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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

A Chicken Showed Up

Here’ where I finished last time, inspired by the colors in a spread from a catalog, and with no idea where I’d go with it.

I did, however, know that I loved the colors and was attracted to working with them. So I added paint over the spread, preserving bits of the images that I liked and otherwise using colors from the original spread, placed in approximately the same positions and with the same values.


Then I decided I wanted a second layer of collage and began ‘fussy cutting’ flowers from other pages in the same catalog.

Later that day, I was opening mail and a couple of small images fell out of a mailer from a farm animal welfare group. There was a chicken! Her colors made me think of some of the colors in the collage page, so there she landed: a Chicken in the Garden.

I once had chickens in my garden. Over the years, one after the other passed on, but Maisie, the friendliest, lasted quite a bit longer. She was my gardening buddy, following me around as I weeded, just waiting for delicious worms and bugs to come her way. She was all black, but her black feathers had green, purple, and blue iridescence in the right light. Not only was she a friendly, intelligent chicken, but she was beautiful! I decided to do some journaling about her on the page.


And while I was at it, I thought I’d do some line work, imitating some of the flowers from the collage. I used a fine permanent ink pen from Staedtler. But always wary of smearing, I let the piece dry overnight before I continued.

At this stage, though, I began to be disappointed in something about the piece. It seemed so busy. And it also seemed to suffer from the lack of white. The colors which at first had seemed so bright, now seemed dull. Was it because of a lack of white? Or were they really dull? I know a lot of the colors are rather dull, but still, I was surprised. Plus, I noted there was no calm stretch, nowhere for the eye to rest.



So, I added some white.

Just after I added the chicken, I saw that her head was sort of lost in front of the background at that spot, so I added an aura of light yellow, which helped. But now I brightened it even further with white.

I smeared some white in other places too, including some of the linework flowers.

Then the turquoise heart seemed to stand out too much. I started to tone it down by painting around it so that it was a circle rather than a heart. Still too much. So I smeared some white over it too.

I was just about to get rid of it completely, but then I saw it as a blue moon! That, I liked! I’m glad I took the brief pause which allowed me to see it, and now it’s one of my favorite parts. Funny how mixed media worked with serendipity, can turn out. And, of course, you can just keep going until you like what you have. How forgiving!

Oh, and I’d like to point out that I often use an opaque white Posca pen to brighten the edges of flower petals where there are highlights. Magazine (and catalog) images are great, but they often benefit from a little brightening.


Here’s a detail – a rather large one – which I particularly like.

This was fun! And a nice, relaxing interlude.


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1 Comment

Feb 29

Thanks for sharing the details of how you layered and added and tweaked until you were happy with it. It's helpful to learn the processes of artists I admire in hopes that the information will resurface while I'm working on something. Also, I liked your story about Maisie. I bet she was a fun companion.

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