About the Art

“Birds have inspired my work for the past 20 years. I focus on those here in Northern California that I can see, know and study up close. I feel a connection to these animals through painting them, and I try to reveal each one’s essence in my work. Because of the detailed nature of my work, I like to paint from my own photographs. I usually take dozens of photos, and then create my composition by selecting the best wing from one, the best shot of a head from another, and perhaps water or a tree branch from a completely different scene.

Getting the composition right is essential, so I spend a lot of time fine-tuning my initial drawing before I begin to paint. Then, with acrylics and small brushes, I loosely work in all areas of the painting. Only after all elements of the painting are roughed in do I turn to my very fine brushes, going over each area again and again, cross-hatching in darker shades and developing subtle color gradations. This builds up many layers of color, each slightly transparent to the one below it. I’ll turn the painting completely around and upside down over the course of a day as I refine color over the whole surface. I keep working this way until I get the right mix of light balanced with depth of color, and I continue this process until the whole thing seems to say, ‘Done.’ “

—Barbara Banthien