Monday, July 24, 2006

Fair or Fowl

All things fowl started when my grandmother gave me a painting of three chicks that her mother (my great grandmother, Sallie McNair Heidelberg) had painted. The three little chicks are hovering around what looks like an oyster shell. Two chicks are pecking at the meat in the shell, and the other chick is looking up as a shaft of light permeates the background. Artistically, it forms a nice triangle, starting with the light source and traveling around the three chicks. Triangles make for good composition in paintings.

Then one day I brought home two kitschy vintage roosters from an estate sale. Then another, and another. Pretty soon I had a whole chicken village. The most unusual piece in this chicken collection was a rooster lamp with a black/white polka dotted lampshade. I say 'was' because this lamp recently met an untimely death.

Within the first few months of the start of my painting (2004), I copied my great grandmother's Three Chicks as a Christmas gift to my parents.

Ever since, though, I've wanted to paint roosters or chickens or something similar of my own, not a copy. Living in the city naturally thwarts opportunities to be associated with real chickens, unless they are roasted or fried--yum. But on a recent trip to Jamaica, there were chickens everywhere. Over breakfast the last morning of our trip, I noticed the perfect rooster. I couldn't help but notice him. He was sassy, cocky, fussy, busy, noisy, everything a rooster should be. He dared me to paint his portrait.

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