Q: How did the painting The Giver come about?
My oldest daughter Britany is the model for “The Giver”. The idea came about when she sent me a photo of her with her chickens/hens perched on her shoulders. She is an animal lover and so is very giving in that sense.
Each of her chickens have name names and personalities and she treats them as pets.
As the painting evolved, it also morphed into a dual meaning as related to her service as a surrogate mother. She has now given birth to 4 children for surrogate parents who could not conceive or carry a child of their own. So the hen flying by with the egg also symbolizes a human mother bringing her an incubated egg for her to carry. She is wearing a necklace with a golden bean, as my nickname for her is Bean.
Q: Did you use real chickens as models? If so, what breed(s)?
I chose breeds that had the aesthetic look I was after.
As best as I can tell they are a combination of: Plymouth Rock, New Hampshire, Cornish, but I am open to being corrected, as I'm not that a chicken expert :).
Artifact Notes: our puzzle design for this painting was done by farm-animal-enthusiast Tara Flannery and has whimsies of these chicken breeds:
- Serama Rooster and hen (Tall, chesty)
- Orpington on a nest
- Brahma chicken (feathery feet)
- Silkie (super floofy)
- Leghorn (long legs!)
- Polish (crazy hair)
Q: You have such unique subjects for your paintings, in general, how do you come up with the ideas for your paintings?
While I am always open to and looking for new painting ideas – and thus the field is tilled for planting – the ideas themselves come in the most random and unexpected ways.
It can be something I see, like a girl with a chicken on her shoulder, or read in a poem or novel.
Something I see out a car window, a song lyric.
Ideas come to me in stream of thought in the same way that our thoughts come and go and without us thinking about where they come from.
Q: People refer to your art as "magical realism", do you appreciate that label, and what does it mean to you?
It is really synonymous with Surrealism. By definition, surrealism is a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely, that the world of dream and fantasy are joined to the everyday rational world in an absolute reality, a “surreality.”
Magic Realism is art or narrative that is anchored in everyday reality, but with overtones of fantasy or wonder - the practice of inserting dream-like imagery into a realistic setting. So both definitions are similar and both apply to my art.
But I am less about the Freudian subconscious elements that are so often associated with the birth of true surrealist art, like Dali for example. So I prefer the term Magic Realist. Plus, I like having the word ‘magic’ associated with my name :).
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