The moment I realized I was making a collection of chicken themed art inspired by the world of art history, I knew my next piece would pay homage to Byzantine art. If I asked you right now to conjure up an image typical of Byzantine art in your mind, I can all but guarantee that whatever you're picturing is smothered in gold leaf, and any humans involved are stylized, stiff, and probably wearing a halo and a fancy robe. In fact, it probably looks a lot like this:
Am I right?
The examples of this period's artistic offerings as seen in museum collections strongly emphasize non-secular subject matter. These scenes are elevated to extreme heights of religious import through intricate patterns, meaningful text, overzealous applications of gold and even jewels in the case of mosaics. The reverence for the subject matter is clear.
I thought it might be fun to apply some of this to a portrait of chickens. Obviously the background would have to be gold (at least in color). In rendering the chickens, I wanted them to have the stiff demeanors and unamused expressions that so many dour figures have in the Byzantine paintings I most enjoy. Odds are good that the less fun the Byzantine subjects seem to be having the more fun I have looking at the artwork. I even took care that the chicks' expressions would appear a wee bit sour.
Line work complete, I began to think about how to reference the painting style without being too authentic to allow for creativity. I found this image (described as Archangel Michael from the Hagia Sophia) while browsing for examples of Byzantine styled feathers:
On top of the feather inspiration, I also sourced some colors from this piece to apply to my own artwork as it has a great balance of the tonality of gold. In the end, I opted out of halos—they seemed to make the composition too busy. A mosaic-influenced border gives a nod to that other ubiquitous artform of the period—and of course, no shadows to be found anywhere. Here's my final piece:
This was a hoot to make. If you like this piece and wish to have it as your very own, you can buy prints in two sizes here.
I created this painting using Kyle T. Webster's brushes for Photoshop. If you love digital painting, be sure to check them out!