My Muse, My Chicken

So, it’s been a little while since my last post. I’m sorry. The delay was caused by two reasons:

1. I’ve been working a lot.

2. I was developing my latest painting.

But I’ve finished the painting and now I’m ready to show it off to y’all.


My parents have a ceramic chicken that has been kicking around our house for quite a few years. I’ve always thought it was an interesting object and last spring I put it in a painting of my parents. I lost interest in that painting and never finished it, but I still wanted to paint the chicken. It took me several months, but I finally got around to it.

image (1)

When I started arranging the still life I realized that I had no idea what else to put along with the chicken. My mother, who is also an artist, always tells me to vary the textures. This helps prevent monotony. Keeping her advice in mind, I scoured my house for suitable objects. I wound up deciding on a fake plant and a small wooden cow. These three objects are all different textures but they maintain the theme of “fake renditions of living things.”

image (2)

After setting the still life up I did a preliminary sketch. I then traced the sketch in Sharpie and executed the underpainting. I’ve developed a process through my last few paintings and usually take no longer than a couple hours to finish the sketch and underpainting. I like to get into the actual painting as quick as possible.

image (3)

During the first go-through of the painting I always block out shapes of color. I tend to think of painting as a series of steps where with each progressive step you break the blocks of color down into smaller blocks of color. This helps me stay focused on color relationships instead of details.

image (6)

For this painting I used very little white. And the white I did use was a mixture of permalba white and yellow ochre pale. My palette mainly consisted of burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, yellow ochre pale, and cadmium orange. Those colors built up the majority of the painting, and when I found I needed something extra I also used cadmium yellow, raw sienna, venetian red, cadmium red, raw umber, sap green, viridian, french ultramarine, and ivory black. For the most part these were accessory colors necessary in the development of specific areas of the painting. I used the greens and cadmium yellow in the plant and the darker colors in the cow.

image (7)

As I painted, I found that the chicken was divided into five color areas. The head was red, the neck was tan, the body and breast were orange, the tail was brown, and the base was yellow. There were variations within those areas, but those colors were the general feel. This realization helped me to focus my color selections.

image (5)

Making the feathers of the chicken feel full and rounded was a long process. I would play with the shadows and lights until I felt it was right, and then realize the color was off.

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After working on the chicken for so long, it was a nice change of pace to work on the chicks. The yellows were warmer and tended to lean towards oranges and reds. I also found the greens on the base created a nice contrast with the chicks.

image (10)

While I enjoyed working on the chicks, I found myself annoyed by the red bottom of the base. Instead of getting hung up on it, I moved along through the table and over into the cow. I immediately jived with my painting. I busted out the cow in a short amount of time and felt great while I did it. I believe the limited amount of color I had to use was what helped me to get in the groove.

Chicken Still Life High Quality

In my last couple sessions I finished off the plant and worked on harmonizing the objects. With such a dark backdrop, it was necessary to make sure the objects didn’t appear to pop and separate from their surroundings. I made sure to keep this in mind through the entire painting process, but I went back over everything just to be safe.

I feel satisfied with the end result of the painting. My theme worked out and I feel there is a solid unity to the piece. However, I doubt I will be painting the chicken again. I found the cow much more enjoyable to paint.

With this piece done, I am now returning to the figure. I’ll be keeping the paintings relatively small, so the next update should be just around the corner.

One thought on “My Muse, My Chicken

  1. Pingback: A Return to the Past | Oil and Pen

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