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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

A Stag in the Forest

This little stag head painting has been kicking around my studio for at least a couple of years. Saturday, when I came across it again, I just knew it was finally time to do something with it and decided on a spread in my art journal.



I’m pretty sure the stag is watercolor with ink, but I dampened a little corner to make sure I’d sprayed it with Krylon Workable Fixatif. A good coat of the fixative makes it possible to go over it with water-based media, including the matte gel medium I use as an adhesive in my mixed media work, without having the paint smear. It was fine.


The easy approach, involving skipping going through my large stash of magazine clippings, called to me, but I resisted. Going through the clippings can be a big job since I have so many, but I have them sorted and organized into 12” x 12” scrapbook paper storage boxes to make it a little easier. Since the background of the stag painting is a muted blue-green, I looked through my “Patterns and Textures – Cool” for possible collage candidates, and was pleased with what I found.


If you have old magazines with nice images (or text) printed on good quality paper, treasure them! I’m sad to see so many going out of business or opting for cheaper, thinner paper and skimpier issues. Or, it you see some old issues of your favorites on Etsy or eBay, snap them up! They’re going away, never to be reprinted. Among my favorites are the old Martha Stewart Living magazines. She had some gorgeous images, especially of collections such as milk glass, in every issue. Catalogs can be useful too.


There aren’t a lot of different images in this spread, but that wasn't a problem. It was especially gratifying to find the same image – the swirling patterns from old wallpaper or perhaps fabrics – in two color schemes, both of which worked with the stag.


The image beginning at the center top, covering most of the width of the spread and extending about three fourths down the page, is also a good one. It was from a Sundance catalog and was advertising beautiful glass icicles. They were shown hanging from an evergreen branch dusted with snow.


And then, perhaps my personal favorite, a dark brown solid background with golden branch type shapes from which hang little golden balls. I put this one to the left of and behind the stag. Thankfully, before I glued it down, I realized much of it would be behind the stag, and since I liked it so much, I decided to tear that part away. No need to waste it! Perhaps it would find a home somewhere else. And it did!


In consideration of value balance but for no other reason, I put it in the upper right. It turned out to be a happy surprise, as I think it’s one of the best parts of the collage so far. Without it there, I don’t think the piece would be as interesting – not by a long shot.


I did add some paint – the muted mid-tone blue green around that dark piece. Then, on a whim, I smeared some between some pairs of icicles. By contrasting with the background, it gives the impression of tree trunks. The pine branches from the original clipping serve as the tree tops and the two together look like a forest – perfectly at home with the stag.


Serendipity brought me to this point, and I’m very happy with it – so much so that it will be a challenge to add anything more. I’ll have to look at it over several days to see what I think, and one possibility is certainly that it just stays like this. We’ll see!


 

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