Painting Social

“Social” has several different meanings, but what I mean here is how we communicate and interact with each other through talking, writing, reading, art, music, entertainment, touch, gift giving, selfless actions, and more. In our first example, “Redwing Blackbirds” are having a chat. Painting the act of talking is depicted by the tilt of the head. The speaker’s face is positioned upward, or forward, while the listener’s face is tipped downward (the reverse direction works well too). Angling the head or body position shows interaction between the pair or group.

Their body language speaks of an active conversation going on between the two birds. A loud or energetic exchange can be conveyed by painting a widely opened mouth (beak) and contrasting body positions. Their eyes and feathers are also expressive, mainly by the positioning of the lines and shapes. The speaking bird (extended body position) looks to be standing firmly for whatever he’s so passionate about, while the listening bird (bent body position) seems resigned to getting an earful. Notice the feet? The speaking bird is perched firmly, while the listening bird is clutching in a slouched manner, but neither look like they’re about to fly away any time soon. Engaged in rapt conversation, this pair looks like they could be old friends.

These affectionate “Spring Lambs” express their friendship through woolly hugs and shy smiles. Painting social touch can be depicted through texture and brush strokes. Soft textures, through fabrics (or fur, feathers, wool), combined with smooth brush strokes (skin, faces, eyes) can convey affection. A slight smile and a subtle tilt to the eyes suggests positive social interaction.

The highest social level, or perhaps we should say “the deepest depth”, is communicating through selfless acts of love. In the above “Angel Releasing Dove” video, you can watch how I made this art with shells and a dove from a sand dollar. Painting extended limbs and outstretched bodies conveys the act of letting go, releasing energy and emotion, and making a full, without abandon, commitment to an action. The shell “wings” are in both the back and the front, seemingly to support the angel as she leans forward to release the dove. Perhaps we can view this as a metaphor: when we choose selfless acts of love, we will not be left to fall, as we will be held up by angel’s wings.