Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Still Death


My girlfriend found a dieing bird in our front yard a few weeks ago. When I got to it, it was gone by seconds still warm and limp, probably hit a window to hard. However it didn't get warmer to my touch, It was cooling so i knew it was dead, not stunned. Sharon asked me to bury it, but I took it upstairs and examined it. I don't think I ever noticed how subtle the beauty beautiful the color was on a sparrow before. I considered pinning it up to paint it's wing span , but somehow that didn't feel right, so I dropped it in a jar. I decide to paint it and spend three hours intensely working on it. Not a 100% sure why I don't really like the result.
More interesting was the extremely vivid dream I had that night. I was rolling down a white highway to infinity with a black void on either side of the road. When I say rolling, I mean on roller-skates, but I felt more akin to flying. Suddenly rolling right next to me was a little girl about 4 years old with a awkward sort of prettiness and warm brown hair. She smiled and we rolled along silently for awhile, then the road narrowed and before I could react she was forced off the road into the void. She didn't scream or anything, but somehow inside I knew she was done for. Coming down to her hundreds of feet down from the road. I found her broken, but still alive. She asked me to help her. When I put my hand under her head I felt the blood and broken skull. She asked me," Am I dieing?" I calmly told her yes she was. She asked," am I beautiful?" I sad yes. Then she smiled and died. I woke with a great since of peace tinged with sadness. When I relate the story to Sharon I get very emotional.



What's interesting is when I held the dead bird and painted it I never felt any sadness or creepiness. I just marveled at it's beauty. However, I can't relate the story without feeling sadness. At first glance the dream is a metaphor for the birds sprit going to heaven. I'm not religious or much a a crier so I'm puzzled.

16 Comments:

Blogger Stef said...

Well, I get emotional looking at your paintings William, and this one is an another superb one, there's so much feelings in your art.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Brothergrimm said...

The title seems oddly appropriate. Religion isn't really the basis for emotions surrounding death, though they can act as a catalyst positively or negatively.
The logic behind our thoughts is binary, with both a + and a - side to them. When confronted with a major change in your environment, your body and mind are forced to cope with it in some way, like sadness or grief. To counteract it, you may utilize something like artistic skill to bring some kind of honor to the image, something to burn a positive image into your memory instead of the simple image of a deceased bird. The dream may have been an acknowledgment of that process.
The bird is an innocent creature, and becomes a little girl, something you can communicate with on a basic level. You continue on the path of living, she accidentally strays.
Her asking if she's dying is your mind asking you to acknowledge death, like admitting an ex-girlfriend is gone for good to come to terms with it.
Her asking if she's beautiful is your mind trying to put itself at ease by trying to look at death as something that is not ugly, but natural, like an "awkward sort of prettiness".
Does that make any sense? I kind of just went off on a tangent there. I didn't really know how else to respond to your post, so it was just a thought.
For the record, this is my favorite work thus far that you've done. It's alright if you don't like it that much. Sometimes a work of art is an acquired taste, even to the artist that created it.

6:54 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

Thanks Stef and BG,

Friend Dan told me the dream represented the death of my old career ( comic books) and the re- birth of my new one as a painter. The bird being the catalyst for my unconscious feelings. Might have some merit. I've recently really lost any interest for comic books and made many strides on the painting, the biggest being I'm really sure I want to do it till the end. BG made a damn fine analysis though.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

These paintings are beautiful!! Love the style, feels like impressionist with post modern touch.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Uncle Phil said...

I really dig this painting Bill. I think it's interesting how you didn't feal comfortable painting the bird, so you put it in a jar; creating a clear barrier between it and you. I wonder if you hadn't put it behind glass what different types of emotions would have come out of you and into the painting.

Thanks for telling us about your dream as well.

10:44 AM  
Blogger fjasdfljasld said...

Truly an emotional moment and a very emotional dream. I'm glad you were able to capture it with your paint and canvas. Thank you for sharing. I wonder if your future works will be impacted by events like this.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Brothergrimm said...

Hey I tried, and that's all that matters, right? But in the end I got the Occam's treatment!

7:02 AM  
Blogger Jeff Hayes said...

It's a touching story and a sensitive painting... good job William

7:18 AM  
Blogger william wray said...

thank you Alina. Post Modern is good right?

9:02 AM  
Blogger william wray said...

Hey Phil, I thought it was just for hygiene and that the glass would make for an interesting element in a still life, but you right, we can't discount unconscious reasons. Love you drawing by the way very solid for your age. Do you storyboard?

9:22 AM  
Blogger miles said...

NICE!

i believe that the dream expresses regret...possible it's wishful thinking on my part but i can't help but think about the kinds of things that would pop up in your strips/paintings had you procreated...understand - i know how you feel about it and respect it wholly

more to the point...great painting W - heavy - beautiful - robust in subject and in execution

5:55 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

thaks you F1.

I don't think i can see the impact yet but it may be there simmering.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Ward Jenkins said...

Wow. What a beautiful story to accompany a beautiful painting, William. I'm familiar with your comic work and now am enjoying your new venture with your paintings and I have to say that I'm sure that the dream and the bird may have some strange connection there with your career, like that earlier comment had suggested. Very fascinating. Great post.

8:09 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

Hey Ward, I think that may be true. Seems as if some others apply there own wishes and beliefs to the dream and the career thing rings true because my big regret in life is not not having kids or finding God, it’s leaving New York. Don’t get me wrong, I love Southern California, but I really wanted to give the fine art thing there are try and when I came back out here to do Ren and Stimpy and the mental cost of that brief high, then debacle and aftermath don’t seem worth the cost. I often wish I had stayed with the NY art path. I haven’t lately, but I used to dream I was still In NY almost once a week.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Ren and Stimpy? You did those guys? My kids used to watch that show, with some trepidation on my part; but hey, it's America, right?

Really interesting take on the "sparrow." The painting is wonderful; I love it. And I found what you wrote regarding your reaction to it warm and sensitive.

I would like to defend the "sparrow." If the colors are true, the ones in your painting, especially those about the head, I'm reasonably convinced you have painted a dead barn swallow. A much more prestigious bird in the annals of "bird prestige," as "sparrows" are what most people see hanging around garbage and "dead french fries" at the hamburger barns.

Barn swallows would never stoop, or sweep (sorry can't help myself) so low. They are more like jet fighters; fast, swift of wing, able to turn sharp corners and sweep up their prey in singular fell-swoops.

If your bird's tail was rather sharply, forked, it was no doubt a barn swallow.

7:50 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

Hey Jim,

I'm pretty sure this was simply a common fry eating sparrow, no fork in the tail and we don't have a ton of swallows around here as far as I know. How ever, we do have a lot of sparrows. Maybe I played the color up to much, but as I mentioned I was surprised at the intensity of it close up. Thanks for taking the time to express your thoughts and opinions.

7:58 PM  

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