The Traveling Chicken, affectionately known as Miss Chicken or TC, visited my studio for 2 weeks. She is a wee one, but loaded with possibility!
Deciding on just what to do with this ceramic chicken was a conundrum. She was smaller and frankly, less interesting than I had imagined her to be. Also, I thought Miss chick should be sitting amidst a flower or two - to 'go' with my current florals. Ultimately, I decided to just have fun with it.
Because of her size, I pictured her amidst the many 'set-ups' my two sons create with their star wars figures, superheroes, legos, etc. I basically let the boys play with her (on a cushy carpeted floor to avoid any mishaps), while I tried to capture an inspiring photo to paint from.
The boys had a great time including her in many different scenarios. Some tension arose and we had to take turns (myself included) because we all had our own ideas for the little ceramic chicken!
Because we were indoors and we were 'playing' right before bedtime (dark outside), it was hard to get good photos. My 9 year old found a small, but glaring, flashlight that we tried to use as a spotlight. Here are some of the better shots.
The next morning, I brought her downstairs - and saw our chess set on the coffee table. Perfect! Miss Chicken gets to be the queen, good lighting was coming in from a nearby window, there were interesting textures and possibilities for a captivating composition.
Yep - but that little 4x6 inch composition was not so simple (surprise, surprise). For a while, Miss Chicken got lost (literally) in the game. Making the onyx chess pieces 'make sense' was a challenge. I pushed and pulled values for hours.
BUT working with a different subject, blending and mixing and layering the oil paint, arranging (and rearranging) the composition - all were valuable and just plain fun.
Before she left for Pamela Sweet's studio in Florida, I took some photos of Miss Chicken with her new friends.
To read about Miss Chick in more of a story form, visit my post on The Traveling Chicken blog.
When I see the sun breaking through the trees, my attention is led away from the day-to-day.
In that magical moment, I experience peace.
'Breaking Through' is a triptych (3 canvases, 12x36in. each), commissioned by Central DuPage Hospital, to be hung on a curved wall in their new Maternal Fetal Medicine suite.
There's a message of hope in such a scene. I keep taking pictures, trying to capture it. Look how the light gets so bright in the center that the branches closest to the light seem to disappear.
I took photos of my progress - from sketch to completed painting. In order to reflect my original inspiration of the sun breaking through the branches, I realized that the circles needed to be brought tighter together and painted brighter as they got closer to the center of the light. (I wasn't trying to make it snow!)
Seeing it broken down into steps, it looks easier that it was!
Color-wise, I was coordinating with 'Drink' - another painting purchased for the suite.
I wrote about the inspiration for 'Drink' in a previous post: All Who Are Thirsty...Drink
Glorious Day, 6x6in., oil on board
I have this nagging expectation in my head that says 'real' painters paint 'plein air'. Wikipedia defines plein air: "a French expression which means "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors." Doesn't that sound artistically official?
While I can appreciate the tremendous value of painting on location, painting outside has not yielded great results for me. But, the weather was gorgeous, so I felt like I should give it a go - for the practice.
(Secretly, I was hoping I would be victorious!)
I scouted out a few fascinating blooms in our Rose of Sharon bushes, noting how the light was making the petals glow. It took several trips back and forth to get all of my paraphernalia out to the spot I had selected...Then a couple more as I realized what I'd forgotten. I was optimistic that this time I would succeed!
After an hour or so, I headed back inside with an awkward looking bloom. Last night, I finished the painting in my studio while referring to the photos I had taken earlier. (sheepish grin)
As for painting outside: I will try painting plein air again another day (It really is good practice for seeing shapes and color.) Today, I think I'll go back outside to paint the trim around our garage. Now, that I can do!
I would love to read your thoughts...