Medium: Oil on Linen
Size: 28″ x 22″
Last summer and fall we were enjoying regular visits to our farm from a red fox my husband nicknamed “Frank”. I imagined a painting composition with a group of our resident crows swooping in to harass this fellow, raucously scolding and bombing him on the wing. Laid out and blocked in, the painting languished on the easel through the holidays. Come winter, as the painting unfolded, so did the sense that the spreading new virus was not going to pass us by or leave us unchanged or unscathed. I came to view the title as referring to all the conversations that would, by necessity, play out across the spectrum of American life. Governments, employers/employees, partners and family members would now have to confront with new urgency their own and other’s behavior. It had become vitally important to consider how matters might be improved/mitigated by meeting the new challenges with equitable, helpful, and compassionate behavior, or how they might be made worse by reactive, selfish, or negative ones. Isolated in nuclear groups, people needed to be meticulous in the ways they communicated and got along with each other. Honest conversations that may have been easily avoided before were now unavoidable.
An air of turmoil and darkness in the piece was accomplished by the compositional movement created in the gesture of the fox, the flight of the birds, the stormy sky, and the patterns in the wind-whipped grass. To balance this vigorous movement, a sense of harmony was achieved using curved patterns that were repeated throughout and by working with predominantly two paint colors, ultramarine blue deep and transparent oxide red. The clear blue open space in the sky at the intersection of the fox and crows was intended to represent a “clearing of the air” and the positive outcomes that can result from having these frank conversations.
The painting will be featured in the 2020 Birds in Art show at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI this coming September.