Why paint with tar?
Tar, or asphalt, is a black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons, a semi-solid form of petroleum. It is a pliable medium, which I can draw into (as in oak trees with their textured trunks), emboss onto (as in the foliage of the trees and backgrounds of some birds’ nests) and scrape away leaving behind a wonderful patina to the canvas. I love both the enamel-like shiny and matte finishes that a tarred canvas takes on depending on the temperature of the day and other variables! Adding sand to the area will give even more texture to the tar and dull the area.
Why paint bird nests?
They invoke in me the spring of the year when many birds return from their winter residences in colorful plumage and flit among the newly leafing trees. Males are singing to get the attention of a mate. Females are the main, and often only, architects and builders of the nests, which then become their “home” for weeks. It is amazing to me how some birds construct such a tightly woven nest with their bills using nesting materials of natural and found items (including our trash). It has been stated that no two nest are exactly alike.
If you are lucky enough to actually watch a bird constructing a nest, you would be amazed by the hundreds of trips it takes to gather all the sticks, grasses, plant fibers and dabs of mud, and to integrate these into a structure that fits her body perfectly and will accommodate her eggs and future brood until they fledge. Out into the world they go departing the home that has sheltered them from the elements and predators and leaving behind an abandoned nest in a tree, shrub, nest box or on the ground.
I hope you enjoy these paintings as much as I have had creating them!