"Field Guide to the Birds of North America"

"Field Guide to the Birds of North America"

oil on canvas. 8"X10" each.
An on-going project - currently at 210 paintings

I consider FGBNA a singular
artwork, without beginning or end - composed of multiple paintings - each,
an intimate abstraction. The groups of paintings are displayed in murmuration patterns, evoking the
murmurations of migrating birds.


The system of thought originally represented by FGBNA was presented to me as a child. It is based on
scientific observation and description. This a useful approach to understanding the world - a red bird is
named "a Cardinal" so that it can be distinguished from a yellow bird, which is call a 'Goldfinch', etc. I
fully embraced this system and it helped me begin to navigate my way through the world. I loved birds
as a child, and the scientific approach was a way of connecting with them.

But, as I grew into an adult, a deeper understanding and appreciation of the world eventually required
me to leave rational thought and scientific systems behind. I wanted to re-establish the sense of wonder
I carried as a child. Art is an approach which can help in that deeper understanding and appreciation.
Abstraction, Formalism, and Expressionism have been my chief ‘loves’ in the world of Painting.

I use each bird depicted in the original “Field Guide to the Birds of North America” as a starting
reference. But, my aim in each painting is to move beyond the rational thought system and bird
description and allow another system to take its place. This 'alternative system' is based on allowing the
Subconscious and what I would call my 'emotional center' to take over and express the bird in a non-
verbal, more direct way - a small, expressive,  intimate abstraction results.

My subconscious seems to contain the history of
abstraction/non-objective painting in it, so this
influence reveals itself obliquely at times, and directly at times. The paintings play with the concept of
abstraction, in that an ‘object’ - the bird - is already established, forcing the mind to accept the non-
objective image as object and unquestioned subject.
Great Grey Owl                               Baltimore Oriole                                    Bufflehead

Red-Headed Woodpecker                       Woodthrush                                      Blue Jay
Yellowthroat                                       Cardinal                                          Goldfinch

Great Blue Heron                              Barn Swallow                            White-breasted Nuthatch
"Field Guide to the Birds of North America"
Large Array #1
oil on canvases, each canvas 10"X8"
"Field Guide to the Birds of North America"
Small Array #1
oil on canvases, each canvas 10"X8"
"Field Guide to the Birds of North America"
Small Array #2
oil on canvases, each canvas 10"X8"
Tointon Gallery for the Visual Arts, Greeley, CO. June 25th - July 21st, 2018.

"Field Guide to the Birds of North America"
Installation as part of
"Murmuration"
An exhibition of paintings by David Sheldon
Private collection : Installation view, 2018.