16. Childhood Influences.

 Stuffed birds in vitrine.

Stuffed birds in vitrine.

Anyone who is familiar with my work knows that birds are, and have been, constant compositional protagonists. One reason, I'm certain, has to do with a very early source of joyful fascination for me.

  The Pelican King , 2016, oil on canvas, 34 x 24 inches (private collection)

The Pelican King, 2016, oil on canvas, 34 x 24 inches (private collection)

Down the block from my elementary school was the town library. The bottom floor held the children's section. Immediately to one's right after entering was a glass vitrine containing a staged woodland scene populated by taxidermied birds (similar to the one pictured above). 

  After the Flood , 2016, oil on canvas, 36 x 28 inches

After the Flood, 2016, oil on canvas, 36 x 28 inches

I can't tell you how fascinated I was by this never-changing, yet endlessly intriguing, diorama. I would intently stare at it and get lost in this fabricated wonderland. When else could I get so close to exotic or familiar birds and inspect them at my leisure? My imagination ran wild!

  The Beach , 2015, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches (private collection)

The Beach, 2015, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches (private collection)

So, as a painter, my work is in many ways an extension of that early inspiration and fascination. I'm continuing to create static worlds (albeit in two dimensions) filled with exotic birds that are intended to draw the viewer in. An invitation to viewers to lose themselves in reverie.

It's impossible to say which childhood experiences will become part of an artist's vocabulary for self-expression.

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