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April 2009

The Painted Eggs and from Whence They Came

How beautiful are the colors of the eggs laid by the hens from our son and daughter-in-law's small farm! Looking at a basket of them, newly collected, never fails to inspire me to want to paint them. So, last week, in honor of Easter coming up, I did just that. Something slightly tragic happened during the time I was painting them, but before I reveal what that was, here are the hens that laid the eggs (minus the Leghorn, who laid the one white egg - she's probably off-camera in a nesting box, laying her daily egg): Correction: The Barred Rock hen lays pale brown/buff eggs, not green eggs. I now have my own Barred Rock and therefore, I know :-).

Chicken yard

One little aside: the egg has been used symbolically for thousands of years. It represent fertility (as do lilies and lambs) and new life, which is why it is associated with the festival of Easter, named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn and the spring.

To paint the eggs, I set them carefully on the small desk in my studio when the light of day was rapidly waning. During brief periods while the watercolor was drying on the sheet, I dashed into the kitchen to work on dinner preparations. I went back and forth a few times, drawing at first, then applying light washes of color to the egg composition. Here's a photo showing 5 of the eggs on my desk.

Real eggs blog By the way, drawing and painting eggs is an excellent exercise in careful observation of shape and shadow! And, in the case of these eggs, a worthy exercise in subtle coloring.

After I had some color on all the eight eggs, I made another trip into the kitchen to tend dinner, and upon my return, beneath the edge of my desk, this is the alarming sight that met me: 

Broken eggs Three of the eight lovely eggs had rolled off and smashed to the floor in my absence. Not only was it sad to lose them but my still life with 8 eggs was seriously impaired. So with very little daylight left, I pressed forward painting the five remaining eggs, imagining the play of light, shadow and color on the now-missing three. Dinner was served quite late that night, but my tribute to the Hens of Hazel Dell Farm and their beautiful symbols of new life was finished.


Happy Easter, or happy spring to you!