Painting Feathers on the Eagle

One month down, two to go. Will I make it? Apparently it is an ambitious task to paint over 400 student drawings onto a 7 foot eagle sculpture. I am starting to believe the people who have said that. I am also estimating that only half will make it onto the eagle. Sorry kids, I am not a superhero artist.

This is not the first time I have undertaken an art project that entails minute attention to detail. My art, and music, are often more about process than final product. Such as the performance piece I did at Emily Carr College of Art and Design where I sawed apart my Christmas tree and then counted its needles as I put them in jars. Each jar was labeled with the number of needles in it. I believe I counted about 10 000! (which was nowhere near the whole tree) With my music I love to improvise and prefer to play this way over memorizing a song and performing it the same each time. The journey, and the surprises along the way, are what excite me.

The journey of painting the eagle has taken me into a regular routine of going to James Whiteside Elementary 5 days a week. At home I choose a dozen or so student drawings and then when I’m in front of the sculpture I figure out where they might best be placed. Detailed designs go on the bigger feathers. Simple designs on smaller feathers. Each day I spend 4 to 5 hours working on 5 to 10 different paintings. At the end of this project all these little feather paintings will work together to create one big eagle painting.

Working at the elementary school is a nice change from a quiet studio, and I love having the students wave to me as they come into the gym for their PE classes, or stop by the stage on their lunch break to check on my progress. I’ve also had a few classes come to take a look and ask me questions. They love trying to find feathers they recognize as their friends, and hope to see their own. Their comments are encouraging, and fuel me to keep on painting.

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