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ARTIST'S STATEMENT - ALLISON CURTIS, ROOSTER STUDIO, HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA

My work combines three of my life passions - rare ornamental fowl, photography and painting.  I selectively breed my birds, raise them, study them, photograph, and paint them.  Every year's new offspring bring new exciting subject matter to my lens, canvas, and mind.  I photograph them from across my yard with a 300 mm zoom lens, so I don't disturb their natural (and oh-so-entertaining) behavior. Out of the thousands of photos I take, a few always stand out to me, which I then try to paint.  I use them as a tool to explore the deeply meditative act of art-making. I love combining drawing with painting, and do so with acrylics, colored pencils, shimmering inks and paints, gold leaf and coat them with glossy acrylic varnish.  I try to capture the complex beauty and bold character of my subjects while exploring color, materials, anatomy, and the capability of my mind.  
 

 From 2013-2016 I was without chickens and my art felt stagnant, my cycle was broken.  A combination of a deadly fowl virus picked up from a poultry show, and a very hungry bobcat, lead to the demise of my old flock who used to be my painting subjects. I tried painting other subject matter, and referenced some old photos of long-gone birds, but I was depressed without the joy of chickens in my daily life.  During this time I married, moved to a new property, and underwent a time of change. 
 

My husband and I spent last summer building an aviary so I could get back into raising birds. In early 2017, I found a local man who happened to be rehoming his immense longtailed-fowl flock on craigslist. I was stunned that they were exactly the type I was looking for, and the quality of their genes were far beyond my expectations, with rare bloodlines sourced from all over the country- a perfect place to pick up where I left off. I was shocked that he had birds who looked almost identical to some of my favorite old crossbred phoenix/cubalaya roosters I had in my old flock.  I ended up adopting 38 longtail chickens, including 16 roosters. Every one of them was a small triumph, since they were all wild and cageless where they lived.  I had to catch them all one-by-one in the dark, after climbing 15 feet up into a couple of apple trees-- which was a crazy adventure.  The whole experience of getting these chickens felt like the universe responding to my innermost hopes and dreams.
 

It has been over a year now, and the birds have settled into their new, second home.  I wake up every day with 16 beautiful roosters crowing in my yard, and I have a deep contentment with life these days.  My routine feels normal again.  I have been photographing and painting enthusiastically, studying my new subjects, who are the foundation of all future birds I raise. In coming years I will be painting the offspring of the roosters you see in the paintings here, and so on-- it‘s a cycle of hard work and love that runs deep within me.  Painting keeps me present, and chickens do too.  The longer I keep at it, the more interesting it becomes. I am excited to share my new birds with you. I am so thankful to have found something that is so fulfilling in life, and grateful for all of the support over the years.  Thanks!

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