I just finished a Peregrine painting for a friend and collector Col. Brian Kaley. The cool thing about this peregrine is that it will be on permanent display as part of the United States Air Force Academy art collection in Colorado Springs, gifted to the academy by the Kaley’s. And by the way, the Academy decides if the work is good enough for them to accept!
When Brian and I spoke about painting this falcon I thought, Wow, this is really great, but then I remembered the rivalry that we (the University of Wyoming) had with the Air Force Academy when I was playing baseball at UW. It was always heated and very competitive, but we loved playing at the Academy because their facilities were so good. We really thought they were spoiled and we had some great games. So, I thought I’ve really got to do a good job with this bird! After all, I know the folks at USAF know a little bit about peregrines! I wanted a pose that highlighted the sleekness and aerodynamics of the bird, since this critter is all about speed…from its nostrils to its wingtips.
I resisted a flying pose because I also wanted a bit of regal aloofness in the painting. Prior to this, I had the honor of meeting Dr. Jim Enderson, one of the very first (if not the first scientist) to recognized that the peregrines were disappearing and come up with a plan to bring them back from the brink. He also determined that DDT was causing the egg shells to break prematurely. Jim and his partners would spend long days looking for peregrine nests, which happen to be very hard to get to! They would then climb to these nests and take the real eggs out and replace them with dummy eggs, all the while dodging an upset parent!! They would then hatch the eggs, climb back to the nest with a hatchling and replace them in the nests from which they came, giving the parents a chance to raise healthy birds. Dr. Enderson subsequently wrote a book about peregrines, “Peregrine Falcon, Stories of the Blue Meanie.” He felt that peregrines were always a little bit ticked off, and a little bit aloof, as the title of his book illustrates. This slightly ticked attitude, coupled with the birds regal posture, was what I was after. I think I captured it.
What a fabulous bird, whole and complete, designed perfectly for the world it functions in! Funny how things happen, I am really proud of this peregrine and totally honored to have it hang at the USAF Academy!