Detail: Opaque pigments in roosters' feathers

In The Cock Fight, Homer incorporated opaque watercolors as needed. Unlike his opaque watercolors of the early 1870s, Homer did not mix zinc white with transparent pigments to render them opaque. Instead, he worked with opaque pigments themselves. In this work, for example, he used chrome orange, chrome yellow, red iron oxide, and vermillion, applying them pure and in mixtures to form the roosters’ bodies. The relative thickness and stiffness of these colors allowed him to use precise strokes to replicate the look of individual feathers. The artist employed pure vermillion to render the comb and the drops of blood on the tail of the surviving bird. He also made transparent colors more opaque by layering them, visible in the Prussian blue tones that form the blue feathers.

Detail of The Cock Fight, showing Homer’s use of opaque pigments to render the roosters’ feathers with precision.