There is just something about a random rooster crowing at any old time of the day that reminds me of growing up in the Caribbean. Watching a mother hen crossing the road followed by a long string of chicks. I’ve photographed several “wild” chickens spontaneously – while out on a photoshoot or just running errands – just pecking away in a garden or in all sorts of unexpected places. It is such a common sight, the soundtrack to everyday life in certain parts of the world … completely alien in others.
This painting is based on a snapshot I took of a rooster in the courtyard of the Pink Plantation House Restaurant in St. Lucia, owned by some good friends of mine, and a favourite place to hang out with a camera. Honestly, I could probably live there for three months and paint something new & beautiful on the grounds each day!
I don’t think I’ve painted in oils for about fifteen years, and the experience has confirmed that acrylic paint is best suited to my personality and way of working. The worst thing about oils for me, is the best thing about it for oil painters, it takes forever to dry! Oil paint somehow gets EVERYWHERE … I’ve had to wipe it off my laptop, my camera, my headphones, my chair, not to mention my face, hair & hands, the paint on the easel & rug are standard and at least it’ll wash out of the clothes. Several times I’d rub the board by accident and smudge the painting, once it actually fell on the floor and I ended up repainting much of it, which is why I spent so long on it. Time to donate my oil paints I think.
Anyway this snapshot just entrigues me, a moment frozen in time, there’s a narrative here that I keep coming back to. As you’ll see in the photo below, I have painted it before in acrylics … 11″x14″ … but it was at a time when I was doing a series of more detailed, more realistic close-ups of flowers, and it didn’t make sense. I tried to push it further by painting the subject larger & looser, but stopped at the point you see here because I realized I was on the wrong track. If I had had the outlet of selling daily paintings online, I would have known that the initial painting was enough.
At the time, I hadn’t embraced the fact that along with my more serious “gallery” work, I could also follow my own creative sidetracks, even if I knew they were going to be dead ends (single paintings, slightly off my artistic path). I looked at it as a waste of resources, instead of seeing it as full-filling my own artistic needs, and I didn’t know how to live with it lying around as a reminder of my foolishness, so I destroyed it. Now I look back & I have a folder of “experiments” that only exist as digital images.
And I realize that following that kernel of curiosity about a subject, and living a life where I am open to – and actively seek – inspiration from my day, is more important to me as an artist than boxing my artistic self/production into a single grandiose theme.
Authenticity is often its own reward. But the image below is a painting I did in 2000 (under my maiden name, Gomez), of another rooster … I see I called it Lonely Rooster, but it probably should just have been Lone Rooster. It was from another – similar – snapshot, and I followed my gut, even when my Dad called from St. Lucia to say the package had arrived, and “is the painting of the grass finished?”. Despite his misgivings, he took it in to the gallery for me … two days later a visitor from New York bought it. I’m not sure it comes across in this photo due to the glare, but the green grass was seductive, and I think the painting says a little something about carving out a little bit of space for oneself. Space to breathe deep in the fresh air, lazy days punctuated by the crowing of a random rooster .