My term as Artist-In-Residence at the Los Angeles County Arboretum was during prime peafowl mating season. When I hung the show, the males had yet to grow in their signature tail feathers. They still had their striking blue neck and head feathers to easily distinguish themselves from the less flamboyant females–but the trains were yet to come.
By the time I began creating art onsite at the Arboretum, the transformation occurred; mating season had begun. And so had the unrelenting mating call, reminiscent of a small child in distress. Of course, the highlight of the ritual is the display of the colorful tail feathers, spread out like so many iridescent eyes. I began to notice hearing a rattling sound when a female was around. It seems the peacock is able to vibrate his train in such a way that the long hair-like feathers attached to the main quill flutter while the eyes stay pretty much in place. This must be very attractive and mesmerizing for the peahen. It was for me!
Quite fittingly for the surroundings, the subject of my first piece at the Arboretum was “Pumped-up Peacock,” a celebration of very showy fertility.
Here’s an interesting article about peacock “train rattling.”
Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of sharing my art-making process at The Gallery at the Arboretum Library, (Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden). I started at 11:00 in the morning by setting up my computer station. I am using a MacBook Pro with an external monitor. This enables me to mirror my screen and be able to talk face-to-face with people; they can see what I am doing without standing behind me.
The next step was to take photographs to use for base images. I found some lovely bird of paradise and some gorgeous cacti. But I honed in on a peacock strutting his stuff. Many peacocks live at the Arboretum in Arcadia, CA, and in fact, peacocks are the official “city bird.”
Once I decided on the image, I began creating layers of kaleidoscopic reflections. The program I use for this is ArtMatic Designer. It gives me some very powerful tools to change the shape of the mirrors. In a normal session, I will render out at least a dozen layers to select from. Click on the image of Pumped-Up Peacock for an enlarged version to see the layers and base images that were used to make the artwork.
For the remainder of the work I use Photoshop. The layers are cut apart, stacked and shaded until I decide the piece is done. This is the first time that I have created an entire artwork outside of my studio at home. I wasn’t sure I could do it considering the time constraints. I did it! I was able to finish the piece in five hours.
Next Artitist-In-Residence event:
April 16, from 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.
The gallery show continues through June 30, 2016.
Check the Arboretum website for hours.