“Sometimes all signs point to the need to paint a certain painting and that was certainly the case with ‘Primary,’” relates Andrew Denman. “A local gallery owner called to let me know of the unfortunate demise of a beautiful red-breasted sapsucker and offered me the chance to collect the bird. I wanted to honor the bird and this dramatic trompe l’oeil treatment, the primary colors and the symmetrical composition, lend the piece the iconic feel I’d envisioned. One gets the sense of this beautiful woodpecker rising again.
“I had already laid my model to rest when I realized that the composition would not be complete without the fallen feather in the lower part of the picture. I was kicking myself for not having kept a few of the sapsucker’s feathers when I remembered that my grandmother had given me an envelope of feathers she’d collected from her property a week earlier that I had not yet opened. Sure enough, among them was the feather I needed! Although the red-breasted sapsucker is not a rare bird, I had not seen one in the more than twenty years I’d lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and my grandmother had randomly found just the feather I needed at precisely this time. It’s extraordinary. To add to the magic, I was taking a walk not two blocks from my house a week after I finished this painting when one of these splendid birds flew right across my path. It felt as though nature were speaking to me, giving me a little nod of encouragement and approval.”