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How did I spend my summer? I went to Grand Marais, Minnesota with my friend Diane. We stayed with her parents at their Lake Superior-side cabin. It's beautiful up there. We went intending to paint. Instead I fell in love with a goose.

This is Gooser, an 18-year-old Toulouse goose. He has more attitude and presence than most world leaders. I fell so hard in love with him that I actually got myself invited back for another long weekend just so that I could make more sketches and photograph this bird. (He lives with Diane's cousins Phyllis and Wayne. They graciously put up with my intrusions.)

Some of my Gooser sketches can be seen in the journaling section of my website. See the sections labeled "July and August 2005" and "Grand Marais 2005."

Home again, with sketches on the drawing board and lust in my heart, I made this 11 x 14 inch portrait. I used a piece of Fredrix Watercolor Canvas Board, acrylic ink, gouache, and watercolor.

This was the first time I'd worked on this type of board and I love it. The surface allows you to go wet and drippy or to dry brush and get the most wonderful broken lines from the canvas texture.

I am fascinated by the way birds' beaks connect to their heads, that interface of beak with feather, the hard-edged fake-attachment look. And I am intrigued by their eyes. This is not a self-portrait as so many of my bird paintings end up being. This is an individual entirely whole and real; symbolic to me only in the sense that he is a poster boy for charisma.

People who have seen the painting in real life say it is a bit intimidating. It's larger than life and they see the dinosaur aspects of Gooser's DNA. To me the look (and the eye follows you around the room just like that gull eye, precipitating another gleeful dance about the studio when it was completed) is hypnotically inviting and not at all threatening. This is a goose who knows who he is. To me the larger than life-size aspect is as familiar as those movie posters of Robert Redford I hung on my bedroom wall as a teenager: and just as heart grabbing.


Painting © 2005 Roz Stendahl; All Rights Reserved