Crazy Chicks at Poulet: A Poultry Panorama

Sketch of Crazy Ceramic Chickens 1 at Poulet, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

Crazy Chickens 1 at Poulet, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

The night we sketched at Poulet, a mostly chicken café in north Berkeley, I was feeling out of practice with drawing. So instead of trying to sketch the architecture or people I just drew their collection of chickens displayed on shelves, counters and walls.

Sketch of Crazy Ceramic Chickens 2 at Poulet, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

More Ceramic Chickens at Poulet, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

I didn’t bother with the shelves they sat on or perspective or anything serious…just allowed myself to be as playful as the silly chickens. That helped me get over my insecurity, warm up my hand and get back to sketching again after a brief spell of doing everything but art at the beginning of the year.

Poultry Panorama (2-page spread in my sketchbook).

Poultry Panorama (2-page spread in my sketchbook).

On our Urban Sketchers blog you can see Ceiny’s sketches of the café, starring some of the same chickens and Cathy’s sketches of the scene.

Barbara’s Chicks All Grown Up and Bye-Bye Tate the Bunny

Barbara's Chickens All Grown Up, ink & watercolor 7x5"

Barbara's Chickens All Grown Up, ink & watercolor 7x5"

The first time I got to sketch Barbara’s chickens they were these cute little chicks. Now they’re full-grown laying ladies and hilarious to watch as they run about with their tiny bird brains. Barbara has built the most amazing Chicken World for them in her yard, where they can run free and eat bugs and organic greens, safe from predators (raccoons are a big problem here), or snuggle in their cozy nesting house.

Gertie and the Bunny

Gertie the Dog and Tate the Bunny

The last time we sketched in her garden I sketched Gertie from the front. Here she is from the back. She is a wonderful, loving, and very furry pooch. Then I started trying to sketch the bunny Barbara was babysitting for her daughter. The bunny was so twitchy, didn’t hold still and so fluffy as to be seemingly amorphous. But I knew there were some basic shapes in there somewhere so I kept trying to find them.

In the sketch above I finally did find the basic shape of a bunny. In the first attempts below, not so much. (I love that phrase “not so much” even though I’m sure it’s become passé by now, along with “Really?”, “You think?”, “How’s that working for you?”  and “Meh.” Don’t know where those came from but I still like them for their sarcastic yet humorous tone.)

Bunny first attempts; completely at a loss

Bunny first attempts; completely at a loss

Above are the first attempts at the bunny, in which I became totally frustrated but didn’t give up. I’m glad I got to draw him since shortly after our sketch night he passed away from a recurrence of a serious illness he’d fought several times before. I hope he has found a home in bunny heaven as nice as the one he had with Barbara’s family.

Marin County Fair Sketches

Poultry Tent Medly, ink & watercolor 7x5

Poultry Tent Medley, ink & watercolor 7x5

When Cathy and I visited the Marin County Fair to sketch I was experimenting with sketching on pieces of paper instead of in my sketchbook as I wrote about here. Later I pasted the sketches into my journal. Above is a medley of chickens of various kinds along with one of the 4-H girls sitting at the “pet a chicken” table.

Boy with his chicken: matching hairstyles?

Boy with his chicken: matching hairstyles?

I asked this sweet boy if he intentionally styled his hair to match his chicken and he looked at me like I was nuts and said, “No.” The best part of the fair for me is seeing the kids who show their animals and win prizes for how well they present them.

Cow Parts

Cow Parts

I made numerous attempts to draw cows, trying to figure out their shapes, and finally sketched one I liked plus a few parts (head and butt). I had no idea their feet had two toes(?). Amazing what you don’t see when you don’t really look.

Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats

Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats

It got really hot so we went into the air-conditioned theater on the fair grounds to see the Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats perform. I tried sketching in the dark, adding color later. They were amazing. The sketch, not so much.

Hanging Teddy Prizes and Tilt-a-Whirl

Hanging Teddy Prizes and Tilt-a-Whirl

For the last sketch of the day we sketched from the midway. I sat on a ledge on the back of one of the game booths in the shade of the hanging teddy prizes. I cooled off a little more than I expected: I didn’t realize until it was too late that I was sitting in a puddle of water.

Cathy’s sketches of the day were fabulous (as always) and can be seen on our Urban Sketchers blog here.

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