The South’s Next Great Wildlife Artist
Art Business

The South’s Next Great Wildlife Artist

Ryan Kirby works on a painting of doves, Mourning Glory, at his home in Boone, North Carolina. The hardest part, Ryan Kirby insists, is painting the animal’s foot—the cloven hoof of an elk or a deer, or the pebbly texture of a wild turkey’s tridactyl W. “No, really,” he says earnestly, aware that I’m not quite with him on this point. “Painting an animal’s foot on the ground, with the right proportions, the balance, so the animal actually feels like it’s stepping and walking yet still connected.” He shakes his head. A big exhalation. “If I get the muscle structure just right, and the tendons and the highlights in the hair and all the angles, then that place where the foot meets the ground is the starting point in understanding how the animal relates to its environment.” Much of a painting’s energy and meaning flow from that one spot on the canvas, he says. It is the nexus of the animate and the inanimate, a window into the relationship of a subject to the world it inhabits. Which is a lot to think about when it comes to a turkey foot, but Kirby and I have been thinking about […]

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