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Chickadees by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "String Theory #2: Chickadees"
20 x 16"
Acrylic on Cradled Board
2011
Mountain Chickadees
$5,600

How to buy
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the Chestnut-Backed Chickadee were among our most frequent garden bird-feeder visitors. These Mountain Chickadees, which I encountered while staying with a friend in Montana, are quite similar, but lack the rust-brown back of their California cousins, making them beautifully monochromatic. Painting a bird that is only grey, black, and white, opens up a lot of possibilities, since there is no inherent color story to drive my own background choices. I briefly considered working with bolder colors, but ultimately decided that the subtle- though far from neutral- combination of cream, blue-grey, and a soft, cherry blossom pink, would do a better job of speaking to the subjects’ gentle natures and understated beauty.

Last year I started “String Theory,” a new series of paintings that sinks its roots years back in my study of art history in college. I have always been fascinated with minimalism, and among my favorites historical examples are Piet Mondrian and Barnett Newman. Both artists brilliantly illustrate the simple but undeniable power of spatial and color harmonies, and the almost magical ability of just a few lines to create mood and meaning.

The contrast between illusionistic imagery and flat decorative treatments has been at the conceptual core of my work for nearly twenty years, owing largely to my study of modern art, so it should come as no surprise that an image of birds essentially flying into a Barnett Newman painting came into my head like a thunderbolt. Simply by virtue of their proximity to more descriptive elements like the birds, otherwise completely flat areas of color become alive and animate in three-dimensional space. The title of the series is not only a humorous play on words and reference to the fact that the avian subjects are, quite obviously, interacting with “strings” or stripes; it also alludes to the manner in which these contextual clues require a re-envisioning of the surrounding space, much as String Theory has (for its proponents anyway) changed our understanding of the cosmological landscape and how its component parts interact. Of course, the concept evolved well past this initial point of inspiration to become something entirely new and very much my own. These pieces suggest the dislocation of birds from their natural environments and their adaptiveness to the urban and suburban habitats we have made. These colorful stripes are not meant to “describe” anything as mundane as a fence posts, branches, or bird feeders; rather they become their own non-objective environments, beautiful, evocative, and otherworldly.

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.
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.