When a crow dies, the entire community of crows will flutter together in the branches of a nearby tree and then become very still and silent for a long moment, and then they will all fly away at once. It's a ceremony not unlike our own funeral traditions.
To imagine this idea as an image, I worked on three separate layers, then merged them to create this digital piece I named Crow Funeral. I used to be very secretive about my painting technique when I worked in the ancient medium of egg tempera. Now, I don't care to have any secrets anymore. This post discusses how I made this latest work.
The crows were rendered in pencil and Higgins' Ink. This represented traditional work and the powerful influence of my first painting hero, Andrew Wyeth.
The koi (carp) were rendered from 3D digital sculptures. This represented the abrupt change of direction I took in my image-making approach when I committed to studying under other masters for the first time, learning 3D digital sculpture and the most modern technological tools available.
The surface of the water is nothing more than a simple photo-bashing, digital painting technique where I took a hi-resolution image of stars spangling the night sky and combined it with a watercolor wash and, finally, a detail photo of a single flower with several loose pedals. This quick, digital darkroom approach represented the farthest extreme from the radically traditional drawing and painting skills I had spent so many years developing.
When I look at this image, it makes me wonder if, after all is said and done, it's not about the skill and time or the effort and method that goes into making the work, maybe it's just the final picture that matters in the end.
Maybe art should not be considered beyond the surface image, the stains on a sheet of paper, the light from a computer screen, or the film-thin surface of water. I wondered, what if it's just no deeper than what you see reflected there? Then I went on to do other things because life goes on regardless of your feelings about that which you cannot change.
Yet there should be room for some brief ceremony. Even crows know this.