Just Wondering…About Those Pomegranates

About Those Pomegranates

After reading my last post about chickens eating pomegranates, you may want to ask, “Do you seriously buy pomegranates for your chickens? Do you realize how expensive they are?”

Well, “Yes” and “Yes,” but I really should qualify that first one.

Last fall when pomegranates showed up in stores, I bought then to draw, not to feed to my chickens. It was really a bonus for the chickens when I learned pomegranates where fine for them to eat. (Not all things are.)

At the time I was working through a few drawing challenges I made up for myself involving composition. If I have any areas where “money is no object,” those would have to be first books and second anything interesting to draw.

One of my favorite almost unknown artists is Takashi Shuji from Japan. His pastel drawings are absolutely fascinating. He has never had any formal art training and therefore follows a set of internal compositional rules for what feels “right” to him. Takashi was born with Down’s syndrome.

About Those Pomegranates
Pastel Drawing by Takashi Shuji (with antique brown filter applied)
Pastel Drawing by Takashi Shuji (with antique brown filter applied)

A characteristic of his drawing style is how objects often touch each other or touch the edges of the paper. This makes them fit together perfectly as if there is no other way for them to be on the page. Objects seldom, if ever, overlap to help create depth the way we are taught to do in Western art.

Noticing this “rule” in his style of drawing, I tried doing this in a series of my own drawings of pomegranates…sometimes laid out in rows, as Takashi Shuji might have done…sometimes arranged in a classical Western art composition, but always with edges touching.

What surprised me from this experiment was how making all of the edges touch did not appear as a terrible compositional error. Even with Western art treatment of three-dimensional modeling, this artistic “faux pas” did not stand out as a catastrophe. Perhaps sometimes it is possible to break the rules of tradition?

Below are several of my own graphite drawings. Because these are two different mediums (his colorful pastels, my monochromatic graphite pencils), the same photo filter and matting effect have been used on all drawings (his and mine) for comparison purposes.

One Pomegranate, graphite drawing by the author (with antique brown filter applied)
Two Pomegranates, graphite drawing by the author (with antique brown filter applied)
Three Pomegranates, graphite drawing by the author (with antique brown filter applied)

As far as the chickens and Pomegranates are concerned, they get them only after I’m through drawing them! And of course, I have to draw them whole, cut in half, cut into quarters, pulled apart, and any other way I can imagine.

Even if you don’t own any chickens, you may enjoy drawing pomegranates. The challenge they present has to do with proper shading. Although they have an overall spherical shape (like an apple), they have slightly flattened faceted areas (unlike an apple) which hint at the sections inside the fruit. Balancing these two, I believe, is the key to successfully drawing pomegranates regardless of the compositional approach you select.

My Life With Gracie…Gleaning Wisdom

Gleaning Wisdom

This illustration is based on my fourth “My Life With Gracie” drawing. It is still one of my favorites because it is the first one of Gracie dancing. You can see this illustration has a lot more happening!

Pomegranate seeds are a treat my chickens enjoy in autumn. These are never passed up, and that is what made me wonder if there was something wrong.

For a few weeks, I’ve noticed leftover corn kernels or fruit pieces in their run at the end of the day when I went to secure them in their coop for the night. I had just assumed they were given too much, more than they could eat. But the leftovers were gone in the morning.

This was a bit of a mystery, but I really didn’t give it much thought until the leftovers included some of their prized pomegranate seeds. What was going on?

So as I was making sure everyone was snugly in their coop for the night, I questioned Gracie about this. At first she seemed a bit embarrassed as they all looked at each other, unsure what to say.

Finally Gracie explained it had been her idea for them to leave food behind for the field mice who visit them at night. With all of the rain we have had, it was more difficult for them to gather food for themselves and their little ones.

So I quickly told them not to worry because they had been doing a wonderful kindness.

All looked quite relieved, and moved a bit closer to me when I said, “You know, that sounds like something The Rose Garden Princess would do.”

And just like that, we were all wrapped up in Gracie’s dream.

(For those of you who are new readers, Gracie wants to be a ballerina more than just about anything, and “The Rose Garden Princess” is a ballet project we are creating for her.)

Yes, kindness to strangers and wanderers is an ancient tradition of the Princesses who live in The Great Garden. (Feather’s rustled happily because they all could be princesses for the ballet.)

“Remember when you had no home of your own” is ancient chicken wisdom once heard long ago and passed down from momma hens to chicks. (Suddenly there were disappointed expressions on every face. But why? Then I realized they remembered never having a momma hen to teach them anything.)

I paused the story to let them know how proud I was of them for knowing this on their own without the guidance of a momma hen. They were all truly wise chickens indeed. (Everyone smiled and sat a bit taller. They were definitely feeling their parts in the ballet.)

And so one autumn evening the hungry field mice scampered into The Great Garden and began to jump and run about, grabbing scraps of food that the Princesses had not eaten. The Princesses were startled and became frantic because their peaceful garden home was being overrun by mice. (Together they pretended to be surprised in the most adorable way.)

Although much smaller, the field mice moved much faster and could hide in the tiniest and most unexpected places. More than either of those things, they were scary because they were different. They didn’t have beaks and wings. Instead they had sharp teeth and grabbing hands! (Serious shivers spread from one chicken to another, and Emily hid her head under her wing. Pearl hid her head under Blanche’s wing.)

But do you know what The Rose Garden Princess did? (Everyone leaned forward to hear better. Gracie moved closest of all, even though she started to feel a draft where her fluff feathers had molted.)

The Rose Garden Princess made promises with the field mice. They could come each evening to collect food left for them. In return the field mice would use their teeth to cut flowers from the garden and hold them as banners when The Rose Garden Princess and the other Princesses danced in the moonlight. (Joyful wings applauded along the perch at this delightful turn of events!)

Although it took a great deal of practice, what a grand and amazing dance it was! Some of the smallest field mice entered first, scampering and leaping in unison. They were joined by more field mice who carried flowers like banners. Then the Princesses began to dance onto the stage.

It all made for a great and dramatic spectacle, unfolding in The Great Garden as more and more mice and more and more Princesses joined in the procession. Mice carrying daisies, and then the Daisy Princesses. Mice carrying daffodils, and then the Daffodil Princesses. On and on it went, and each seemed more beautiful than the last.

Finally when everyone was certain there was no way for the dance to be any more breathtaking, The Rose Garden Princess appeared! (My chickens could not hold back their enthusiasm any longer. The sounds of their delight filled my little backyard garden.)

We all said “good night,” and they huddled closer together for warmth. It was going to be a chilly night, but not in our hearts.

There were a few still-excited whispers about who would dance as Daisy Princesses and who would dance as Daffodil Princesses and so on. Everyone was unanimous only Gracie could be The Rose Garden Princess as she had already led them in showing unselfish kindness towards others.

My Life With Gracie taught me always to have a generous and welcoming heart.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Right now I am revisiting some of my earlier cartoon illustrations and giving them a different twist.

Gleaning Wisdom

My Life With Gracie…About Diving In!

About Diving In!

This illustration is based on my third “My Life With Gracie” drawing. It is still one of my favorites because it reminds me of the joy of having a baby chick standing on top of my foot for the first time, but here I’ve added the joy of watching them explore the world for the first time.

From his first day out of his shell, Lefty believed that the world was made just for him. He loved to explore, and he didn’t want to miss a thing. He always tried to be everywhere at once, and almost succeeded too!

As a chick, he was at his top exploring speed non-stop throughout the day! Eventually he would wear himself out and just do a “splat”! He would flop down wherever he was with his wings and legs spread out and just instantly fall asleep.

Once his nap was over, he was up and moving full-speed again. He didn’t want to miss anything!

He was first to try whatever was new or different. Where others might hop up on top of my shoe to warily check out something, Lefty would hop up and use my shoe as a jumping off spot to dive right into it!

I miss that little guy, but I’m glad he is on a nice farm where he can crow and cock-a-doodle-do as much as he wants. I’m sure he has explored every possible inch of his new home too!

Lefty would always run as fast as he could back and forth along the fencing of the run with one foot on the fencing support and one foot on the ground.

To me, it would make more sense to have both feet running on the ground to move more smoothly and quickly rather than the clunky, uneven hobbling up-and-down, up-and-down movement. Then again, I’m not thinking like a chicken.

Soon after he moved out, Bessie took over his leadership role. It was an amazing transformation. She remembered how he ran along the run, keeping watch, exploring constantly, and so Bessie started doing the same things, even imitating his clunky up-and-down way of running next to the fence. I had to tell Bessie, just like I had told Lefty, “Slow down before you hurt yourself!” Neither of them ever listened to me.

But when you are excited and curious and hyper-alert, does it really make much of a difference? Where I might be concerned about looking silly or awkward or failing, chickens truly don’t seem to care. They don’t want to miss a thing!

So what is holding any of us back? And why even waste time bothering to answer that question? (Or that question!) Right now we could be exploring what we might never have another opportunity to experience. What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe we wear ourselves out and have to take a “splat” nap!

Dive in! Find out what’s at the bottom of that pile of leaves! Hey! Maybe I really am thinking like a chicken after all! The whole fullness of the world is waiting to be explored!

My Life With Gracie encouraged me to dive right in more often!

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Right now I am revisiting some of my earlier cartoon illustrations and giving them a different twist. This one is inspired by all of you who don’t ever want to miss out on anything! (You know who you are!)

About Diving In!