On September thirteenth, my yard-man informed me that there was some kind of animal under a plant along my front walkway. I went out to look at it and told him it was an opossum. I don’t think he had ever seen one up close. He thought it might be sick or dead because it wasn’t moving. At the time I was busy with my son who was installing an overhead light in the kitchen.
Late in the day when I remembered the animal, I checked where he had been, and of course, he was gone. Opossums are known for playing dead. Later in the month, I had two occasions when I was in the side yard and thought I smelled dog poop but couldn’t locate any.
A few days after a hard rain during the first week of October, I was picking up sticks and branches under my big sycamore tree. I spotted a stick on the brick step of the rarely-used side door. It is not unusual for have sticks slide down the roof above and land here. As I bent down to retrieve it, I saw some kind of mess on the edge of the step and on down into the dirt under a mock orange bush. This area had been clean the last time I looked at it.
Before I actually picked up the stick, I realized that it wasn’t really a stick. What was it? Looking closer I thought I saw a bone. By this time, my brain had assessed the scene and flashed opossum, as I noticed fur, teeth, whiskers, more bones, and the tail on the bricks. Ah! This was the source of the odor I had noticed a week or so before.
This was not my first encounter with opossums. In my memoir, I recount an episode where a mother opossum had her babies in our garage. I am pretty sure that an opossum has been eating oranges from my tree for years, and last spring, cleaning up, I found excrement from a large animal in a well hidden area, and suspected it might be from an opossum.
Last week, as I was looking for collage elements, I saw what looked to me like two beady eyes above a long nose and what might be ears above the eyes, in a boiled book page. Apparently, cleaning up the remains of fur, bones, and tail has lodged in my brain.
And so, I found myself at 11:30 pm on Saturday night trying to make a decent looking piece of work. I had decided I should put in some dark areas first, and then decide how and where to add light areas. I added some dark paint around the torn image.
I also added a strip of lace for light and texture on the left side, but then everything appeared to be going vertical and it needed a horizontal line. I used paint to extend the color of the boiled book to the other side of the lace. I tried adding rubber stamp images to soften the paint lines.
It looked okay as I turned out the lights and went to bed. Getting into bed, I concluded that I don’t like using paint with collage to try and make it work.
Sunday morning in the daylight, the dark color around the opossum image was much too blue. I liked the mottled section on the right side, and decided I wanted some of that effect on the left side. I was able to find a remaining scrap that I had torn off days ago.
Mixing paint to darken the blue area took some work to get it dark enough without going to black. I also needed to match as closely as possible the color of the boiled book piece, so that it appeared to be going behind the lace, and provide the continued horizontal lines.
This collage was made on tag board which did not work with matt medium and dried with ripples in the top part. I mounted the collage on corrugated cardboard using Yes paste. It was weighted overnight to dry, but the ripples have remained, although they don’t show in this photo.
So, one of this series I’m making for the online class is finished, and I’m satisfied with it. Before I tackle the other two collages, (the beginnings I showed in last week’s blog), I’m going outside in the sun and dig up more weeds in my yard.