Building a body of work – Collaboration with Nancy J Young

My current body of work really started in October 2019 while I was set up at Roslindale Open Studios. I was at my booth one quiet Sunday morning when a woman introduced herself as Allison and pointed to the cover of the brochure which featured one of my paintings, Three Starlings.

She told me that the Three Starlings looked very much like an image taken by her late wife, Nancy Young, and asked me if I knew Nancy. I knew of Nancy because I had worked on the Roslindale Open Studios website as a volunteer for the past few years. I was tasked with creating artist’s pages and I ended up familiarizing myself with the 100 or so people who participate in Roslindale Open Studios every year.

I remember being struck by Nancy’s photos of birds. I looked at her images and website and got inspired by one particular image of three starlings on a wire against a cerulean sky. The light had the quality of a hot, late morning in the summer.

I particularly love to paint common birds, so I started to paint the starlings. I often get ideas from photos but try to transform the images so that they’re more than just reference.

Allison lost Nancy in early 2019 to cancer, and seeing my painting on the cover of the Open Studios brochure, she came to meet me and told me about where the photo had been taken on a hot summer day in off the High Head Road in Truro, MA. Nancy had begun photographing in earnest in her retirement; she and Allison frequently went out together, Allison being a birder, and locating birds with her binoculars for Nancy to photograph. Nancy particularly delighted in capturing the intimate details and movements of birds in many seasons and locations.

ROS 2019 Brochure

See Nancy’s photo of Juvenile Starlings on a Wire that started this collaboration.

Ever since that day Allison and I have been in touch. She proposed using more of Nancy’s photos for my paintings with the idea of presenting them together in a show.
I have been using this time to precisely do that. The COVID-19 crisis presented itself as an opportunity to focus with few distractions. I have managed to produce over 20 paintings in this short time while working in a makeshift studio in my basement. I learned to live with the dampness, bugs and occasional plaster which falls from the ceiling onto my palette and drying paintings.

It has been a challenge to bring my voice into Nancy’s images while maintaining the connection to the original photograph. I tend to do this by either changing the composition or choosing different color palettes. View the paintings below and click on each to learn more.

Comrorant – click on image to view details

Cormorant on rock-Click to view details

Dark-eyed Junco – click on image to view details

Dark Eyed Junco on pink ground - Click to view details

Sparrow in a crabapple tree – click on image to view details

Sparrow in a crabapple tree - Click to view details

House Finch – click on image to view details

House finch on feeder - Click to view details

Three Starlings – click on image to view details

Three Starlings - Click to view details

Contemplative Blue Jay – click on image to view details

Blue Jay - Click to view details

Northern Mockingbird – click on image to view details

Northern mockingbird - Click to view details

Visit Nancy’s website to see my inspiration.