Goshawk & Ruffed Grouse
(scroll down for description)
24” x 40 1/4”, acrylic, 1974
“The goshawk is the largest and fiercest of the accipiter hawks. These are characterized by short, rounded wings and a long tail. They specialize in chasing prey, particularly birds through thick forest. They are adept at twisting and dodging through the trees. In olden times, they were used by kings and the highest nobles for hunting in Asia as well as Europe. Ruffed grouse is the favourite prey where they live within the same range. They are plump in build so that the hawk can acquire a relatively large amount of meat with one kill.
“In the entire living world, the killing of one species must take place so that another species survives. This is just as true of man as it is of other predators. In nature, it is usually done quickly, cleanly and without anger. The faces of birds of prey usually look angry, but this is the way they are built. They always look that way. I like to capture the personality of particular species. Goshawks have a hatchet face, like a flat-sided wedge. To my mind, this makes him look like a cold killer, but he is no more so than the robin eating the worm or the owl eating the mouse.
“I assemble my paintings as a watchmaker assembles a watch in that the elements are put together so that they work. You cannot move them around or add or subtract any more than you could do that with a watch and expect it to still work. The curving dead branch of aspen leaves on the left, for example, echoes the form of the grouse and is needed to keep the limbs from running out of the pictures. The hawk's foot has killed the grouse and is grasping it, but you cannot see it. Instead, I have made the entire tree like a hawk's foot and placed the grouse at the centre of it.”