©2012, 29" by 20", Watercolour
The idea for this painting, of an osprey pulling a fish up out of the water, came from a discussion I was having with a photographer a while back about how much she really wanted to get a picture of an osprey fishing, but every one that she'd taken was blurry because - with all of the splashing water - her auto-focus couldn't figure out what to focus on. I looked at this as a challenge, and set out to create an image of a fishing osprey that would be posed just right, and would of course be perfectly in focus.
This unusual name for the painting owes itself to a game that I play with my two-and-a-half year old twins. When I'm changing their shirts, I ask them to put their arms up in the air so that I can pull their tops off over their head. Of course, as I do it, I always take the opportunity to tickle them under the arms, and they giggle happily. Anyhow, when I was partway finished this painting (I had the osprey and the fish done, and was just about to start the background), my son Daniel looked at it and recognized the pose, as it was the same one that he was always asked to assume when I changed his shirt, so he pointed at the painting and said "Tickle Bird". The net result is that changing their shirts has become a lot more difficult now because, when they put their arms up in the air, they start flapping them like a bird would.
This painting is also a testament to the usefulness of social media for collaboration. When I was first planning it, I sent a request out to my Facebook friends looking for pictures of a fishing osprey to work from. I'm always amazed at the talents that people have that they keep hidden - it turns out that I have several friends who are also great photographers. This painting is based on roughly a half dozen different photographic images, as well as some elements directly from my imagination. Thanks so much to everyone who helped me out, as well as those who encouraged me along the way as I posted progress shots online.
A step by step description of how I created this painting can be found here: [link]