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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Black and brown hen

Black & brown hen © Peter Gander
As both chicken-owners and parents, we’ve learnt the hard way that it’s not worth giving our egg-laying friends individual pet names, thus the rather prosaic title of this post. We started off with six hens a few years ago and a flurry of cute names, but the odd disease or wily fox has claimed a few and with it, the novelty of the birds with the children has diminished too, so ‘black and brown hen’ it is. This particular hen is a black-rock, a dark-brown egg laying hybrid. Black-rocks are a true first-cross hybrid from selected American strains of Rhode Island Red (male line) and a Barred Plymouth Rock (female line). They are lovely, densely-feathered birds with a big body frame. The health of a bird is often reflected in the strength of colour in their ‘comb’, (the headpiece), which in her case is a very strong red, so we know she’s healthy and happy. Our birds are essentially free-range - we let them out of their hutch and pen area in the morning and lock them up at night, due to the fox threat.  
In-progress with my huge (size 20) brush
If you like a bold painting, use a bold brush. A big brush. Detail is not my bag as I enjoy a more gestural style and a size 20 mop was the only brush I used here, (its fine point small enough if the odd delicate mark needs to be made however, such as the pupil of the hen’s eye). The Russian blue squirrel-hair mop holds bath-loads of water and is a particular favourite of mine, but be warned, it is as expensive as it is exotic!
Size 20 Pro Arte Renaissance squirrel mop brush with Winsor & Newton watercolour on Bockingford 190gsm Rough paper.

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