PEACOCK: Variations on a Theme

PEACOCK: Variations on a Theme

Quotation MarksI must confess, I am not much of an “artist,” and in fact I have absolutely NO images in my head at all. You know when a character in a television program says something like, “Close your eyes and relax. Now, tell me what you see?” I am usually thinking, “It is so dark in here.” Seriously. That is why I generally leave the Creating to God, and I simply chronicle His wondrous chef d’oeuvre with my camera. Thus, when I do “create,” I must literally view and manipulate the elements on my palette. Thank You, God, for Photoshop, where I can arrange and rearrange the design elements in endless iterations—size, color, opacity, orientation, etc.—to my little OCD heart’s content.

I was recently challenged by one of my favorite photography groups to create a photographic version of a common 18th and 19th century musical technique—the variation. I imagine it is a particularly effective technique for composers to stimulate their creativity, and experiment with their themes and the habiliments with which they adorn them. The variation is a repetition of motifs or themes that are modified, amplified, and often become more elaborate and ornate as they develop. One of the most famous examples is Haydn’s Variations on a Theme that you can hear at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAuqxEMRapg. One of my favorite variations is Mozart’s 12 Variations in C, with a motif that is instantly recognizable by all Americans. A more contemporary example might be Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Variations. Or try the quirky Variations on Happy Birthday by John Williams. I LOVE the Happy Birthday theme on kettle drums—very inventive! Okay, enough fun, back to the topic.

The motif I selected for my graphic Variation on a Theme is the peacock (Pavo cristatus), which is so opulent and ornate in so many shades and magnifications. I expended a full day manipulating the first three peacock heads in blue, green and gold, before I was able to analyze why I was completely dissatisfied with my progress. I was seeing, and designing “peacocks,” and I needed to stop illustrating a bird, and instead use the bird to illustrate the artwork. Following that revelation, I was suddenly creating a piece of art, a kaleidoscope of patterns and facets, which is how I had conceptualized the challenge in the first place.

The final piece has no symbolism or meaning; it is very simply variations, and a closeup examination of the beauty and majesty of God’s fabulous peacock!

—A. deLeeuw

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Written on August 27th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
Peacock Courtship: Peahen Cameo

Peahen Cameo

Quotation MarksMr. P, with his flamboyant plumage and brash assurance, receives most of the attention and photo opportunities, but I felt Mrs. P deserves her cameo, too. I love her delicate features and gossamer corona or tiara! She is every bit as beautiful as Mr. P, just in a less ostentatious way, and her plumage complements Mr. P’s nicely.

—AdL

Written on May 18th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
Peacock in Sunset

Peacock in Sunset

Quotation MarksYet another shot of Mr. P, although on a different day. Though ’tis not an excellent photo of a peacock, I admire the way he shimmers out of the twilight in the exquisite sunset light. It seems God designed him for just such light and just such moments!

—AdL

Written on May 15th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
Peacock Cameo

Peacock Cameo

Quotation MarksMr. P finally seems to have noticed that his audience has dwindled to just one—me. He has begun to lower his train, and reacquaint himself with the world around him. Yes, silly guy, life, as well as Mrs. P, has moved on without you!

—AdL

Written on May 9th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
Three juvenile peacocks displaying to one another

Courtship Misconception

Quotation MarksI attempted to inform these young peacocks that they were not doing this quite right, but they seemed dubious. I expounded upon the objective of the courtship display, and apprised them of the significance of “the birds and the bees,” but to no avail. There was nothing left to do, but capture their callowness on camera. Such goofy guys!

—AdL

Written on May 7th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
Peacock calling during courtship display

The Show Goes On

Quotation MarksMrs. P ceded graciously to Mr. P’s desire to continue his compelling performance, and moved away to a snack bar. As you can see here, for Mr. P, the show definitely goes on, as he adds vocals to his dance solo. His whole heart is in this recital, though one must wonder at his goal, as he ignores the ladies during his courtship display. He is just a little bit silly!

—AdL

Written on May 4th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
Peahen Eating

A Consolatory Comestible

Quotation MarksMr. P. neglected poor Mrs. P’s delicate advances to continue his exciting and elaborate courtship display. Although we might expect Mrs. P to be heartbroken, but she is putting on a brave face, and holding her head high. Well, actually her head is low as she seeks out a consolatory comestible with which to drown (or stuff) her sorrows. Better luck next time, Mrs. P, and Skål!

—AdL

Written on May 1st, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
Peacock Brushoff

Peacock Brushoff

Quotation MarksThis canNOT be happening! After all the exertion, all the practice sessions, all the discipline, all the preening, Mr. P is so self-absorbed in his own performance he has actually given the adoring Mrs. P the brushoff. After Mrs. P’s tender accolades, Mr. P totally disregarded her, and proceeded with his cocky performance. I kid you not. After a few minutes of adulation and long-suffering persistence, Mrs. P finally capitulated, which is the moment captured here. Poor little girl never did capture his attention, and wandered away disconsolate. Well, honestly, she was not disconsolate; she went and had a snack. A distant second choice, though, I am sure.

—AdL

Written on April 29th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
Peahen Kissing Peacock During Courtship

Peahen Kissing Peacock During Courtship

Quotation MarksHe has done it, and receives the peahen version of a standing ovation! She has glided up to Mr. P, and vouchsafed him a tender peck as a gesture of her approbation. What an incredibly sweet moment!

—AdL

Written on April 26th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Peacock Courtship
Closeup of Peacock During Courtship

Peacock Courtship: Peacock Closeup

Quotation MarksThough Mr. P focuses primarily on his peahen, Mrs. P, he willingly expends a moiety of his scintillating charisma on me. He clearly values an appreciative audience, even of another species. This is almost literally a birds-eye view, and as close as I approximated to Mrs. P’s perspective. And just look at that spectacular exhibition! —AdL

Written on April 23rd, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Macro, Peacock Courtship

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