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Screech Owls by Andrew Denman
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"Modern Camouflage II"
24 x 30" Acrylic on Cradled Board
Western Screech Owls

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“Modern Camouflage II” is the second in a series of paintings that has been a tantalizing but unresolved concept in my head for many years. I’ve long been fascinated with pattern, and more specifically with the idea of juxtaposing organic and inorganic patterns, but this painting is probably the farthest I’ve taken the idea. I had an image in my head of an owl hidden amongst a weave of pattern, evoking wallpaper, and bearing a cheeky title along the lines of “Nine Out of Ten Owls Approve of your Wallpaper.” The biggest challenge, as I then saw it, was how to bridge the gap between a realistically painted owl and a two dimensional background. My breakthrough was, in fact, the realization that no such bridge was needed. Much of the history of western art from the mid-19th century and into the 20th is a struggle between the treatment of the canvas in the Renaissance-inspired, “illusionistic” manner, as a space the viewer can imagine himself stepping into, or as a flat surface to be decorated. It may seem awkward that the illusionistically painted screech owl’s talons seem to be curving around a perch even though they are “gripping” a two-dimensional sweep of background pattern, but this tension is precisely the point. The “Modern Camouflage” Series is about the contrast between patterns in nature and man-made patterns, so this very tension is an entirely integral expression of the piece’s conceptual underpinnings. While the damask pattern is not an organic outgrowth of the owl’s color pattern, its dense weave of white and grey does dialogue with the similarly complex plumage of the screech owls. It’s worth noting that these patterns, like nearly everything we think of as “abstract” are at their core, mimetic of natural shapes; the twists and curls of the damask pattern, particularly where they break from the strictures of repetition to become more organic and improvisational, become reminiscent of leaves and branches.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
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