'The frizzle chicken is a delightful and unusual rare breed, made up of feathers that face vertically instead of lying flat as seen in most chicken varieties,' says Wendy Jelbert. 'It resembles a very bad hair day and is an exciting subject on which to practise the loosening up exercises I discussed over the past couple of months. To add even more visual interest to the demonstration painting – and give you more practise – I also included a silkie variety to paint. The entire farmyard, which led into a flower patch of my friend’s farm, was a lively buzz of these adorable birds. I just had to take out my paints'.

Demonstration: Farmyard Chickens

Step 1

1. Sketch the suggestion of the garden, with the foreground bird and the distant chicken.

2. Apply a little masking fluid where the light areas may be of help later on. Allow some of the areas to stay free of lines to allow the paint to move freely about.


Step 2

1. Wet the paper’s surface and drop bright yellow over the neck area and ochre over the face. Allow the colours to merge into the body and feet.

2. Add Hooker’s green to the background between the birds, emphasising the negative shape between them

Step 3

1. Quickly lift out the wattle area and add a bright red spot. Allow it to merge over the face into the background. Do let this vital seeping of the colours happen.

2. Paint deep violet over the body and add more ochre to the neck.

Step 4

Keeping the surface wet, accentuate the body shape with deep violet and a weaker wash added to the silkie’s body to give it definition. Tint the tail area with cerulean blue and add an accent of burnt sienna to the base of the neck and background pot behind the white chicken shape.

Step 5

Using a wetted tissue, soften and alter the chicken’s shape to a more rounded and satisfactory feature. Strengthen the tail and colour the pots using burnt sienna and white gouache.

Step 6

1. Whilst still wet, use alizarin crimson to define the wattle and eye areas. Darken the sides of the body using violet and sienna, and add Winsor blue to the lower body.

2. Roughly place more flower pot colours and splatter the foreground using burnt sienna, violet and blues; allow to soften in the wetter places.

3. Place cerulean blue under the chickens in the shadowed areas.

Step 7

1. If the paper begins to dry, rewash very carefully. The paper needs to be thoroughly dry before rewashing or you will create unsightly watermarks in your work.

2. Redefine the pots with a combination of sienna and violet, and darken the tail a little with Winsor blue. As you proceed, try to leave something for the imagination to work on in your painting.

Step 8

1. Rub off the masking fluid to expose the white flashes needed for the mad feathers. I washed over these with ochres and blues, allowing them to fade into the chicken’s feathers slightly.

2. Splatter more pebbles and place autumn leaves to echo the colours of the bird into the foreground.

Step 9

The finished painting

Farmyard Chickens, watercolour, (30.5x40.5cm)

Highlight the background against the hen’s shape using small accents and flicks of white gouache and the original masking fluid applications.

Define the legs and feet, and add details of the silkie hen and deeper accents to the flowerpots.


Wendy writes regularly for Leisure Painter

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Details of Wendy’s courses and exhibitions are on her website www.wendyjelbert.co.uk