Saturday, August 25, 2007

Don't Wake the Rooster

If you’re going to sketch an animal, it had better be either sleeping or hypnotized.

I went to the chicken house yesterday at the Dutchess County Fair looking for a sleeping rooster. I’ll need some practice painting feathers if I’m going to make those feathered dinosaurs look right.

The chicken house has long rows of cages stacked on top of each other. The air smells like guano, and most of the birds are preening and fussing or crowing like maniacs. But there’s this one gorgeous Buff Japanese Cock blissfully asleep. I get right to work.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a kid come in the door holding a giant inflatable blue dolphin that he won at the midway. He’s whacking all the cages one by one, saying “Look at ‘em jump!”

“Please don’t,” I beg helplessly as the kid gets closer. My little rooster rouses and hops up in alarm. The kid moves on, snorting with laughter.

Fortunately a 4-H kid comes up to me and says “Don’t worry, mister, I can hypnotize him.” He opens the cage and says, “He belongs to my sister, and here’s what she does.” With that he cradles the rooster, rubs him under the chin for a while, and puts him back. The little rooster stands stock-still in a philosopical daze for another seven or eight minutes, long enough for me to work up a little watercolor study.


Claire said...

I couldn't agree more with this post- I simultaneously adore and despise trips to the zoo. They often involve sketches that consist of three lines in the vague shape of a gerenuk who decided, right at that moment, to walk somewhere else.


K_tigress said...

Chickens are so cool. I use to have a few when I was little. I use to imitate many of there calls have fun watching there reactions.

Unknown said...

I love the stories you have around the illustrations! With the man you turned into a chicken and this one. A few more chicken stories and there might be material for a separate book of chicken studies!