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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Tiny Image, Big Inspiration

I was flipping through an old magazine when this small image (below) caught my attention. What attracted me was primarily the colors. Then I was struck by the simple composition - one which violates a supposed 'rule' against dividing the image in half. And, of course, the heron in what seemed to me to be an unusual pose, was the topper! I've never been a landscape painter, but I wanted to try capturing this captivating scene, so out came my art journal!

I knew I wouldn't be able to do a realistic landscape, but I wanted to recreate the feeling that I got from looking at the original, the invitation to enter a place I'd want to be. So I would just take my cue from the colors and their placement. But first, I wanted something interesting underneath it all.

I found a few pages in another magazine and decided to use them as a ground. Also, they'd overlap the open seam in the center of the page. That would be a good thing because it would prevent my paints from seeping through that seam and onto other pages.

After I glued the pages down, I noticed the little heron on the left page and when I rolled gesso over the page (with a brayer), I left a space where he showed through. By the way, my adhesive (Liquitex matte gel medium) was still a little wet when I added the gesso, and the result was that some of the paper on the right pealed off, leaving the image transfer of the text that was on the other side of the magazine page I'd glued down originally. I think it's pretty nice, but I don't think any of it showed in the end.

Now for the painting.

I used my acrylic craft paints and just laid in simple blobs of color using the original image as my guide. I wasn't too happy with it at this stage, but I knew I needed to just keep going.

The harsh, unrefined blobs bothered me, so I decided to make them an underlayer by rolling gesso over the piece once again. But I was more sparing this time, allowing the painting to show through pretty well. Now my underpainting, as well as the original image, would be my guide.

I knew I needed a lot more, and just kept working. But now I began also using my Golden Fluid Acrylics to add washes of color over the blobs. By the way, I used Phthalo Green Yellow Shade over the water. It's that color in particular which attracted me to the original image.

This is where I ended up. But my original intention had been to add the original image as well as to paint a great blue heron somewhere on the spread, maybe on the right side, with its head and neck crossing the horizontal line dividing the water from the land.

But I was stalled.

As I moved the original image around over the spread trying to find a good place for it, it was hard finding a part of the spread I was willing to cover up. But finally I did.

But then when I tried to find a place to paint a large heron, it was even harder. I printed a photo of a heron, cut it out, and moved it around to see where it might work. But everywhere I tried, I found I didn't want to cover anything.

Still, the piece feels unfinished. I think I need to let it sit for a while.

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