Most of our chickens sleep in our chicken coop, but there are three chickens who prefer bunking with our sheep, goats and pigs in our barn on the upper level of our land. We call them “the Upstairs Chickens”.These ladies are quite confident in their interactions with their much larger bunk mates. At night, they nestle in for a cozy night’s sleep right next to our goats and sheep.During the day, they can be found grazing in the fields with their barn friends. The most surprising interaction is at meal time. Our barn animals don’t like to share their feed with each other, but they all make an exception for the Upstairs Chickens. These assertive girls walk right up to the feed bowls with an air of confidence so strong that even our hungry piggies can’t resist. Our Upstairs Chickens don’t take advantage of their power. They take a few pecks of their friends’ meal but always leave plenty for their generous hosts, keeping the peace at Patina Farm.
*Available in 4 sizes: 12x12, 24x24, 40x40 and 48x48
*2 week production time
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Val Shaff - Artist Statement
The Animal portraits of Patina Farm
My sepia toned, environmental portraits of farm animals are as warm and soft as their subjects. I hope to create a connection for the viewer with a sense of the individual spirit of the subject.
I made these photographs exclusively for Patina Farm. When I am in the field with my subjects all of my senses are happy so close to the earth. Smelling the smells, hearing the sounds, I grow very quiet and move slowly . I make my job a bit easier by photographing animals who are living in loving environments and not being farmed industrially. I believe that if I can get my subject to be engaged with me that what will be revealed is an essential aspect of their character and personality.
For the sepia toned environmental work I look for timeless environments that do not refer to the presence of people . I want to feel a sense of the primordial world inhabited by the others.
When I am photographing in the field I work with good old fashion film. I like working slowly and picking my moments carefully. The marriage of analog and digital gives me the best of both worlds.
When I photograph against black ground, I am working with high digital technology . My medium format Hasselblad digital camera sees things more sharply than I do. These images refer to the paintings of the Dutch Masters . I like to think that I am creating small masterpieces by simply doing justice to the likeness of my subjects. In response to my love of painting, I print on the finest canvas available for digital printing and it is done by a small family owned company in the United States. This medium allows the subject to imbue a space with a presence that I find otherwise obscured by glass .
My animal portraits are made with the hope that living with animal iconography is uplifting . It fills our homes with characters that express innocence , authenticity , humor , nobility , mystery, steadfastness ; In short the animals express and affirm our own values . We are all connected as we share the ground beneath our feet .