To order one of the last signed,
limited edition prints, click here
As the world seems to become scarier, a chicken such as I (and perhaps you) becomes even more nervous and trembly than usual. Clucking turns to squawking, sleeping turns to fretting and scratching around the coop at 3:45am, egg laying becomes irregular. To combat this, she sometimes ventures across the street for restorative walks through Highland Park (a hilly, flowering masterpiece by Frederick Law Olmstead).
One day a few years ago, Chicken was in the park, seeking a bit of calm. As she scurried along the winding paths past masses of flowering bushes and trees, she noticed a discreet wrought iron archway off the path. It was across a sweep of grass, at the edge of a bit of woods. Approaching it, she noticed letters in the archway: “Poet’s Garden.” Beside the archway was a plaque on a pedestal, with words on it. The words talked all fancy about the wisdom you can get from nature, and the signature was “Wm Shakespeare.” How lovely, cheering and calming those words were! Stepping tentatively through the archway, she followed a tiny, meandering path through a mini-woodland paradise. Benches had been placed here and there where one could rest from all the scurrying and fretting. The trees, shrubs and ground covers created rooms that were prettier than a king’s henhouse. Chicken sat quietly, and presently, a thought formed in her small, scattered brain. Olmstead had used nature to create lovely, soothing art. So had Shakespeare. Perhaps a lowly chicken with artistic leanings could, too.
She would create something that would help friends recover from bad news, and carry on cheerfully with their Important Business. She decided to draw a pretty bit of nature, along with those same words (from As You Like It). If she could do a good job, maybe looking at it would be like a mini-trip to the Poet’s Garden.
Shuffling through photos of favorite places, she came upon snapshots of a place in the New England countryside where Grandma Chicken used to take her. Grandma would park at the side of a road (yes, some grandma chickens drive cars, stick shifts in fact), and take her and her brothers tromping through high grasses, past a NO TRESPASSING sign. An angry man might appear and ask what business we had on his land, and Grandma would smile warmly and assure him that his ancestors had given her and her descendants permission to trespass for all eternity, plus we picked up litter. The man would wave us on resignedly, and we would continue into the mossy green woods, climb the rocks alongside a rushing brook, and have a picnic under Webb Falls. One time, feeling unusually brave and adventurous, Chicken climbed all the way up to the place where the stream approached the cliff and went over the edge (the stream, that is). She took a picture of that high-up stream, glittering and gurgling and taking a deep breath before the fall, with the stones and trees that made a sort of beautiful chapel-shelter for the stream. What a perfect picture to go with Shakespeare’s fancy words about trees, stones, and running brooks.
To get dibs on one of the last signed,
limited edition prints, click here
Having just begun a vacation from making block prints, which are very challenging to a bird of small brain, Chicken decided to do her art with paint and brush. She mixed her gouache paint colors in small vintage film canisters. She got a board made of 100% cotton. She chose two brushes: one medium-sized for the picture part, and one with about seven hairs for the very wee olde English style letters. Painting very slowly and carefully, she gradually noticed that her usual jangling thoughts–the fox up the hill, that randy rooster, irregular eggs and overdue sales tax returns– had faded away. The painting’s magical calming powers had already begun to work!
No sooner was the painting finished than a very nice lady from Boston took it home with her. Chicken issued a limited edition (200) of fine art giclee prints made from a very fine photograph of the painting. The prints are so good that you can see where the brush swirled the green paint around the black letters. She hopes very much that the “Shakespeare” prints are working their cheering magic for all who have them on their walls.
And now that they are almost all sold, she’s hard at work making a very large painting of leaves, water and sunlight, which she hopes will also have the powers to turn friends from fretful to fancy-free.