Anatomy of an Artwork, Part Two

Here’s how my little donation for the New Bedford Art Museum evolved:

I prepared my wood panel with paint and roughed up the surface a little. I used Sculpey to construct a nest and bird. And then, even with the 100-degree temperatures and high humidity now, I baked them in the oven — see what we do for our art!

A nest under construction with pellets of Sculpey.
Little Sculpey nest
A hand displays a small sculptured bird.

I attached the parts to the wood panel, using paint and matte medium. Dried grass, which I collected from the park, was strategically poked among the nest pellets in order to replicate the look of the Barn Swallow nest. I also found a real little feather which I placed near the top of the nest.

I wanted to recreate the feeling of how the swallows choose to build their nest in close quarters: up high near the roof of a barn, under the eaves, cramped in near the storm gutters, etc., so I used a small piece of wood and placed it just above the nest. This bird would have to wriggle carefully in and out of the nest just like the real ones do.

And here it is. Inspired by John James Audubon and in support of the New Bedford Art Museum.

A three-dimensional mixed media painting of a swallow in a nest under an eave.
Feathered Nest