Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Maneuvers" - Nighthawks in Acrylic

A year ago at this time I had an opportunity to experience a spectacular natural event. It was a warm summer evening and the sun was starting to settle on the western horizon. Clouds were starting to build and thunderstorms were predicted. The low angle of the sun was tinging those clouds with subtle shades of orange and pink. A swarm of flying insects was starting to rise and the scene was set.

At first there was just one or two, but soon others were joining in. What drew my attention was their call high over head - a nasal, kind of screechy "PEENT"! The nighthawks had arrived! Circling over the neighborhood was a large flock of migrating nighthawks. The insect banquet had brought them in and brought them close. I ran for my camera and for the next hour I tried to capture photos of their aerial ballet. Birds were wheeling, turning and careening through the sky from all directions. It was dizzying to watch and down right difficult to photograph. Nighthawks are fast and able to change directions dramatically. What I didn't know was just how maneuverable they were. It wasn't until I started to look at the images I had recorded that I realized they were capable of flying sideways and even rolling upside down in an effort to capture their tiny prey. Like a well choreographed dance they raced through the sky somehow managing to avoid trees, power lines and each other in their feeding frenzy.

I watched until the light faded and it got too dark to photograph them any more. My neck was stiff and my head swimming from trying to turn in circles fast enough to keep up with the wildly flying birds, but I had captured some interesting poses. My heart was pounding with excitement for what I had seen and I was immediately inspired to create a painting to record the feeling of that evening, the building thunderstorm, and the cartwheeling birds. I made a sketch that night and the title came quickly to my mind......

It's obviously taken me some time to create the final painting. I was in the midst of some commissions at the time and couldn't get right to it. Then the sketch got put aside and shuffled around and eventually life got busy and I forgot about it until a few weeks ago when it was just one of those summer evenings and I heard that familiar sound. It was time for "Maneuvers" to come to life again!

"Maneuvers" is painted in acrylic and measures 14" x 18". It will be for sale and inquiries can come to me at