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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Another Cat Spread

This past week has been a busy one. My sister, who lives next door to me, had knee replacement surgery, and I’ve been her care-giver. I’m happy to report that she’s doing well. What wonders modern medicine can do!  But, though the outcome will be good, the recovery is challenging.

So, I haven’t been able to do much artwork, but I did manage a little bit to share with you. I’m working on a new art journal spread and, once again, it features a cat! (No surprise, actually.)

This is as far as I got. Most of the collage and painting is done, but there’s still more to do, plus the text. Don’t you love the little groundhog above the rose above the cat’s head? It’s from an old dictionary – a valuable collage resource!

The magazine image of the cat was my starting point. From there, I thought about winter. It was particularly rainy and gloomy this past week. Winter can certainly be cold and gray, and dreary and gloomy, but there are plenty of fun things to do in winter. Namely, make a frilly Valentine; plan your garden, order your seeds, and start your seedlings; celebrate Groundhog Day; and just enjoy staying home with your cat!

That would be the text. Next question? What would my palette be?

Here’s the answer. First, who can resist the Pantone color of the year, Peach Fizz? I got out a few different peaches then, to add a winter feel, this pretty, cool blue.

Now to find some starting images to complement my cat.

I like to save my seed packets, so I looked through the old ones and decided on this muted one for Sweet Peas, one of my favorite flowers. (There are seedlings in the garden now. I planted them in October after I took out the morning glories, and now I watch them carefully, covering and uncovering them with frost cloth as the weather forecast dictates. Anyway.)

Also, I found a peach rose from the David Austin rose catalog, cut a few hearts from magazine clippings of appropriate colors, found the nice script word “Winter,” and tan add for the charming little ceramic house. I thought the house would work because of the “stay home with your cat” piece of my intended text.

Now to place them and get started with the collage.

Here they are, all glued down and then smeared here and there with some paint and dabbed in other places with drops of alcohol ink. The only thing that’s not glued down is the little groundhog line drawing from the old dictionary.

At this point, it just looks like a messy hodge-podge. So it was time to try to pull it together.

Now what I have is a few clusters of interest. The first is the cat, with the two roses, the heart, and the groundhog pulled together. The extraneous writing on the cat image is now covered over with light blue paint, ready for me to add my own text.

The second one is the heart in the lower portion of the left page of the spread. That heart was a real challenge. It started out as the larger heart which was an image of fabric with the smaller, checkered heart over it. The smaller heart had partly crumpled up when I glued it down. I wanted to add a lacy white border to the heart, but it wasn’t showing up the way I wanted with a white Posca paint pen. The I tried white NeoColor II water soluble crayon, which worked a little better. The heart image clusters with the small rose to its lower left and the blue alcohol ink blob.

The third cluster is something which only showed up at this point. The Sweet Pea seed packet would go with the text “Plan your garden and Order your seeds.” But I was inspired to draw a little grid of sprouting seeds for additional text – “Sprout your seedlings.” I used a black ink pen and then drew a pencil line frame around the seedlings. Finally, I added white water soluble crayon along the inside of the pencil frame. I really like this addition of the seedlings for a couple of reasons: it’s done with fine lines, which repeats the line work on the sweet pea drawing on the seed packet, the groundhog, and the word “Winter”; also, it’s a square—a straight-edged component in a spread of images that are mostly rounded. I think contrast accents usually are a good addition.

At this point, I’m pretty happy with the spread. What remains is to add the text and then see what else I need to do to finish. I think I might have a bit of trouble with the text because the surface is very uneven with the collage and smeared paint. I may use a combination of alphabet stamps (so tedious, though) and handwriting.

Hopefully, I'll be able to show you the finished piece next week. Meanwhile, enjoy your art adventures!

P.S. I have a mixed media tip for you. Don’t judge your piece when it’s wet. When you’re using collage, your adhesive is most likely water-based and it will soak the piece you’re gluing on. The effect of this is to make the clipping transparent enough that you’ll see hints of what’s on the back of the paper, resulting in a muddy look. Also, most paint changes color-at least a little bit-when it dries. Acrylics get darker. So, try to reserve judgment until the piece is good and dry—when there are no distortions. I predict you’ll be a lot happier!


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