Sussex Speckled and Brahma

This painting was commissioned by a mum for her daughter’s birthday, who a few years ago had these two breeds as much loved pet chickens. Commissions always make me nervous, but it went well, possibly on account of having painted a books worth of them for Ivy Press last year. As usual I get absorbed and forget to photograph enough stages of the painting. By the way if anyone wants a painting of a specific breed, I’m your girl!

I’ve used a Khadi paper, which is made from recycled cotton in India, has a good tough and rough surface which feels a little irregular, which I love. It is hard to stretch so tend to buy the heavier weights (300lb) and don’t bother with the stretching. I’ve been using chinese brushes a lot recently, various sizes; they are soft and don’t spring back or resist like a sable or similar, this creates some interesting broken textures across the texture of the paper, and they also make good ‘combs’ by flattening them out, which is good for feathering. I’m a bit reluctant to do this to a £100 Winsor and Newton Kolinski sable brush. Once I’ve got some wet paint and the basic shape down I will drop in both more paint, still very wet but more saturated, and water which will push the paint away and create lighter areas, creating plenty of ‘cauliflowers’ etc. The white areas on the cockerel are too fiddly to paint around so there are two choices, resist in the form of masking fluid or wax/clear oil pastel, or opaque white gouache. I use the latter for preference, I like the brush quality, and the softer look.
Many more chickens here link to my website

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