While I was browsing for reference imagery for my Byzan-teeny Bantams piece I noticed a glut of "Madonna and Child" themed art from the period. It's a ubiquitous theme for much of Western art history, but I can think of no period with more redundant examples of it than the Byzantine era. You know where I'm going with this...
As Mary nurtured her wee one, it's not hard to draw a comparison to the devotion of the Broody Hen to her nest of little peeps—especially when you find an image like this one:
Basically what we have here is Mary in a giant church nest with her little chick under her wing. How could I possibly leave this alone? Obviously this needs to be done with chickens.
As with my previous Byzantine inspired piece, I wanted to make recognizable references to the style without beating the viewer over the head with it. I kept my color palette very limited, settled on a generally symmetrical composition with architectural elements, and incorporated some symbolic imagery. Here we have it:
Eggs and feathers decorate the column designs which are each crowned with rising suns to symbolize chickens as heralds of the morning. The corner decorations each feature two of my hens' favorite snackable insects—crop destroying moths and beetles—highlighting their role as frontline pest repellents for hobby homesteaders. Individual corn kernels are arranged as 4-leaf clovers to represent their contribution to garden fertility through the use of their composted droppings and how lucky I (and the whole family) feel to have stumbled upon the practice of keeping chickens in the first place. Lastly, the hen's halo symbolizes her sacred role as protector and provider for her brood.
I'm very, VERY happy with how this piece turned out. If you'd like to have your very own copy you can buy it framed or unframed in two different sizes here.
I painted this artwork with Kyle T. Webster's fantastic brushes for Photoshop. If you love digital painting, you must give them a spin!