Down to a Fine Art

Ink artist Colin Brown

Your Chickens - - Contents -

As a teenager, Colin Brown loved to stare at the il­lus­tra­tions of David Stone Martin. The Chicago-born artist be­came fa­mous in the 1950s for his idio­syn­cratic record cov­ers in which bold colours mixed with dra­mat­i­cally dark inky lines. Fast for­ward six decades and Colin con­tin­ues to work in force­ful ink like his idol. Im­pact­ful il­lus­tra­tions of ze­bras, pheas­ants, pea­cocks, dogs, swans and stags line the walls of his Lan­cashire home. Squir­rels also hang along­side Pekin ban­tams and Silkies, for Colin harbours a pas­sion for chick­ens as well as art.

To­day he is sit­ting out­side watch­ing his own chick­ens as he cre­ates his next work –— a pic­ture of Cleo, a Dutch Silkie, who is al­ways last into the coop at night as well as last out in the morn­ing. He picks up a pen­cil and draws her out­line free­hand first of all, cap­tur­ing her sense of life and move­ment in the blink of an eye. He then spends more time build­ing up her form with fine liner pens. Fi­nally, he ap­plies the coal coloured ink where it is needed, es­pe­cially on her feath­ers. And then comes the splat­ter­ing. Pick­ing up a brush, he dips it in the ink pot and gen­tly flicks on to the water­colour pa­per to cre­ate the strate­gi­cally placed splat­ter which has be­come his trade­mark.

“The splat­ter is in­tended to cre­ate drama, move­ment and ac­tiv­ity,” he ex­plains. “Some­times I’ll use a tooth­brush in­stead of a paint brush. Al­though it sounds less glam­orous, it is more ef­fec­tive at get­ting the ink where I need it.

“I like to draw my chick­ens when they are roam­ing out­side, al­though I do use pho­to­graphs some­times just as an ref­er­ence to look at the close-up de­tails, such as the feath­ers, that you can’t spot when they are mov­ing a lot,” he con­tin­ues.

“David Stone Martin is def­i­nitely the rea­son I came to love work­ing in ink. I’ve de­vel­oped my own style over the years and I use my own tech­niques to cre­ate more de­tail and tex­ture than stan­dard ink-based paint­ing.”

Be­fore he headed off to Wolver­hamp­ton Univer­sity to study illustration and fash­ion, Colin un­der­took cour­ses in art and de­sign and fash­ion de­sign at Guild­ford Col­lege. “I’d been in love with art since the age of

five, when I liked noth­ing bet­ter than to draw birds, por­traits or even build­ings,” he says. “To­day my favourite sub­jects are coun­try­side and farm an­i­mals and the ma­jor­ity of my col­lec­tion is based on coun­try­side an­i­mals. The great out­doors is a mas­sive part of my life and even­tu­ally I would like to com­bine full-time farm­ing with my art.”

Like a num­ber of his peers, Colin’s days aren’t cur­rently con­sumed with fill­ing pa­per or can­vas with ink and paint. In­stead he de­cided to pur­sue a ca­reer in the fash­ion in­dus­try and, for the last 10 years, he has worked for lux­ury brands Mul­berry and now Bar­bour as a fash­ion mer­chan­diser.

“I look af­ter the vis­ual side of Bar­bour’s brand in the north of Eng­land and Scot­land — from how it is dis­played in stores, to win­dow dis­plays and shop fit­tings,” he says. “It’s an in­ter­est­ing job and I stay away a lot in ho­tels, so I keep my art ma­te­ri­als in my car and I use my time in the evenings to draw and paint. When I’m home I love to spend the week­end paint­ing.”

Colin is rarely short of a sub­ject. He has 12 chick­ens, in­clud­ing Silkies, Sus­sex, Pekins and war­rens, and they all have names.

“There is June Bug — she’s the strong-minded one; Muggy is al­ways steal­ing food from her sis­ters; Jan­ice is wise and she’s one of the older hens who is so bold that she would even chal­lenge a cock­erel for food; Blue­berry-Blue is in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful and by far the tamest; Grace is very grace­ful, hence her name; Rox­anne is the smallest of the Pekins and she’s a real charmer; while Juno, like her sis­ter, is named af­ter one of my favourite films.”

Colin has a par­tic­u­lar pen­chant for the Pekin ban­tams and the Silkies.

“They’re very sim­ple to look af­ter, but cheeky when it comes to feed­ing time. For ex­am­ple, when they hear my car pull up, they run all the way to the back door of the bal­cony de­mand­ing treats. I have a photo of one of my Silkies that climbed onto

the bal­cony it­self. The pic­ture was even shown on Chan­nel 4’s Sun­day Brunch a few weeks ago. It’s one of my claims to fame.” He laughs.

Via a cou­ple of first cousins, Colin is also linked to the high-pro­file world of foot­ball. Marvin Bart­ley plays for Scot­tish Premier­ship club Hiber­nian as a mid­fielder; while back in the 1990s Mitchell Thomas was a de­fender with Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, West Ham, Lu­ton and Burn­ley.

“I’ve al­ways loved foot­ball, but I started too late to be any good my­self, al­though I played for lo­cal clubs. How­ever, I wasn’t in the same league as Mitchell and Marvin. I of­ten travel to watch Marvin play.”

Colin’s love of chick­ens and var­i­ous other birds (he also owns Mus­covy, Pekin and Run­ner ducks, as well as golden pheas­ants), like his in­ter­est in foot­ball, can be traced back to his child­hood — and even fur­ther.

“My fam­ily are of Ja­maican de­cent and both sides came from a farm­ing back­ground,” Colin says.

“My mum and dad raised chick­ens and pi­geons be­fore I was born as well as dur­ing my child­hood, so this is def­i­nitely where my pas­sion for chick­ens comes from. Dur­ing my child­hood I loved draw­ing my chick­ens and the wild birds that flew onto our land. My grandad on my mum’s side was a full-time farmer back in Ja­maica where he raised chick­ens, goats and other an­i­mals, and I be­lieve that he, too, in­flu­enced my in­ter­est in chick­ens.”

Colin started keep­ing these friendly feath­ered birds when he was a child, at which point he kept sev­eral breeds, in­clud­ing war­rens, Rhode Is­land Reds and Marans.

“I’ve al­ways found chick­ens to be the most re­lat­able crea­tures out there and easy to form a bond with,” he con­tin­ues. “Ob­vi­ously some breeds are eas­ier than oth­ers to raise, but be­cause I’ve kept sev­eral breeds through­out my life there isn’t a sin­gle one that I haven’t bonded with.

“My favourite as­pect of rais­ing chick­ens is feed­ing time. I love the lengths that the birds will go to to get food from you. I do have a pas­sion for birds in gen­eral, but chick­ens are the one bird that I couldn’t live with­out.”

Colin says that he has been “hum­bled” by the in­ter­est in his work since he be­gan post­ing his creations on In­sta­gram (Colin­s_art_de­signs) and Face­book (@ col­i­nartist­de­signer).

“My web­site is also about to launch, so this will be an­other plat­form to show­case my work,” says Colin, who un­der­takes com­mis­sions. “I will also be ex­hibit­ing my work to­wards the end this year and dur­ing 2019,” he adds.

“Al­though art is not my full-time liv­ing at the mo­ment, the de­mand for my work has been re­ally en­cour­ag­ing, so it is al­ready de­vel­op­ing into a big part of my life. It’s be­com­ing far more than a hobby and I have re­cently branched out into cre­at­ing things such as prints for wallpapers and T-shirts.”

It seems likely that June Bug, Cleo, Muggy, Jan­ice, Blue­berry-Blue, Grace, Rox­anne and Juno could soon be ap­pear­ing all over Bri­tain — and maybe be­yond.

I’ve al­ways found chick­ens to be the most re­lat­able crea­tures out there and easy to form a bond with

Colin Brown draws his chick­ens when they are roam­ing out­side

Jan­ice, the “wise” Pekin hen

Colin’s three Dutch Silkies

ABOVE, CEN­TRE RIGHT, BE­LOW & OP­PO­SITE: Colin is rarely short of a sub­ject to draw. He has 12 chick­ens, in­clud­ing Silkies, Sus­sex, Pekins and war­rens

ABOVE AND BE­LOW: Apart from his birds, Colin’s favourite art sub­jects are coun­try­side and farm an­i­mals

ABOVE: Colin’s love of all birds can be traced back to his child­hood BE­LOW: He dreams of be­com­ing a small­holder in the fu­tureBOT­TOM: Two of his war­rens

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.