In this painting I played with different types of contrast to create visual drama and draw the viewer in.
Besides the subtle contrasts between hard and soft edges, carefully blended brushwork and (seemingly) loose and spontaneous brushstrokes, I used two powerful contrasts to focus the viewer's attention on the key elements of the painting.
First of all, there's the complementary color contrast between the blue-violet sky and the orange-yellow bird's eye. Secondly, there's the strong contrast between light and dark.
The main inspiration for this painting came from a beautiful effect we sometimes see in nature: when mesmerizing sunlight illuminates the landscape minutes before a big thunderstorm. I wanted to capture this stunning contrast between bright sunlight and deep dark skies with ominous water laden storm clouds.
Not only does this dramatic celebration of light and dark create visual interest, it also helps to tell the story of this painting, in tandem with the composition. The story in this case being one of hope and positivity. From our point of view, the goshawk's head is positioned just above the clouds. It's a reminder that the light is always there, even when everything around you is dark and gloomy. Above the storm the sun is still shining and the sky is crystal clear.
If you've ever taken off in a plane on a cloudy day, you'll understand this perfectly. On the ground everything is gray and dark. As the plane ascends it eventually slices through the thick layer of clouds. Suddenly it's no longer a gloomy day, but a pristine sky layered with white clouds, illuminated by a bright shining sun.
Sometimes when we experience difficulties in life, we lose the ability to have hope. Our world becomes clouded. We only see the darkness, the storm, the chaos and isolation. Change your vantage point and you'll see that right above the storm, there is hope.
The sun is still shining in your life, even if you cannot see it today.