I’m often asked to do art work for family and friends. After all…I taught art for thirty years in the public school system, so naturally it stands to reason (in my family’s minds) that I can do it all.
Paint a mural on a grandchild’s, nephews or nieces bedroom wall, perk-up a few flower pots for center pieces, give advice on decorating… maybe a poster for a family event… you name, I’ve been asked to do it.
I don’t mind, really, if I have the time and a clear idea of what they want. It’s when they say, “Oh, you know… just do something with a farm theme” or “Something cute, it doesn’t matter.”
So earlier this spring, when I was visiting back home in Iowa, my brother-in-law laid the latest project at my feet—a cement hen with two chicks that had been his mother’s, and had been displayed at their family farm since the early sixties.
They were recognizable as fowl by their shape, but the paint had chipped and peeled away long ago exposing the concrete beneath. One chick’s tail was chipped and the base on the other one was broken. The hen had a few nicks, but otherwise in good condition.
After my brother-in-law pressure washed them and repaired the broken sections he asked if I thought they could be restored, and would I take on the challenge.
Keep in mind, these were made of cement, not fiberglass or plastic. These were the, “real deal!”
The hen weighed-in at hefty twenty-four pounds, and the chicks were two pounds each. So tapping my finger to my chin and squinting for a quick visual assessment, I said, “Yeah, sure.”
I brought them back to Kansas with me where they sat in the carport most of the summer. I kept walking past the trio, feeling guilty because I hadn’t started on them.
For one thing, I wasn’t sure if I should restore them to the original representation of the familiar Leghorn breed, or a variety slightly more interesting.
L to R…Rhode Island Red, Leg Horn, bottom…Plymoth Rock
I was always partial to my grandmother’s flamboyant Plymouth Rock hens, and thought they would be fun to paint or maybe the Road Island Reds would be nice. Googling chicken breeds, I printed out my top three and I settled on the Plymouth Rock.
So here is the project from start to finish, and I must say I’m proud of them.
I kinda’ hate to give them up!