The Hawk & the Hummingbird

Now and then I get a commission and sometimes they come in groups. A Hawk and a Hummingbird came together and became a priority problem. I tried to bring them up together and they both suffered from lack of focus. Way too much time was spent on them because of false starts. The Hawk you see here is the third version. The first two were torn up and tossed after many, many hours of cutting, painting, and assembling, but not nearly enough hours of planning, research, and determining the graphic and dimensional symbols that would satisfy the solution to the problem. If I ever do another Hawk, I will start with the eye and beak and then build a hawk around them. In this case, I built a hawk and tried to fit the beak and eye into the feather structure…had a helluva time.

Hawk Commission

Hawk Commission

I was cutting and painting the Hummingbird and flowers at the same time as the work on the Hawk was being done. The blossoms were just a bunch of flower-like shapes for a couple of months, and again the bird was done several times, until I simplified things and did my impression of a Hummingbird and not a realistic rendition. I seem to get hung up on the beauty of the real bird, and not on what I can do with my limited abilities and the limitations of my technique.

Hummingbird  Commission

Hummingbird Commission

Photos by: Michael Mauny

In my professional past as a paper sculpture illustrator, jobs came in, sometimes more than one at a time, and they had to be prioritized by deadlines. But I always worked on one at a time, sometimes day and night to finish the first and get on to the next.

In the past dozen years or so, when preparing, say, twenty or more pieces for an exhibition, I could work on several at once because they had similar themes and visual content. I found that they fed off each other and elements in one suggested ideas in the others. But a Hawk in autumn had almost no relationship to a Hummingbird among flowers and there was a conceptual fistfight for several months.

I was so frustrated that I avoided going into my studio for weeks, which is why they took so damn long to finish. As an illustrator, I never missed a deadline in fifty years. Currently, I have two more commissions, a male cardinal, in flight, and a mountain landscape. I am going to work on one at a time, for sure, for damn sure!

Thanks for visiting me…


P.S. A new series of collage classes starts on January 17th in my studio.

2015 Jan:Feb:Mar Leo Monahan Unexpected Image Class Flyer

7 thoughts on “The Hawk & the Hummingbird

  1. That hawk eye penetrates. And I want to hover another moment with the little sugar sweeper.

    …. and thanks for sharing your struggles.

  2. Oh, Leo….your work is so magnificent. These pieces are just so exquisite. I would love to have either one of them. Thank you for sharing the process too, since it’s gratifying to know I am not the only artist who struggles with my work. You make what you do look so easy that it helps to know that even the Great Leo Monahan has his moments, and those moments turn what I am sure was an already beautiful pair of birds into an incredible masterpiece. You, my dear, totally rock!

  3. The hawk, the hummingbird, both beautiful. Viewing your art, hard to believe you have creative blocks, ever. Thank you for sharing.

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