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" RULER OF THE SKIES "
For a long, long time I had wanted to paint a magnificent bald eagle but for various reasons I never seemed to find the right moment or mood to start it. I have to say that painting the feathers on this piece was a whole different experience from painting fur. With fur, the artist has a certain freedom to paint hairs longer or shorter, lighter or darker and so on, with thousands of relaxed brush strokes. During this process however, I came to realize that each feather had to be placed exactly in the right position in order to convey the true picture of the bird and each feather's texture had to be exact. There was little freedom and I was completely engulfed by the enormity of the task before me. I came to realize that this wonderful creature is even more spectacular than I had thought and contrary to my usual method of leaving the eyes until the very end, at which time they bring the creature to life, I could not wait for months to pass before painting the eye; I HAD to do it first. And so that's where I started. THE EYE...that beautiful, piercing, black and yellow telephoto sphere that can see a hare in the grass miles away. And then the beak...so powerful...so perfect...so beautiful. And so the painting grew.
I photographed the huge magnificent trees with their lush green moss while hiking in Minnekhada Park, here in British Columbia. I wanted to create the feeling of being way up high in the tree and the sense that I was perched right beside the eagle on the same branch. It is quite sad and frustrating that most of us only get to see these majestic birds of prey soaring and circling at high altitudes and then if we are lucky we might just make out the white of the head and tail or if it's a young bird, no white at all. I therefore hope that this labour of love will bring this awesome bird as close as many of you will ever see one and you can take as much time as you want to enjoy all its details and beauty without having it fly away at any moment. Of course a photograph can achieve this too in just an instance.....a click of the shutter...but my eagle and its feathers have been fondled and caressed over many months in order to recreate the beauty that you see here. It holds all of the emotions that I have enjoyed and suffered during this long, exhausting process.
While painting this bird I had lots of time to wonder what wonderful scenes these birds must encounter during their flights through the mountains, the forests, over streams and lakes, through heavy mists, snow, rain. If only they could in some way share their experiences with us. If only.
RULER OF THE SKIES - Denis Mayer
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Bragg Creek, Alberta
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