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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Wisdom Lasts Forever

I finished the owls and towers spread, but not easily. I'd have to say that although I'm OK with the outcome, it never really came together for me. But that's how it goes sometimes, and there's always something to learn. I hope my going through the steps I took is helpful or interesting to you in some way.

Here's where I ended last week:

I had a visual jumble on my hands, with lots of things that needed to be integrated and brought together.

The first thing I did was get rid of a lot of the white edges around the owls, especially their heads and upper bodies. I did the best I could to paint extensions of the background images right up to the edges of the owls, but I left quite a bit of the white paper lower down because I thought I'd want to add some text there later.

My main problem at this point was that the owls didn't stand out enough against the background.

So I did two things. First, I washed thinned gesso over the towers to push them back, then I inked over the pencil owls to bring them forward. I also extended the tree branches which I'd painted over earlier. I used ink.

Now for more details.

I used white Neocolor II crayons (water-soluble) to lighten the edges of the spread and also add some random white splotches, mostly in the upper parts.

I wanted something more in the lower right corner and remembered I had a really nice stag stamp. I thought it went with the mood of the old towers. Unfortunately, the ink pad I chose was not the ideal color - too red a brown. But what's done was done....

Time for the text. It took a few tries before I came up with something I liked and that I thought fit the images - "Royalty rises and falls, Power ebbs and flows, Wisdom is forever." I started with the spidery text towards the lower center, then added the same words twice more, just for visual considerations.

I had to do something about that too-red ink, so I glued a strip of paper with a lacy edge (with a punch) across the lower right. The paper strip served two purposes. First, I just thought it looked good there. There was more going on in the right half of the spread than in the left, and I hoped this would balance it better. But also, I knew the strip was likely to wrinkle as it dried and thought if I lightly rubbed the ink over it once it was dry, the ink would catch on it unevenly. That might be interesting. Plus, if I used more of that ink whose color I didn't like, it might not seem so jarring as when it just appeared in one spot.

Finally, some white spatters, a white smudge over the right tower, and a comet hurtling through the sky straight towards that same right tower. What could it mean?

There's something else, but you can't see it. Some spidery thin gold pen work forming branching crowns over the owls' heads. Metallics are tough to photograph, but they're a nice surprise when you see the piece in person.

Oh, and I added the tiniest bit of yellow-orange transparent paint in the owls' eyes.

Finally, here's a detail view that I rather like.

So, in the beginning of this post I said there's always something to learn. What did I learn? To test my ink first on another piece of paper.

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Rhonda McLendon
Rhonda McLendon
Apr 06, 2023

Thanks for Sharing! Love Love Love


Mar 16, 2023

I love this spread Kaaren - it is absolutely stunning. I do see the gold pen work and it is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with this piece.

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