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Totem of Crows by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "Totem #8: Stacked Crows"
48 x 24"
Oil over Acrylic on Cradled Board

How to buy
Crows and ravens are a favorite subject of mine. They are beautiful to be sure, but what I find most appealing about them is their intelligence and how that manifests in a host of interesting behaviors and a marvelous sense of attitude. After painting one of my “tiny totems” of ravens two years ago, I have been eager to do a large-scale crow or raven totem, but lacked adequate reference material until recently. I observed these crows strutting about on a neighbor’s roof and was hugely grateful to have snapped just enough good photos before they flew away. I decided to take advantage of their dark plumage to push the color palette in a more subjective direction. Similar to the background I did for “Teton Totem” last year, the vibrant colors are suggestive of a sunset. More importantly, these high-keyed hues allowed me to push the saturation of the iridescent blues and violets that tinge the crows’ otherwise black plumage.

The Totem series began in 2016, when a lifelong fascination with the totem poles of the American Pacific Northwest met with my new awareness of an unusual natural phenomenon, the “toteming” of Harris Hawks. For reasons ornithologists still don’t understand, these birds will sometimes stand on each other’s backs in stacks up to four birds high. Inspired by the sculptures of Tony Hochstetler and Peter Woytuk, some of whose works evoke totem poles, I had already been ruminating on how I could re-envision the Native American totem pole in a modern context within a series of paintings. The toteming of the Harris Hawks crystalized that idea, and I set to work painting stacked birds and animals. These tension-filled and gravity defying columns of familiar creatures suggest the fragile balance of ecosystems under increasing pressure from man, and they are yet another outlet for my continued obsession with pattern and repetition. The repeated juxtaposition of the same or related animals, and the re-contextualizing of those subjects outside of their natural habitats, encourage viewers to consider what they know (or think they know) about those animals in a new light. Most importantly, these paintings explore the iconic significance with which human beings imbue wildlife. Just as Native Americans did (and still do) use characteristics of various animals as metaphors for our own human qualities and aspirations (the wiliness of a fox, wisdom of an owl, or speed of a puma for instance) so too do even the most technologically distracted among us use, recognize, and relate to animals in our logos, apps, and product branding. In this context, the title, Between the Lines, alludes to this symbolic underpinning.

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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