Painting of the Week: The Ladies Room by Fargo Artist Ellen Jean Diederich
Starting over on a failed but good idea can lead to success!
“The Ladies Room” is still one of my favorite paintings to this day. It relates so much to human character and even more to my personal history. These hens are definitely talking about something.
In 1972, my parents purchased 160 acres near Staples, MN. There was a barn, a chicken coop and a house. My Dad tore down the house and built a chicken coop with a Mansard roof on it. He added onto the chicken coop and turned that into a barn. Then he began turning the barn into a house which was never finished.
One day a UPS driver drove up the yard. The driver looked around and then decided to walk up to knock on the door of the chicken coop. The chickens cooed back at him. I came up behind him in my lime green urchin jacket and asked “Can I help you?” I swear he jumped three feet in the air. It was so funny! I wonder if he watched “Children of the Corn” the night before.
For “The Ladies Room” my first rendition was large 22” x 30”. My big error was the far left chicken’s body was in the chicken coop and his feet were outside of it. Because of the scale of the piece, the unattractive chicken details were more relevant. Disgusted with my failure I gave up, but the idea haunted me.
So I came back and reduced the size of painting in half, correcting the drawing. First I painted a warm up piece that was very inspirational! A plaid that showed up in that was painted the upper right corner. The cracked window became a beautiful source of light. I began decorating the interior of the chicken coop. A yellow pail turned into an art piece. An iron bar hanging from the window somehow turned into a ribbon and was connected to a chicken. From a blue jean advertisement, spider webs were turned into curtains moving into wallpaper and then some dirty chicken carpeting. I scratched and scraped the exterior paint making a “frame in frame” composition. Complimentary colors were used to tone the rich rustic palette. It was an incredible watercolor experience that was fearless and full of joy and totally unexpected!
“The Ladies Room” is available as a giclee which had a most fantastic printing experience I came up with to keep the rough edges showing. Buy the medium size as it’s the same size as the original and truly looks authentic!