Hen Paintings

Horse Study V by Debi O'Hehir

I’ve been working on a couple of hen paintings this week. I haven’t done any for a long while and we sold the last two of mine in the gallery at the week end. The subjects are our own hens and so I started by taking some pictures of them in the back garden. The two red ones are Rhode Island Reds and the grey is a Bluebell. You may remember I wrote about them during the Summer when we found our first egg.

They move around together and often imitate each others exact movements which is amusing to watch, a bit like synchronised swimming. Well not really..

 

Photo of hens by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

I especially like the triangular appearance of their bodies when they lean over, it’s such a striking shape.

 

Photo of two hens by Deborah Watkins

 

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Bottoms up girls! I love this pose too as they remind me of ladies in old fashioned bloomers..

 

Photo of three hens by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

Here’s how the first painting started. I used a small 4″ x 4″ canvas which I think suits the nature of the subject and also makes for an affordable finished piece.

 

First stage of bluebell hen painting

 

 

 

Here’s the same piece straight on.

 

First stage of Bluebell hen painting from another angle

 

 

 

And here’s the finished painting.

 

 

 

 

I worked this in two sittings. I find the first stage easier as I am mainly concerned with getting the gesture of the hen across. The second stage is always more difficult as I tend to slow down and work more finely to get the detail right. I often find that I lose some of the energy of the pose while doing this.

Here’s the start of the second piece. I continue the painting around the sides as you can see. G will frame these in his own hand made box frames which will display all sides of the canvas, like the one underneath this image.

 

First stage of second hen painting by Deobrah Watkins

 

 

 

Framed hen painting

 

 

 

Here’s the second painting  after some more colour has been added.

 

Second stage of hen painting

 

 

 

This is the same stage but taken straight on.

 

Second stage from a different angle

 

 

 

And here’s the finished piece.

 

Finished hen painting by Deborah Watkins

 

 

 

This one has lost some of the brightness and liveliness it had at the earlier stage but not too much I hope. I find these a completely different experience to painting landscapes – it’s a more direct way of working so I find myself caught up in trying to get a reasonable representation of the subject. I’m less concerned with intangibles like atmosphere or mood. The hens are dear to my heart however as we’ve had the pleasure of owning our own for several years. It’s also something that has had a bit of a revival around the country so I find that people generally react well to the finished paintings.

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