Art and nature have always played an important role in Cynthia Kulp¹s life, drawing and painting from the first time she can remember. She received her first oil painting set at the age of 7, which began a life-long exploration and passion for painting.
Cynthia and her husband, Rob, share their household with many species of parrots and 4 dogs. There are plenty of models for her paintings at any given time. She finds their intelligence, sensitivity and habits unendingly fascinating. There is limited written information on birds’ quirky behaviors. Most that is known is handed down by word of mouth from experienced birds owners and breeders. Only within the past 5 or so years have scientists actually attempted to study parrots in the wild.
Cynthia imparts a narrative feel to the birds she paints. It not only reveals the “characters” in a piece but also expresses a passage of time with the still image. Specific narrative details infer a past, present and future within the characters of the work. One has to be intimately familiar with the subject in order to identify such tiny details. It is not absolutely essential to be familiar with the subject however. The piece can simply be enjoyed on its own technical merits.
Truth of form, beauty and emotion can be found in singularly small fleeting instances in nature. Most instances happen and are gone before many of us take notice. In the graceful stretch of a wing or an affectionate caress of feathers, my focused searching eye seeks out these moments. Hard work and commitment play a role in any creative life when an artist settles down to find their voice. For me, the labor and commitment of keeping one hundred tropical birds came first and has turned out to be my inspiration. The richness, beauty and absolute truth I found within the lives of my birds saturated my thoughts and dreams; a life of volume and emotion I find irresistible, as a human observer, to attempt to capture.
I’ve been raising and studying parrots over the last 15 years and have been fortunate enough to keep many different species. Having “hands-on” experience affords me the opportunity to observe the intricacies of parrot personalities. Dr. Irene Pepperberg from the University of Arizona has been studying parrot intelligence for the past 25 years and has scientifically proven that parrots are as intelligent as chimpanzees and dolphins. I see parrots as individual sentient beings and attempt to capture those qualities within the subject of my oil paintings.
I have always been interested in the concept of the narrative. I borrowed the Renaissance painters’ legacy of the narrative. They tell a story within the confines of religious or mythical significance. My work explores the narrative with a focus on physiological and behavioral biology of parrots; and this becomes the iconography and is decidedly set aside from human lives and values.
Most large parrots are only one generation out of the wild. To experience a close emotional relationship with a literally wild undomesticated animal is fascinating to me. The human world with all its worries and subterfuge fades away and a single truth emerges, the truth of pure emotion felt without barriers or limitations.
In my work, color plays an important role; the vibrant colors of my subjects echo their highly charged emotional lives. It is surprising how complicated their feelings can be; the many layers of their personalities are mirrored in my execution. Layers upon layer of transparent glazes are applied to capture saturated colors and depth seeming to create a light from within the paintings. As the light of day fades to evening, the paintings still glow and change subtly as if to mirror the changing sky.
– Cynthia Kulp, 2005
Cynthia Kulp’s giclées are printed on archival-quality matte papers, and Lexjet 20 mil satin canvas.
Giclée printing represents an advance in the art of printmaking, rivalling traditional methods and processes to produce high-quality reproductions.
First, a high resolution scan is made of the original. Then, using a professional color inkjet printer with archival quality inks, prints are created on various surfaces, from archival paper to photo paper or canvas. This process results in millions of colors utilizing continuous tone technology, retaining all the fine detail of the original.
Images may be viewed in the Kulp Gallery.