Benjamin Franklin was disappointed with the selection of the bald eagle as the representative of the United States, because of its "bad moral character". He felt the turkey was "a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America".
For Native Americans the turkey is the "Give-Away" bird. Turkey represents the act of giving with a joyful heart to the benefit of oneself, one's people and the earth.
A rafter of wild turkeys is a common sight where we live, particularly in the spring. Not long after we moved here Judy was surprised to see what she thought was a large armchair in the middle of the hay field. It took her a moment to recognize the big tom strutting his stuff.
The idea for this sixth painting in the series of eight about birds came to me immediately. I pictured flowers, a symbol of giving, with petals that could also be interpreted as the fan of feathers in a turkey's tail. Also, I was copying a detail that I liked from my most recent painting, Ravenous, up in the right hand corner, a small red fan with a black, triangular center.
Here is Turkey's painting, Bouquets While Living, in process...
The background started as did all the others in this series, by applying many layers of paint onto the wood panel with a spatula. Flower/fan/tail shapes were cut out of white tissue and applied with matte medium.
Stems drawn in with charcoal.
Painted wax paper was used for the petal/feathers and Thai banana paper for triangle shapes at the centers.
The effect of the colored paper shapes was too strong so white paint was rolled over the fan shapes through a stencil.
The surface still wasn't interesting enough so the whole thing got painted over with a roller.
The roller loosened some of the applied pieces, a look I liked, so I made the most of it by rubbing off the loose parts with my hands to reveal some of what was underneath.
The texture of the surface was accentuated with oil pastel.
Another set of petals/feathers was applied using some of the prints on deli paper made in November. I stuck with blacks, grays and earth tones on these new shapes, but tiny bits of blue and red peek through here and there. The deli paper is translucent, so the previous layers remain part of the image.
This time the small black triangles were made with a stamp cut from a rubber pad. Stamping more than once with one ink application gave them variety.
I know I said the effect was too strong when the petal/feathers were colors and that the effect in the finished piece may be said to be as strong, but I'm happier with the earthy palette. I decided to not redraw the stems in charcoal. You can see a trace of the lines from before, which is okay, but I like the ambiguity of these shapes being maybe flowers, but maybe they are things flying?
The title of the panting comes from this funny little piece written by Louis Thayer (1878-1956):
I fancy when I go to rest someone will bring to light
Some kindly word or goodly act long buried out of sight;
But, if it's all the same to you, just give to me, instead,
The bouquets while I'm living and the knocking when I'm dead.
Bouquets While Living
24" X 18" X 2" wood panel
Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel, paper collage