Who’s Your Daddy? – Moleskine

First you saw her, earlier this week, drawn with the Derwent drawing pencils …. (scroll down)
Then you saw him, painted on watercolor paper ….
Now we’ve got them, in my Moleskine, using a more subdued palette of watercolors and a different, looser approach to the brushwork, given the slick nature of the Moleskine sketchbook paper. Are these details boring? I don’t know. I’ll mention it anyway because it’s part of what I’m discovering …
I started this sketch by squinting my eyes and looking for the darkest darks, which I indicated in the rough pencil drawing underneath. I painted the darkest areas first so that I could judge the other values accordingly. Usually I paint from light to dark, so this was a difference for me. Only after the hen and rooster were both finished did I decide about the color of the background (top) and the shadow below. I kept reminding myself to “think shapes” rather than to literally try to make it look like a shadow. I can honestly say that this is the first time that the “beading up” nature of the Moleskine paper worked to my advantage in creating that pebbly ground texture in the shade. Gotta remember that.

From this angle you can see his feathery legs, completely obscuring his feet. He’s not a Leghorn, what is he? It also occurs to me that I didn’t see anyone trying to pick up or pet the hens in the petting zoo. I’ll bet he would have pecked them if anyone had tried. The guy’s just doing his job.

The spread is 10″ x 8″ and so far I am keeping my resolution to paint every day.


  1. Cin
    January 13, 2006

    Karen, this whole series is so stunning, beautiful beautiful images!

  2. Karen
    January 13, 2006

    Thank you Cin, I am trying to work in depth on a few topics instead of flittering around like I usually do in all directions. I’m thinking that perhaps by concentrating in this way I can learn more and consolidate what I’m discovering.

    Last night, for example, it was really brought home to me how much the choice of medium dictates the style. There was no way that I could do smooth wet in wet washes on that Moleskine as I did on the previous rooster. From the first stroke I knew it and said …ok, plan B … how are you going to work with THIS paper?

    I suddenly found myself painting something in a very different “mood” because the paper insisted I be more impressionistic.

  3. Lisa Call
    January 13, 2006

    Karen, I’m really enjoying this series also. I love chickens and you have done them justice and more. Very inspiring.

  4. Lin
    January 13, 2006

    BEAUTIFUL, Karen — and again, the feathers look so soft. I read somewhere to judge the values darkest to lightest …. but I’m not sure this works everytime — I think your shadow is perfect!

  5. Kathleen Marie
    January 13, 2006

    Karen, I like the misty watercolor look you’ve achieved here… it’s very nice!

  6. Nita
    January 13, 2006

    I’ve made friends with the M paper and actually have come to like the option that the beading provides. You used it wonderfully in this piece.

  7. TeriC
    January 13, 2006

    I am loving these series Karen. You never cease to amaze me with your creativity.

  8. Jane
    January 13, 2006

    I think those are cochins: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochin_%28chicken%29
    Sad thing, I raised chickens as a youngster. Not those kind, mostly “normal” ones, but had to know some others in order to fulfill the 4-H program requirements.

  9. Julie Durocher
    January 13, 2006

    I really love how this turned out. Thanks for the tips with the watercolor in the moleskine. It was perfect for this sketch. Wonderful job.

  10. Terri
    January 13, 2006

    Karen this one is frame worthy. I love it. And thankyou for writing about the process too. I think you did some excellent work creating texture on the ground and their feathers look very realistic. :o)

  11. Nancy
    January 13, 2006

    I think this whole series contains some of the best work of yours that I’ve seen. Going deeper is clearly a very good way to go.

  12. Roma
    January 13, 2006

    Karen, your work is stunning, absolutely stunning. Hearing all the details is far from boring. Being a novice, I appreciate it very much, and actually find it fascinating.

  13. Karen
    January 13, 2006

    Jane, I think you’re right about the breed. He looked like the picture of the Cochin.

    Thank you everyone, I’m glad that you’re enjoying the series and that the “behind the scenes” comments are interesting. I have an inclination to continue with some ink drawings and maybe one in graphite before I’m done with this topic. Sunday they may have the zoo set up again and perhaps I’ll pay the chicks another visit.

  14. Laurie
    January 14, 2006

    Karen, I do not think the details are boring – in fact, I find the whole process that you have gone through interesting and glad that you post the details! These are all wonderful and I especially like the little girl at the petting zoo your earlier post.

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