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Chicken Portraits: Feathered Friends Forever

Chickens, often seen merely as farm animals, are fast becoming beloved pets. Whether you have a few or a whole brood, they each have their distinct personalities.

Just like any other pet, chickens can bring a whole lot of joy into your life. My sister is always telling tales of the antics her’s get up to. It might sound cliche, but there is a distinct pecking order within the coop.

She keeps the “girls” not just as egg layers, but as companions, and they have a surprisingly affectionate nature. The emotional bond that my sister shares with them is as real and deep as she has with her two lurcher dogs.

hen in coloured pencilsSophia Lor-hen, a chicken who lives in Italy.

Although you can never have a favourite child, you can certainly have a favourite hen. Perhaps one with a penchant for following you around the garden like a shadow, or for leaning against your leg as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

It's these quirky behaviours and individual traits that make each chicken special, and it's exactly what I aim to capture in my coloured pencil portraits.

Drawing chickens in colored pencils allows me to bring out the unique character and charm of these feathered friends.

The process starts with an email conversation to understand why the particular bird is special. Does she (or he) have a name? This is where we lay the foundation for a portrait that is as much a celebration of character as it is a representation of appearance.

Tips for Taking Your Photos

Great artwork begins with a great reference. I'll ask you to provide several high-resolution photos of your chicken.

Capturing the perfect shot of your chickens for a portrait reference can be a bit tricky.

  • Lighting is Key. The best photos are taken in natural light. Aim for the golden hours—just after sunrise or before sunset—when the light is soft and warm. It'll give your chickens a beautiful glow and won't cast harsh shadows
  • Get down to their level. Squat or sit so you can capture your chickens from their eye level. This perspective makes the photograph more personal and engaging, which is just what you want for a portrait.
  • Stability Matters. Use a tripod or rest your camera on a stable surface if possible. Chickens can be unexpectedly quick, and you don’t want a blurry shot because of camera shake.
  • Patience is a Virtue. Chickens aren't known for their posing skills, so take your time. Observe and wait for that moment when they are relatively still or exhibiting interesting behavior.
  • Use the Right Lens. If you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera, a lens with a focal length of 50mm to 85mm can give you a nice, natural look without distortion.
  • Focus on the Eye(s). Make sure the chicken’s eyes are in sharp focus to give life to your portrait.
  • Capture Their Personality. Every chicken has its quirks. Snap photos that show off their unique traits, whether it's a curious tilt of the head or a proud strut.
  • Keep the Background Simple. A cluttered background can be distracting. Try to find a spot where the background is plain or distant enough to blur out, so your chicken is the star of the show.
  • Take Lots of Photos. The more photos you take, the better your chances of getting that perfect shot. Digital photos don’t cost anything, so click away!

Remember, the goal is to have a reference photo that captures the essence and individuality of your chicken. Once you've nailed that, your portrait is bound to be a success.

rooster in the wildRooster found in the wild at Fowlmere near Cambridge, UK. Someone had dumped him!

Photo Selection and Colour Matching

We'll go through these together to choose the best one that captures the essence of your chicken's personality. Lighting, pose, and detail are key here.

But most important is that the photo is sharp and not blurry. I need to be able to see the details of your chicken's feathers, the gleam in its eye, and any unique markings that set it apart from the brood.

Chickens come in a stunning array of colors, and I want to ensure that I replicate those hues accurately.

Photos taken in natural light, without any filters applied, will give me the best understanding of their true shades and textures. If I am unsure, I might ask for additional photos to better understand the unique coloration of your chicken.

Progress Updates and Final Approval

coloured pencil hen in progressChicken portrait in progress

Throughout the drawing process, I'll send you progress shots. This is not only exciting, but it also allows you to give feedback in real-time. If there's a particular detail or shade that doesn't quite match what you see in your chicken, this is the perfect time to let me know.

Before I add the finishing touches, you'll get a preview of the nearly completed portrait. This is the stage for any last-minute tweaks or adjustments, ensuring you're completely satisfied with the representation of your chicken.

Depending on the size of your portrait, I like to allow up to 3 months from the time I begin drawing until completion.

When you place your order I will advise you of the commission queue, and how far in advance you would need to book if the portrait is required for a special date.Delivery and Unveiling

Whether it's a digital reveal or a physical unboxing, I make sure the unveiling of your chicken's portrait is a memorable event. I often encourage customers to share their reactions, whether that's through a video or a written testimonial. Your excitement and satisfaction are what make my job truly rewarding.

Follow-Up

After you've received your portrait, I'll check in to make sure it's found the perfect spot in your home and that you're still as in love with it as the day you saw it first. It's also an opportunity for you to share any thoughts or to discuss potential future projects.

I believe that art is collaborative, and when it comes to capturing the character of your cherished chicken, your input is invaluable. By working together, we can ensure that the end result is a beautiful, bespoke portrait that you'll treasure for years to come.

Caring for Your Portrait

When it comes to framing and caring for your portraits, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind to preserve their beauty and longevity.

One of the most important factors is understanding the lightfastness of the pencils I use in the creation of the artwork. Lightfastness refers to the resistance of colored pigments to fading when exposed to light. The higher the lightfastness rating, the less likely the colors are to fade over time.

I use top quality artist grade pencils from Faber Castell and Caran d’Ache, along with certain colours from oher top brands. They have excellent lightfastness ratings. That's great news because it means the colors are designed to be more stable and lasting.

But, here's where my practical advice kicks in: despite the quality of the pencils, it's still wise to hang the portrait out of direct sunlight. Sunlight, particularly its ultraviolet (UV) component, is incredibly potent and can cause even the most resilient of pigments to fade with prolonged exposure.

So here's what I suggest: choose a spot on your wall that's away from direct sunlight. This could be an area that's shaded for most of the day or a wall that gets indirect light. This simple step can significantly extend the life of your portrait.

Framing

If you happen to live local to me in the UK, I love to schedule a hand delivery. This way I can take care of the framing for you if you would like me to do so.

However, most portraits have to be mailed to my customers, especially if they live in another country. Therefore, I have added some recommendations for framing below.

I recommend using a frame with UV-protective glass or acrylic. This will offer an additional layer of defense against light damage. It's a little investment that goes a long way in preserving your artwork.

Additionally, make sure the portrait is securely mounted in the frame to prevent any warping or slipping, and consider using acid-free mats to further protect the artwork from any potential deterioration caused by acidic materials.

Remember, even if the pencils are top-notch and boast impressive lightfastness, the mantra "better safe than sorry" still applies.

By taking these precautionary steps, you'll ensure that your portrait remains as vibrant and detailed as the day it was completed, allowing you and others to enjoy it for many years to come.

The joys of owning custom artwork

Owning a piece of art that depicts a beloved pet isn't just a matter of aesthetic pleasure; it's a deeply emotional and personal experience that can significantly enhance the emotional well-being of the owner.

Let me share a bit about how this works from my perspective.

Firstly, the presence of a chicken portrait in your living space serves as a constant reminder of the joy and companionship that our feathered friends provide.

It's a visual representation of love and the bond we share with them. Even on tough days, when the world outside feels overwhelming, a glance at this piece of art can serve as a comforting presence, reminding us of the unwavering affection and quirky antics that lighten our lives.

The process of commissioning art also offers a unique form of emotional engagement.

Collaborating with an artist to create a portrayal of your pet involves conveying your special bond and the distinct personality of your pet, which can be a profoundly reflective and fulfilling experience.

You're not merely acquiring a piece of art; you're actively participating in the creation of a tribute that speaks to your heart.

And let's not overlook the sheer beauty and uniqueness of a custom piece of art.

Unlike mass-produced decor, a bespoke pet portrait is a one-of-a-kind piece that adds a personal touch to your home. It's a conversation starter, a focal point that draws attention and admiration from visitors, affirming the special place your pet holds in your life.

Commissioning your Chicken Portrait

If you're thinking about diving into this exciting journey with me, reaching out is super easy.

The best way to connect is through the Portrait Enquiry Form right here on the website. It's a straightforward way for us to start our conversation, and it ensures that I get all the information I need to understand your needs and preferences from the get-go.

Please check out my pricing page which also shows the size options and include your choice in one of the boxes on the form. If you decide to go ahead I will ask for a part payment in advance. This can be processed through PayPal or by internet transfer into my bank.

When you fill out the contact form, it would be incredibly helpful if you could fill in all the boxes, and also provide the name of your chicken.

I may be mad, but I tend to talk to the animals or birds in my portraits as I go along. As I enter my studio I call out a cheery “Good Morning Gertrude!” before settling down to draw. Hey artists can be quirky as well as chickens!

So go ahead, drop me a line through the contact form. I'm eager to connect and will be in touch with the details you need to know, including when we can start our adventure together. Let’s make something awesome happen!


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