Summer Chicken Sketch Out with Metro Sketchers

August 18, 2017

Earlier this summer a local Minneapolis couple who keep chickens invited Metro Sketchers over to their home—they have 6 chickens! Sketchers filled the yard on fold out and lawn chairs while the chickens weaved in and about nibbling on cracked corn sprinkled on the grass.

One chicken decided that my wash water (which didn’t have any paint in it yet) was at just her height for easy to reach drinking water. She sat at my ankles and took long drinks, looking up between gulps to check me out. I think we were both smitten. I couldn’t shoo her away. I probably lost a good 20 minutes of sketch time until I put a bit of board over my water and watched her retreat in bewilderment. She was quickly cheered by all the cracked corn.

In the 2 hours and 10 minutes that I actually worked (there was a period of time at the end of the session when I simply talked with everyone who came up to me and gave up trying to finish more sketches) I got 12 loose pages done. The first 7 pages were never scanned because this was when my scanner wasn’t scanning in focus. At some point you just have to move on.

But I’ve put a couple of the image together for you to flip through them.

I worked on Stonehenge Kraft Brown paper for my warm ups (none scanned) and tried working with color pencil and then gouache on top of that. It was fun. I then moved on to Strathmore 400 Series Toned Mixed Media Paper in the gray. I began on sketch 8 with a red color pencil, but didn’t like it on the gray paper so I skipped right to the brush pen and then worked only in brush pen and gouache for the rest of the day.

All of the chickens had lost their head plumage so the proportions do look rather off. This is just a clear indication of how small birds are when the feathers aren’t in play.

This is always such a great way to warm up for the Minnesota State Fair. If you’re in the Twin Cities when Metro Sketchers does this event next time you need to come along.

Don’t forget the Ninth Great Minnesota State Fair Sketch Together is coming next week!!!!

I’m testing out a new gallery plug-in today and in preview it doesn’t seem to be working quite like I had hoped. In theory you should see one image below and click on it and then you’ll be in a gallery with captions and you can move from one image to the next by hitting on the side arrows. We’ll give it a go…like so much in life this is a work in progress. If you click on the gallery and end up with a black background go to the top right and click on the right x and it should come up as a white background and down below you should see an info button and some other buttons, even a comment button. In theory. None of my captions are showing up, but play around and see if it works for you.


Image 1 of 4

  1. Reply

    Worked for me, except little thumbnails appeared bottom left, clicking on the thumbnail changed the photo, clicking on the arrow just rolled the current photo on and off the screen (like it was doing something but it really wasn’t)… Great sketches of the chickens, really colorful birds (were they actually that colorful or was this your artistic license in play?).

    1. Reply

      Thanks Elaine, something is definitely not working right, everyone is getting a different view and none of them are the correct one. Sigh.

      Thanks for the comment about the chicken sketches. Were they really that colorful? I thought they were on the day, but I was sitting in the sun (though it wasn’t horribly hot) and I was fighting with my eyes not working and focusing so things were more blurred, and I was definitely simplifying because they were moving fast!!!

      I brought about 6 different reds but only 2 yellows so some of the yellow might be too yellow? But No, I’m going to go with they were really that colorful. It’s a breed I haven’t sketched before. There was a Buffington also but I didn’t sketch that one after my initial sketches (which didn’t get scanned because of the scanner issues) because it was buff on tan paper! A beautiful chicken but not eye popping.

      Also color really pops on this gray paper!!!

  2. Reply

    I normally read your posts in feedlot, and the images didn’t show there at all. The browser on my phone let me click through them, but it reloaded the page and I had to scroll down to the image each time. No captions.

    That said, thanks for posting!

    1. Reply

      Feedly, not feedlot. Stupid autocorrect.

    2. Reply

      Caitlyn, that’s good to know about Feedly (I knew what you meant, I hate autocorrect!) I appreciate hearing this.

    • Frank Bettendorf
    • August 18, 2017

    Great sketches. Got 4 colorful sketches in the bottom left corner and enjoyed them. No buttons, no place to comment. Everything can’t be perfect, as we have learned over and over! Have a great weekend.
    Frank B

    1. Reply

      So you got the regular post gallery set up instead of the other one. As you say everything can’t be perfect, but I’m going to go back to the instructions and see if I can get something in a future post to work better. Thanks for the feedback Frank!

    • Dana Burrell
    • August 18, 2017

    It worked just as you said it would. I love how the colors just POP against that toned paper… and seeing those yummy fibers in the paper has gotten me curious . I’ll have to go back though your posts to see what book/paper you’re working in… not that I “need” another sketchbook.

    The Hopkinton State Fair (New Hampshire) starts 2 weeks from today… yippee!!!

    1. Reply

      Thanks for the feedback Dana, for others it didn’t work the right way. I’m going to add it to the list of things to have the web guy who’s helping me look at.

      And yep, I’m just using Strathmore 400 Series Toned Mixed Media SHEETS for these sketches. I haven’t tried to fold it and make a book out of it. I don’t know if they are going to release it in sheets! I don’t like to bind paper from a pad. The grain direction is always so inconvenient for final sizes I like.

      I’m so excited that you’re going to the Hopkinson State Fair and can’t wait to see your sketches!! I am probably only going to get to go three times to our Fair this year, but I feel very fortunate. Our Fair starts on THURSDAY!!! Soon I’ll smell the hay and animals on my bike ride in the morning.

    • Dana Burrell
    • August 18, 2017

    Why did I say that??? You SAID it was Strathmore 400 Toned Gray.
    Sorry… I should go to bed.

  3. Reply

    Best chickens ever. Absolutely love them! Something about painting them is so much fun, right?

    1. Reply

      So glad you enjoyed these. Yes it is fun to sketch chickens. They are inquisitive and more clever and intelligent then many think. I always enjoy it so much.

  4. Reply

    I LOVE chickens! These are wonderful. I usually use watercolor, but your work has made me decide to break out the gouache.

    1. Reply

      Go for it Leslie!!!!!

    • kate
    • August 31, 2017

    i love the colors, especially the first bird. they seem very vibrant to my eye.

    i did get the gallery but no captions.

    1. Reply

      I’m hoping to find out more about how I’m not using the gallery right in the next couple of weeks. Thanks for the feedback. It’s helpful because I only see what I see on my computer.

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