Reconciliation, Ravens
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24" x 60" acrylic on canvas

One of the wonderful sights in the kingdom of birds is the aerial acrobatics of ravens. These are often accompanied by surprising and complex vocalizations.

For years I have been trying different ways to paint these dramatic black birds. Recently I was looking through my art books and happened upon a large, soft-covered book describing the development of a single painting by Robert Motherwell.  Motherwell, along with Franz Kline and Clyfford Still, is one of my favourite abstract painters. The painting in question, which was installed in the National Gallery in Washington, DC, is called "Reconciliation Elegy".

Because I am a naturalist and have been looking for a flying raven idea for years, a light popped on in my brain. I used Motherwell's composition as a starting point and added my own photo reference and sketches to come up with the final piece. I included the word reconciliation in my title as a respectful tip of the hat to Robert Motherwell. Perhaps the ravens have had a nuptial spat and are now reconciling.