Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp (Part 3)

Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp

This post is a continuation of a little series which may become part of a book about Amelia’s trip to the moon and back. If you are not a regular reader, you may want to read the most recent post about Emily’s Summer Drawing Camp first. It will help explain the ending to this post.

Emily had been enjoying her chalks and pastels for long enough to cover the front of my refrigerator with artwork. It seemed like a perfect day to try something new.

“Would you like this little travel-size watercolor set?” I asked.

“What does it do?”

“Well, I thought you might like to try making some pictures with it, paintings really.”

“Are paintings better than drawings?”

“That is a question people still haven’t figured out yet. But if you ask me, a painting is a lot like a drawing except it is wet at first. But some drawings, like ink drawings, start out wet too. The best thing about painting is you can make a big colorful shape all at once.”

“Don’t I have to travel to use it? I don’t think I can fly and carry that all at the same time even though it is small.”

“It’s only called that name because when artists travel away from home sometimes they like to take a little set of paints and a brush with them. But they can use it at home too.”

“Those colors are pretty and brighter than chalk. Do I pick them up like chalk?”

“They have pigment in them like the chalk, and a very weak kind of glue. You add some water with the paintbrush to loosen up the pigment and glue, and then you have paint.”

Emily couldn’t quite imagine how this would all work. She looked as if she was going to tell me she’d rather just stay with her chalk drawings, but I wanted her to at least try.

“By the way, Emily, did you know that many years ago some artists started using the clear part inside eggs as a stronger kind of glue when they mixed their paint colors. The clear part of the egg made the paint last a really long time and kept the colors extra beautiful.”

“You are serious about that?”

“Absolutely serious. It’s called egg tempera, and some artists still use it. The paintings are small because they take so much time to make, but they are worth it because they are small and as beautiful as jewels, just like you.”

Emily had exhausted all of the questions she could come up with, and so there was nothing left to do except make a decision. Chickens can be hesitant about trying new things, even new food.

“I want to see how this paint works. I will give it a try.”

“I’m so glad.”

“But I’m not giving up any eggs for this.”

“And I wouldn’t ask you to either. You will just need a dish of water. It wouldn’t be good to use everyone’s drinking dish. Nobody wants funny-colored water to drink.”

I was eager to see how her watercolor painting would turn out. The travel-sized box had a shorter paintbrush that fit nicely in her beak. I showed her how to use it to get water and turn the cakes of pigment into paint. In no time, she was ready to start.

From the very beginning, Emily developed her own painting style. She enjoyed being able to use her whole body, especially her wings, when she painted.

Flying and painting worked well together for her. She would load her brush with paint and then touch straight down to make round yellow shapes for flower centers. She would touch at an angle to make white oblong shapes for flower petals. She would touch down then drag and lift up to make green shapes with two pointed ends for flower leaves.

None of her shapes were exactly the same which made every flower unique, just as in nature. A few times drops of paint went where they weren’t supposed to go, but she was able to turn the drips into more flowers. All in all, her first watercolor painting was quite a success.

When she was finished she put down her brush and looked up at me. She was delighted to see the approval on my face.

“Nicely done,” I said. “And I know what you are going to say next.” It was why she had asked if painting was better than drawing.

“I want to paint Amelia.”

“Then we will work on that tomorrow. You will need even bigger shapes than what you made today. Let me show you, and then you can imagine how you will do it for tomorrow’s lesson.”

I opened the paint box all of the way so that the lid laid flat. Emily had been so eager to start, she hadn’t noticed this. She liked how the two sections there could be used to make a larger amount of paint.

Emily watched carefully as I mixed a special color and outlined a large round shape with watercolor and then filled it in with more paint.

Then once that was dry, I mixed another special color and added more smaller round shapes on top of the larger round shape.

“That is the moon! That is where Amelia is going!”

“That’s right.”

“So is painting like drawing?”

“What do you mean, Emily?”

“Does it also let you do things you would never be able to do any other way?”

“We will find out tomorrow, won’t we?”

“Yes. Yes, we will.”

My Life With Gracie taught me you never know what you can do until you try.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

True Iridescence

True Iridescence

“Why do you always draw me small? Like I’m still a just-hatched chick?” asked Emily as she peered over my sketch pad.

I thought about this for a moment because I wasn’t completely sure how to answer.

“I draw everyone as a just-hatched chick sometimes, even Gracie.”

“Yes, I know, but you’ve never drawn me as a grown-up hen with my comb and wattles and everything.”

“That’s true.”

“So?”

Emily is seldom persistent like this. She only gets this way when it’s something really important like when everyone else isn’t giving her space to eat breakfast salad or mealworms. It is not always easy for her because she is the smallest.

“Maybe part of the reason is I never really saw you growing up every day like the others. I used to visit you and Amelia when you were little. You probably don’t remember because the world was so new to you then, but I did.

“There were twenty-four of you in that huge brooder box and playpen. There was so much going on all of the time. It was tough to keep track of who was who, except for Amelia. She liked to fly up to the top of the play pen and walk around.”

“Yes, I remember. There were a lot of us. But I didn’t stand out from the others did I? Not the way Amelia did?”

Her heart would have loved for me to say I had picked her out right from the beginning as a very special baby chick, but I had to be truthful.

“What matters is how you stand out now. Even with people, it’s not easy to see who is special in a crowd. It takes time and time together.”

“So it’s not because I’m smaller than all of the others?”

“No, not at all.”

“Is there anything else?”

“Well, when I draw you so young, it helps me imagine you as if you had always lived here with me from your very first day. Sometimes I wish you and Amelia had been here with me from the beginning.

“But if you had been here with me from the beginning, I would not have been able to choose you. I like how I was able to choose you because of who you are rather than who you might become after you got here.”

She seemed pleased with all of this and turned to look for sunflower kernels.

“And Emily, to be totally honest, I’m not sure I can draw your grown-up hen feathers as beautifully as they truly need to be drawn. I don’t know how to draw iridescence, and everything about you is iridescent.”

She stood a little taller and poked out her breast a little farther. “You always know exactly what to say.”

“I just speak from my heart, Emily, and my heart adores everything about you.”

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me the biggest hearts are often covered with iridescent feathers.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Family Photo Friday!

Family Photo Friday

Hold onto your hearts! This week’s photo is one of my sweet Emily, a true Little Lady if there ever was one.

She is an early riser, and yesterday morning when I opened the coop, she had already laid an egg for me. She hurried down the ladder to get her breakfast while I held her still-warm treasure in my hand. She is such a good chicken.

Emily and Amelia joined our little flock just about a year ago. They are best friends, different from each other and different from all of the others.

Although she is the smallest by far, she still works hard to lay eggs as big as everyone else. She makes sure she is never overlooked, and always has something to say even though her voice is smaller and softer (and much more ladylike) than the rest.

Her feathers are beautiful, don’t you think? Against the straw in the run, you may see how the feather colors and patterns help to camouflage her. They would be perfect in the shadowy brush of a forest, the original home of domesticated chickens.

It was a vacation day for me, so I took my chair inside the run and enjoyed my second cup of coffee while everyone had their breakfast salad. Emily spent some time checking out my project pants and shoes just in case some of the paint specks might really be bugs for breakfast. They could be camouflaged too!

You can read more about all of my chickens on this page.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. When I can, I like to post these photos so you know these are real chickens even though some of our adventures may not be. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!