So it took me three days to make five paintings, but that’s okay I guess. I took a picture of all of them so you can get a sense of what I do when I make five paintings. I tend to work on the same one or two images. By doing the same painting, more or less, I can use the same paint I’ve mixed up on the palette. I’m trying to get better about not wasting paint by letting it get dried out, and this is one way to be more economical about my paint. My eyes are too big for my canvas most times. Another reason for painting the same image is that I can try different techniques and approaches to the painting. I could be perfectly happy painting the same thing over and over for days on end. What I lack in cleverness I make up for in volume.
So, that’s that. I won’t be doing any chicken paintings for a week, because I am heading to Milwaukee on Monday to do some murals. I will be taking pictures and writing about my work as I do it, so if you like to read about paint drying as much as I like watching it dry, you’re in for a real treat.
So I broke through my painter’s block today. I went out to the beach, put on a headband from Mr. Miyagi, stepped onto a tree stump, and did the crane. And whaddya know? I made a chicken. Paint the fence, sand the floor.
You can see in the first picture that the sketch on the canvas is the second attempt I made. The first one was a big pile of suck, so I erased it and turned the canvas upside down. That makes it a little easier to not repeat the mistakes I made with the first sketch. Artist’s tricks! They’re fun!
The way I’m structuring these chicken paintings is a little different than how I usually construct a painting, but I think that’s because I’m painting from a photograph, and I’m trying to speed up the painting process. (If I get into craft fairs, I have to have inventory to sell.) But you can still see how I block out patterns and strive for some color balance throughout the painting.
The chicken is almost finished at this point, and it’s here that you can really see the difference in the way these paintings are made versus other, longer, paintings. For the most part, I paint the figure and the ground at the same time, but in the case of these chicken paintings, the ground is generally one uniform color. One of the advantages I have found in waiting until the figure is nearly finished to begin painting the ground color is that I can shore up the contours and sharpen up the form of the figure. Economy of paint distribution!
And there you have it! That’s how you make a chicken, in four easy steps. One note on the antlers: I have three racks of antlers in my studio that I use as props. I set them up (or sometimes just hold them) in the same position as the chicken’s head so they look natural. You know, like chickens with antlers look in the wild.
Hooray! I made two of these this afternoon. When I am in a really good groove, I can make up to five a day, but I’m not going to press my luck. Two chickens in one afternoon is going to have to do for today. Now I’m going to eat dinner. Can you guess what we’re having?
Sometimes, I write haikus in my head. It satisfies my need to write and the desire to count on my fingers. Years ago, I wrote this one at a grad school portfolio review:
Painting’s dead again.
Killed, only to be re-born.
It’s always dying.
In honor of my current crop of paintings, I paid homage to our feathered friends:
While standing there all
pigeon-toed, the chicken was
(eek!) a sitting duck.
A little macabre, sure, but such is the circle of life. The sun rises ’cause the world turns. You feel me?