Three of a Kind – Roseate Spoonbills

by | Mar 29, 2024

Egg tempera painting of Three Roseate Spoonbills standing in shallow water.

Three of a Kind, egg tempera painting

Three Roseate Spoonbills painted in egg tempera. Egg tempera dates back more than two thousand years. I grind the pigments and mix them with egg and water to make paint that will last for centuries.

My self-taught painting technique involves a long layering, building process. My paintings often take months, even years, to complete. I work on many at a time. A little on each one.

In our throwaway culture, few things are made well. I make my paintings as heirloom pieces to be passed down to generations.

In this painting I present these birds in a quiet, understated way. Anchored by their subtle reflections, they evoke a sense of stillness poised in the golden hue.

This painting began, as many of mine do, with more than I needed to say. It’s a reductive process. Adding a little, subtracting a lot.

An idea from nowhere begets a surge of energy. Excitement grows and I plunge in, loose and free with large shapes. Time passes. I adjust and refine, immersed in layers of paint woven with wordly thoughts. Questions arise.

What am I trying to say? What is the one thing that this painting is about? Always it is the same. How does one paint the ineffable with verisimilitude? The ring of truth.

This shape, this detail, is unnecessary. Yes? This is not a reality lesson in habitat or biology — only an illusion. Perhaps these elements hinder the path to transcendent beauty.

Paint what it “feels” like to be here, in gratitude, among these pink draped beings. Let paint, like music, celebrate songs of the soul.

I scrape and sand off days of work. Earth bound thoughts give way to higher realms. Make me an instrument of your grace and peace.

Help me create a space absent of wars, antagonism, and ugliness. To counter chaos with order and balance. Truth, beauty and goodness will prevail over darkness.

By our work and words, may we sow enduring grace and beauty in the world.

Amen.

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