Somewhat depressingly, it’s been more than four years since I last did a painting – a symptom of the pressures on my time, no doubt. Anyway, I treated myself to a self-indulgent chunk of time to do this painting. For quite a while now I’ve had an idea in my mind for a series of pictures based on birds of the crow family and so now I’ve made a start. I find the crow family fascinating, not least because they are deemed to be highly intelligent, especially carrion crows and ravens. I did this image of a raven with the aim of trying to convey something of its intelligence – hence the painting’s title of ‘Intelligent Flight’. The slightly cocked head and the direct stare combine to give a sense that this bird is definitely checking out the viewer. The face – especially the beak area, is tightly rendered so as to draw the eye directly to it. The small highlight at the beak tip sings out against a near-black background and does just enough to catch the eye. Compositionaly, the placement of face roughly conforms to the rule of thirds which helps to reinforce it as the focus of attention.
As well as a producing a ‘realistic’ portrait of the raven, I also wanted to allude to its characteristic flight, which, on a blustery day, has something of the nature of a windblown umbrella. At least, in my mind it does.