I spend a lot of time in the dry mulga country of northern Victoria – hot, dusty, ant-infested and full of birds. Hattah-Kulkyne National Park is my idea of heaven! About 30 years ago I was wandering through the Black Box floodplain at Hattah when I witnessed a young Black Falcon learning to hunt. It was obviously newly independent and making a valiant effort to catch its breakfast. The Mulga Parrots escaped to live another day, but the image never left my mind… I knew there was a painting to be wrangled out of that scene if I could just find the right reference, along with the patience to do the picture justice.
Black Falcons are fast – like guided missiles they home in on their prey. Their streamlined shape and athleticism makes them a joy to watch. But they are also uncommon, so it’s a special day when you catch a glimpse of a Black streaking past. For the next 30 years that moment in time was etched in my memory. However it wasn’t until I saw some of Bernie McRitchie’s wonderful photos of Black Falcons that I decided to attempt this painting. And even then it struggled to make it into the light of day.
My agent at the time hated blue. As an artist who paints Australian birds in the Australian landscape, it is highly problematic trying to avoid using blue…..Our vivid blue skies are a vital part of the story – and in my mind essential when putting birds into realistic settings. So I painted the scene as I recalled it, but left the sky white. It didn’t work and I retired the painting back under the bed to compost.
Then my agent and I parted ways – happy days; I could use all the blue I wanted without being harassed. So the painting that started 30 years ago is now finally finished – blue sky and all! And not only is it finished, when I posted it on Facebook the response was so positive it is now available as a signed limited edition print - just check it out in my online shop.