Perhaps you remember Mr. Partridge, my sorry-looking bird I hastily painted last month for “Draw-a-Bird” day. Or, more likely, perhaps you’ve forgotten the woefully-misshapen fellow with his scraggly feathers and sad beak.
I’ve wished I could forget him, but he’s been sitting in the back room, mocking me each time I set foot through the door. “Oh, you thought you could paint!” he cries out to me. There’s no point trying to explain to him that he was never intended to be a work of art. He was just a quickly-painted sketch in honor of our monthly celebration.
For quite some time — actually, ever since I painted him — I’ve been planning to re-use the canvas upon which he reposed in all his glory. But maybe out of sympathy for the poor, bedraggled bird, I hadn’t gotten around to it.
It began when I decided to try painting a sunset scene. Light, of course, is of paramount importance in art, and I wanted to create a dark scene — dark but for my glowing sun going down against the distant horizon.
So I grabbed Mr. Partridge and prepared to wring his neck — figuratively speaking.
I covered the canvas first with alizarin crimson, then went over it with black. It got rid of Mr. Partridge, but it was too, too dark. Not to mention the fact that I now had too, too much paint on the canvas to do anything with.
Out came the paint rag, and lo and behold! What to my wondering eyes should appear? There was Mr. Partridge staring back at me. I sensed he was not amused.
I tried again with the crimson and a smidgeon of Van Dyke brown. It worked for the sky I wanted to create, but Mr. Partridge refused to budge. Throughout the morning, I worked, I wiped, I re-worked, and I re-wiped. No matter what I did, Mr. Partridge came shining through. The stupid bird refused to die!
Ultimately, I changed my scene a bit. Instead of a forest scene, I turned it into a rocky seascape. Phthalo blue will cover anything, you know. I did my best to work around the still visible contours of the partridge body, and finally — after many hours of frustration — came away with a scene that accomplished my purposes.
I created a sunset sky — which I actually do like. And I got rid of the bird. Good riddance, Mr. Partridge!
Oh, dear. I just realized that if you look closely, you can still see a vague shadowy form lurking beneath those waves. Mr. Partridge, it seems, is still with us. He simply refuses to die.