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Cardinal by Andrew Denman
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"Mr. Fantastic"
12 x 16" Acrylic on Cradled Board, 2016
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The cardinal is among the most iconic and recognizable birds in the US and around the world. Itís streamlined, crested silhouette, vivid red plumage, and striking black mask have been a staple of Holiday Cards, Christmas decorations, and a general sign of winter cheer for as long as I can remember. Living in Northern California, however, far beyond the natural range of these magical birds, they have taken on something of a mythic status for me. How can a bird so well known, so iconic, be one that I have never seen? Well, it was until just a few years ago when I traveled to the east coast to research a commission and visit friends and family. I caught only a few glimpses of these birds, but I was able to gather enough reference to include cardinals in the Polychrome Project, a massive installation piece for an east coast client. The project was an exploration of non-objective color, and as it happened, when I painted my first cardinal, I painted itís feathers green, rather than red, to make a point about how we perceive something we think we know when our expectations of color are obfuscated.

Shortly thereafter, I would encounter cardinals again, equally briefly, when I traveled to Mexico for the first time. Associating cardinals as I did with snowy landscapes and holly berries, it was surreal seeing their claret red plumage against the grey green, ochers, and siennas of the dry, desert landscape. These sightings did not immediately resolve themselves into a painting, but the kernel of an idea began to form. Only now, after a particularly good cardinal sighting in the botanical gardens of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (which I was visiting for the opening reception of my national touring exhibition, Andrew Denman: The Modern Wild, and to teach a workshop) am I finally giving this scarlet icon its due. I watched and listened to this lovely male as he sang his heart out from within a craggy old mesquite tree not far from the museumís Ironwood Gallery. I was particularly interested in contrasting the highly saturated reds of the bird with the muddy, greyed down greens of the mesquite. I chose not to paint the backdrop of filmy leaves, but only to suggest them with color, allowing the dramatic tracery of dark, shadowed branches to provide a counterpoint to the buoyant and luminous reds that threaten, quite literally, to fly away at any moment.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California Ėbased, 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.
All artwork and text featured on this page and throughout this website is protected by international copyright laws. Use of these images or text is prohibited without the express written permission of Andrew Denman.