Monthly Archives: November 2017

An Exercise in Contrast: Pandas vs. Donald Trump

Posted November 10, 2017 by Kerry McFall

Donald Trump is touring Asia, representing the United States. Pandas are residing at the San Diego Zoo, representing China.

Trump is a danger to the planet and every creature on it.  Pandas are seriously endangered, with or without the rest of the planet.

painting of panda bear

“Pigeon Toed Panda”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

Black and white is a difficult combination to work with, artistically speaking.  It’s hard to keep one from overpowering the other in a work of art.  After I painted the border for my Panda, my first reaction was, “Oh, boogers, those diangles in the corners are too strong…”  But the more I looked, the more it became apparent that their strength was useful to impart the feeling of being caged in a zoo.  They provide visual imprisonment, preventing your eye from leaving the enclosure, just like the bears are physically imprisoned, walking round and round and round on their pigeon-toed paws.  Don’t get me wrong – I fully understand the need for protection and research, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish for a world where humans weren’t wreaking such havoc with our planet, where pandas were safe in their own environments.  Maybe that’s why his hind foot is ever-so-slightly outside of the border…

Trump is in it for the money and the power.  Pandas are in it for survival.  I am THIS close (holds up fingers with no space between) to wishing we had a panda for president instead of Trump.  It would be way cheaper just in terms of the cost of golf weekends, or making sure the Tweets weren’t being hacked by Russia, China, North Korea, &/or the teenager down the street.  Pardon the rant.  It’s been a year.

pencil sketches

Panda prep sketches, Kerry McFall

Ducks Foot In The Mud – Finley National Wildlife Refuge

Geese are reliable, to a point.  They fly in V formation.  Pretty much.  They migrate every autumn and spring.  Except the ones who decide that life on the golf course year round is way less work.  They are majestic flyers.  Mostly, aside from those awkward landings now and then.  I suspect that they post sentries, so most of the flock can relax and poke around in the mud — I saw it at least once, and tried to capture it “en plein air”, as shown below.  What you don’t see here is that these guys were around the edge of the marsh, but several hundred yards north were literally thousands of geese.  They were all about 1/4″ apart, gabbling excitedly in the shallow water… until with a roar they were suddenly all airborne!  Didn’t manage to capture that…!!

painting of geese in the marsh

“Finley Geese Sentries,” mixed media by Kerry McFall

Ducks I know less about.  When I hear them communicate out at Finlely, I am reminded of the Three Stooges laughing, “quwhack-whaa-whaack!” The one thing I’m really sure of about ducks is that their wings flap really, really fast when they fly.  I also know that they leave terrific footprints in the mud, and the traditional quilt pattern Ducks Foot in the Mud is based on the simple geometry of their webbed feet.

Traditional quilt pattern interpreted 

Purists may look at the painting below and note that the quilt pattern in the border is about ducks, but there are no ducks in the painting.  What you don’t see is all the mud where the cattails grew, and there were bound to be some duck (or goose) prints in that mud, so technically we’re OK.  Call it artistic license!

Painting of cattails with quilt-like border

“Ducks Foot in the Mud”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

Speaking of technical, below is the progression of my paintings.  The final one above was Photoshopped using the Poster Edge tool, which gives it a bit more texture than the one in my sketchbook.