Sometimes we creative sorts can be our own worst enemies but this morning I was determined to forget about the fear of trying to paint something new and just begin!
“Begin already,” I scolded myself. And so I finally went to my upstairs art room to paint a chicken. Not my first chicken but definitely one of the first.
No matter the subject I typically paint from photographic reference due to time constraints (mostly). But even if I did have the time to sit and paint my chickens from life it would be immensely difficult since chickens are constantly on the move. Scratching, pecking and pooping all over the place is their modus operandi… always on the move with the exception of roosting in the evenings and laying an egg almost once a day in their nesting boxes. Chickens are charming creatures. Correction, hens are charming creatures. Roosters can be combative and confrontational, which I found out the hard way (and that is a story I will share with you another day).
So… this morning before work I settled in with a photograph of one of my hens. It was taken when she was about two months old and if you’re familiar with hens you’ll notice that her comb isn’t fully-developed. She is still a handsome young hen and pretty enough to be portrait worthy so I plunged in.
Resisting the temptation to just paint without planning, which is a recipe for disaster, instead I took out a 2H pencil and began sketching on Arches 140 pound hot press paper. Arches hot press is a paper with a very smooth surface and I find the absorption qualities are not as strong as the cold press I typically use. The reason for using hot press this time is that I hope to be able to push the paint around a little more freely while gently layering color over color (glazing).
While lightly sketching and with a plastic eraser in hand I began by first noting and gently laying in the large oval shape of the head and continued by adding light lines over and over again until I found the “right line.” Once the “right line” was in place I could then gently, ever so gently erase the other lines. Using a plastic eraser, I have found, causes a minimum of disruption to the surface of your paper. (Note that any harsh disruption to the surface of the paper will be noticeable once the painting begins.)
After I’d taken a photo of this initial sketch for this blog post I noticed the positioning of the eye was a little off so with my trusty eraser again I gently moved the eye to a more correct position. Remember that we are artists not cameras and what we need to do is our best, nothing more.
So, that’s where I left it before leaving for work.
It felt good to start and I’m excited about continuing and while a good start is no promise of a good outcome I won’t stop now! I’m on the precipice of a great chicken discovery. Do stop back to watch as I unleash the chicken!