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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Right Where She Belongs


A heron visited my art journal spread after all.


Here's where I was last week:

Nice enough, but perhaps missing something. Should I follow my original intent of adding a large heron on the right, or should I leave it alone? Unable to make up my mind, I decided to let it sit for a while. Then, last weekend, the heron who belonged there all along flew in.


My big hesitation about adding the bird was covering other things up. Sometimes this is a problem for me, but not usually. After creating over eighty art journal spreads and many other stand-along pieces, I'm used to covering things up and it usually works out just fine. But this time, it stopped me in my tracks.


Given the result though, I'm glad I went ahead. And while I was painting her, I remembered all the times I used to look at lovely landscape paintings and say - jokingly, and usually only to myself - "nice, but where's the squirrel?" That's my way of saying I always like to find life - an animal, that is, not just plants which I do know are alive - in a painting. I think that makes it more interesting.


So I drew the outline of the bird on the spread then filled it in with a few coats of gesso to give me a white base to paint on. It's a fairly simple painting and it echoes the colors as well as the sort of choppy style of the landscape in which the bird sits. The fact that the surface was by now pretty textured, contributed to the rough painting style.


When I was done, I was glad to see I'd added that touch of life, but it didn't happen in just one way. The bird is obvious, but the other touch is the orange. Those few bits of the bright color contrasting with the blues in the landscape I think really added the touch that made the painting work.


By the way, I now see that the color scheme I have is a "split complement," which happens to be one of my favorites. It's two colors which are complements (the blue and orange) along with colors that are analogous to one of them (green, turquoise, and violet being analogous to the blue).


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Nancy W. Johnson
Nancy W. Johnson
Jun 01, 2023

Marvelous spread. That heron on the right is the star of the show! I’m so glad he arrived in a timely manner. Colors are lovely. Thank you for sharing you thought and work plan as the layout progressed. It encourages me to try one, as well. So pretty, Kaaren!

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