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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Finishing the Cat Spread

For a large portion of the time I’ve spent working on this piece I was dissatisfied with it. My main problem was that it just didn’t feel like Winter, yet that’s what it was supposed to be—fun things to do in winter, favoring staying home and spending quality time with one’s cat!

Here’s what it looked like when I set it aside last weekend.

I didn’t know exactly how I was going to proceed or how I was going to solve the problem I’d identified, but I did know that I wanted line work, specifically, drawing more sweet peas like the ones on the seed packet. My preference was to use a brown pen, but mine had dried up, so I waited patiently for the ones I ordered to arrive. They’re Windsor Newton fineliner pens. I really liked them. The ink went on smoothly and, best of all, they’re waterproof. The only thing I didn’t like was that they were really dark—more like black than sepia.

Guess what! When I looked at my Amazon purchase to be sure what they’re called, I see that I actually ordered black! Darn. But that would explain why they wrote so dark!


So, I did some line work. I added more sweet peas in three places: added to the cluster that was already there; added some coming down from the top on the right side; and added a few to the left of the cat.

Now for the big decision: how to make it more wintry. I decided the problem was the color palette. Inspired by the Valentine heart and the rose behind the cat (suggesting planning the garden), I’d chosen to emphasize peach and pink while added some cool blue to represent the coldness of winter. But the warm colors were what stood out, at least for me. That led me to a possibility—add a dark blue wash. I felt it would be risky. The blue over the pink would be violet which would be OK, but the blue over orange would be muddy. Would that be OK?

In the end, I reminded myself that one of the purposes of an art journal is to learn by experimenting and taking risks. So, I got out the Indigo, held my breath, and forged ahead.


And I added white dots representing snow. I loaded a liner brush with thinned white paint then tapped it against my left forefinger. The hairs bent back, sprang forward, and plop! A spatter! By the way, if you load your brush heavily and hit it hard on your finger, you get a line of dots (see upper left) which I really like.


Now for some writing. I got out my black (not sepia, sadly) pens, some alphabet stamps, and an ink pad. The ink pad was brown, but too warm a brown. Maybe I should get another ink pad. I’ve had this one a long time.

I drew the snowflakes with my silver Uniball Signo silver gel pen. It writes beautifully, and the silver is very shiny and pretty. Most of the snowflakes are small, but there are also three large ones.

Also, I felt I wanted more sweet pea drawing to put something in that lower left corner.

Now I’m happy! And that reinforces the wisdom of one of my mantras: if you don’t like it, just keep going until you do! This works especially well with art journaling which can have so many layers and so many things going on and no rules, at least as far as I know or acknowledge.


I often like to crop my spread in different ways to find a detail view which I really like. Here’s the one I found. I think it would make a nice greeting card or maybe a calendar page.


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I was surprised at how much difference the blue wash made and have learned from you and others to keep going!


Stephanie Hardy
Stephanie Hardy

Ooh, I love it! Yes, very much more wintery after the blue was added. Gorgeous details!

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