lot of chat went on as well, so there was not so much painting done as talking about work techniques. Similarly on the second day; but the third and fourth days of the exhibition were quiet, so the bulk of the intricate tree trunk was completed. On the final day of the exhibition I managed to start painting the bird itself, but was feeling rather tired so decided to put the artwork away to finish at home.
I worked on the painting in my home studio on the 6th and 10th of October (a few days after the Forum exhibition) but felt that I mucked it up; lifted off as much paint on the bird as I could, and put it away for another day. On 26th December, after I had not picked up a paintbrush for a couple of months (too many other things going on) I decided that this might be an opportunity to complete a final painting for the year.
Completion eventually came into sight on 29th December – but then I felt it needed a background. So I mixed a lovely pale blue body colour using cobalt blue water colour mixed with titanium white designers’ gouache. Body colour is a thicker medium so that coverage is opaque and even. I use body colour a lot when colouring illuminations, and it suited my purposes here.