Phoenix, painted over the course of two summers, is my first large acrylic. The goal of this painting was to convey the vitality of the bird emerging from the water, a dramatic moment frozen forever in exquisite detail.
Rather than abstracting, I sought to test my abilities by rendering the kingfisher as realistically as possible, layering dimensions of surreality on the existing magic of the bird.
I started work on Phoenix (which at that time was under the working title of Heledir, or literally “kingfisher” in Tolkien’s Sindarin language) last summer — it was the first time anyone had trusted me with a canvas as big as this, and I spent hours thinking about what exactly I would paint. In the end, I settled for this: a kingfisher soaring out of water, the kingfisher being my father’s favourite bird, and this being intended as a present for his 50th birthday.
As it turned out, I was not finished in time for his 50th. But I did make his 51st!