Saturday, March 12, 2011

Art Secrets At The Air Show

Far Inland There Were Seagulls, 36 X 48, Oil on Collage, buy a print.
I was asked to participate in a theme show.  The idea was to translate a poem into a work of art.  What a neat challenge!  How could I refuse, right?   So I was assigned a poem called "Far Inland There Were Seagulls" (its around here somewhere). 

So there I was sitting in the car at the mall parking lot wondering what in the world this poem was even about to begin with, let alone where on earth was this future "work of art" going to come from.  Besides there ain't no seagulls far inland.  Come on.  I was getting all worked up.  What was I thinking?  Screw it.

Then poof.  There were seagulls all over the place.  Walking around on the parking lot, thinking, I suppose, how incredibly similar this was to the water.  They were doing all manner of loops and spirals and aerobatic tricks right in front of me.  Quite a mystical, magical moment.  Of course they were there all along, but my brain wasn't allowing them in.  Sat there for an hour enjoying the show (and planning my "work of art"). 

My attempts at collage had degenerated into me sticking torn  random shapes onto canvas--once I got the whole thing covered, I was going to start adding crazy random pictorial elements and just see what emerges--kind of like the old scribble approach.  After the parking lot episode all the sudden seagulls showed up and gilded contrails.  Out comes the paint.  Now I'm doing the same thing the seagulls were doing.  Playing, doing loopty loops, paintin, livin and lovin.  I began to realize just how far inland they had come after all. 

The show came and went.  Picked up my piece. 



RH Carpenter said...

Ah, just look what happened when you let the joy in?!! This one is lovely and joyful and fun and interesting and I can't believe it wasn't purchased at the show.

William Cook said...

Yes ma'am. And I need to staple that to my head. Art and joy need to go together. B)

L.W.Roth, said...

The joy of the seagulls movement is there recorded. I also like the color play--orange and blue/green, albeit aqua played against one another. I'm surprised no one at the show picked up on it. Two complementaries playing on a field of gray, which then has a red/orange cast due to the blue emphasis. The red-orange spot gives it away. Very nice. And I like the aerial point-of-view too. Screw 'em what do they know?

hw (hallie) farber said...

I would not have believed your story had I not seen this in a local parking lot last month (and I'm about 200 miles from the coast). It was unbelievable--cars were driving around the seagulls. You definitely captured the loops and spirals--beautiful.

Kathy said...

This work is fantastic!! Says it all. Reminds me of how Charles Burchfield's mark making expressed sound and motion so perfectly. This work does the same. I love it!

Susan Roux said...

Wonderful! I love what you did with this.

When I lived in Northern NH, the White Mountains, we had more seagulls than Maine at the ocean.

Sonya Johnson said...

What a great story to go with the painting! And I'm doubly impressed that you were able to turn a poem into a painting, something I could never do (not a fan of most poetry).

Seagulls are such funny creatures, but you managed to transform them into a memorable painting. Nice.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

These gulls were trained in synchronized formation flying, I think! Great story and a reminder to let go of ... well, what? But something happened to allow you to "see" what was there all along.

SamArtDog said...

Okay, this does it. You've been showing up and saying noticeably clever stuff lately on more and more of my favorite blogs. Enough to make me check out yours. Again. I'd already seen from your profile that we share some fairly eclectic interests (eclectic being what I say when I want to sound reasonably erudite while stringing thoughts together which fail to identify anything specific, a.k.a., blather).

You got me with the seagulls. Growing up in Maine taught me that they're little more than horse flies, for the most part garbage-eating nuisances which are willing to walk around in dumps. Like parking lots. Imagine my surprise years ago when I indentified a host of Franklin gulls circling like archangels in the stratosphere high above the peaks of the Rockies. Clearly not feasting on Mickey D's french fries or random road apples. Nay, angels worthy of the finest art, virtual Byzantine icons.

Thanks for doing them justice.

William Cook said...

Hi Linda--Thanks for pointing all that about the colors in the piece--never thought of it in that way. I do remember noticing how little color was necessary to accomplish the goal--any more and all the playfulness would vanish. Neat observation. Wm

Hi Hallie--They sure do put on a show don't they? Thanks for stopping by. Wm

Hi Kathy--Thanks so much! It's interesting how much music (and sound in general) plays such an important role in artmaking, and vice versa too. I suppose the creative disciplines must be quite intimately related on a very deep level. I'm looking into Charles Burchfield, thanks for the reference! Wm

Susan--Thanks so much. I love the White Mts. of NH. Spent many a happy vacation there as kids. White Lake State Park. Can't imagine seagulls that far in. Wm

Hi Sonya--I'm probably not much of a poetry person either, which explains why I was having such a hard time with it. The gulls seemed to come to my rescue, saying in effect, "we're not so bad, Bill, cheer up--look what we can do." The whole thing was very up-lifting. Wm

Hi Katherine--Exactly! It was like they were communicating to me personally. The aerobatics were exquisite. Let all the stress slough off. Just do like us!

Hi Sam--Welcome. I guess I'm having such a great time discovering all you wonderful creative, whitty people--dedicated, knowledgible artists--all out there--it's like a huge block party only spread out. I love you all--thanks for being there!

You are one luckey stiff to have grown up in Maine (we spent our summers there so my impression of Maine is summertime fun). I remember those horseflies, alas, and clearly you have a different exposure to the gulls--kind of how I feel like pigeons here in the big bananna. We call em the rats of the air. But even they have they're moments. Remember gulliness is next to dogliness too, you know (especially if they're up there with the archangles). The rockies? Wm

m.gaudreau said...

Hey Bill, Your sky is like lace-work and mandalas,(remember mandalas?). You might get a kick out of Jamie Wyeth's painting of gulls as the 7 deadly sins. Hilarious and virtuoso painting fingerprints,charcoal,oil,scraping.
Thanks for coming to my show. You were a big influence on my art, back in the day.

William Cook said...

Hey Mike--Thanks for droppin in. Mandalas! Sounds serious. Just for fun, I looked up Joan Kellogg. Wow. She is quite an historic figure in art therapy. At the time I thought she was some old lady that schlept over to Towson to help Roberta teach the course. Just kidding. She was a distinguished art therapist it was our pleasure to have been exposed to. I'll try to find that Wyeth piece. Infleuence! Remember your pen and ink house portraits back in the day? They inspired my whole illustration career. Show was magnificent. Best regards, Bill

Check out Mike's work (en plein air) at:

Jan Yates, SCA said...

I CAN'T BELIEVE I MISSED THIS ONE! it is beautiful on so many levels--AYE to all the comments

William Cook said...

Thanks Jan, Bill

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

It's fabulous, can't believe it wasn't sold.

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Greetings William,

Thank you for sharing your artwork and especially the story of its creation. It is always very interesting to me how work comes about and what the various influences are in its creation.

Warmest regards,