Sunday, December 27, 2009

Adding a little color

This is a new piece I'm working on. I originally meant it to be monochromatic - but gosh, look what happened! I guess because the day was so grey and gloomy outside, I was attracted by my Carandache's and just went a bit wild. This is still in progress. The main image will be inside the large arch. I think I"ll paint it again following the original concept - then compare the two. I like this one well enough not to paint it out to go back to the pale subtle color palette. Some of the pages in my practice book are what brought me to making this work.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Practice Book - and more

Mushrooms were appearing everywhere. The one facing the fairy is really a biscuit. That spread was just too sticky sweet for my taste so I used other images to liven it up. The Wizard of Oz page was done because I had that little scrap lying around, and decided to use it, which meant it needed a yellow brick road and a witch. And as I was still working with mushroom, I added them as well. The joy of making an art journal or practice book is that things don't have to make any sense. They don't need to follow a theme or be in any order. Just a place to play and use up materials you have at hand.

Practice Book - more views

These pages were done with the continuing mushroom theme. I kept finding things that were shaped like mushrooms, or that I could manipulate into mushrooms. Perfect place to play around in a practice book.

Practice Book - new views

I've been working and reworking some of the pages in the art journal/practice book. Here are some pics. I'm showing you this spread because you can compare the final with the preliminary stage. In a way I actually prefer the early version, but this is just a practice book, so if I screw it up - only you and I will know about it. Right?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Skydivers an image

This is the image I created to illustrate the poem "sky divers" which I wrote to celebrate the season. After painting on the body and gluing on the head, I took a photo and then layered it over a photo I took in my back yard. I talk more about it on my other blog if you care to read more. I will probably use it some way in a new very short altered book.

Who dressed you in your bright colors?
Who taught you to float in the air?
Who chose a crisp autumn morn
tapped you on the shoulder and said "jump"
to launch you out into space?

Who showed you the way to drift?
and pointed you to my back yard,
so I can enjoy your beauty
before I blow you into piles
and bundle you off to the dumpster?
Copyright Janene Ford 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Practice book or Art Journal

Some of my good friends are enjoying making art journals, and never wanting to miss out on anything that sounds like fun artistically (up to a point) - I have started one myself. It is much like a practice book - but I 'm not trying any structural things in it. I am using a composition notebook I covered with fabric, just like covering a board book as in the tutorial given earlier. I had no particular plans and was sort of wondering where to start, so I thought I'd follow what some of my art pals do, clean off your table and use the scraps. I had a folder sitting there with images and some poetry I wrote prior to doing the Mushroom book. These were rejects for that project - but they are good enough to save, so I started with them. Here are the first few pages. Thanks Roberta, Jackie, Pat, Sally, Krissi and the rest of you who have inspired this activity. I think this is something I can work on at the Sr. Center instead of carting paintings back and forth.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Practice book - a new page - Thanksgiving

It is so close to Thanksgiving and many of us are thinking ahead about our menus and our families and coming together. We are also thinking about the many blessings we have in our lives. So, let's take a 2 page spread and make it about Thanksgiving. What does it mean to you? You might want to do this in a journaling style, with writing out what you are grateful for. Or you might want to use your family recipes for the favorite holiday dishes. Or, thinking more globally, what are you thankful for. Our troops, our religion, our planet. Thanksgiving pages can be as personal as you like. Photos of your family might go here. Or drawings of them. And if you are lucky enough to have a grandchild around, or a young child - why not have them trace their hand in your book for one of those handprint turkeys. you probably have some rubber stamps with the word thanks, or thank you on them. This would be a good place to use them. I haven't done my Thanksgiving page yet, but I'll share a pic of the little dogs I'm so thankful to have in my life. They are thankful for that last little spot of sunshine on the couch on a cold morning.

New painting progress

Here are a couple more pics of this new piece. Combining painting and collage and drawing, I never know quite how to refer to my works. Is this a painting?

Again, I could have easily done this piece inside a book, or on a smaller piece of watercolor paper (the base) and tipped it into an altered book. some of the elements I used here are from the stash of stuff I set aside for the altered book I'm planning on Fish/Water.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Art show - Mixed Media

I recently entered two pieces in an invitational art show at the Lodi Art Center. The call for works went out with the stipulation that they must be small works. The paintings could be no larger than 8x12 - although the matting and framing could be any size. I entered two pieces in the mixed media category, one of which, Da Vinci Revisited took first place. If you click on it and look at it closely you will note that there is a lot of texture going on - all from a painting I'd done previously that I didn't like - so I painted and collaged over it. I'm sharing it here, although it is not an altered book, it could have just as well been done in an altered book.

I have had requests to purchase individual pages from my altered books!!!! Remove them, mat and frame them. I could not honor those requests because it would be like cutting off a corner of a painting. Or whacking off a piece of a sculpture. My books are cohesive units.

How do you feel about your altered books? Would you be willing to disassemble them and sell individual pages?

Monday, November 9, 2009

More leaves

When I was leaving the senior center today, after a morning of making art there - and being given persimmons by one of the seniors - I saw these leaves on the ground. These are the same leaves that fall at the University that I was going to go pick up today. It saved me a trip. Aren't they spectacular? Here is a little persimmon with a nose my friend Jean found. Or is it a little tea pot? Here's the new piece of art - a work in progress.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Leaves - checking on your progress

Did you play with leaves? We are having a cold snap tonite, so that means the leaves will drop fast now. They have survived a few wind storms but this will be the turning point. I can already feel the chill. So, tomorrow will be a good day to collect leaves to press. There is no rain so they will not be damp. You may know of special trees in your neighborhood or close by that have designer leaves. The Tiffany's of leaves. The Coco Chanel of leaves. Those are the ones you have to get NOW. There is a tree in the parking lot in front of the Conservatory of Music at the University. I parked under it for years, and could not resist picking them up on my walk to work. I'll have to pop over there tomorrow for my leaf fix.

The leaves in my own yard will need to be raked tomorrow.

I suggest you revel in the beauty of the season and get some leaves to use in your altered books.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Here are a few family images you can use in your art. Please do not copy and sell them on cds, digitally or in any medium.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Using what you have - Science Slave

It's surprising how much art we can make without buying a whole lot of supplies. A friend gave away some 1950's Mechanics Illustrated and Popular Mechanics magazines yesterday, and I brought a few home. Mainly to reminisce - my brother subscribed when we were young, and I read them too. Anyway, I immediately saw a couple images and backgrounds that I could use to rework a piece I'd done last year. There is no reason this could not have been done in an altered book. It started to be a practice piece, but I liked it so much I finished and framed it. I cut the hand out of the earlier work and put a few layers of mat board behind it to raise it above the surface of this piece. Don't limit your practice to your practice book. Try things out whenever inspiration strikes or you find yourself with something interesting to try. Trying them in your practice book is always a good idea.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Practice book - prompt - when is a page a page?

Is it time for another challenging prompt? Since fall is in the air, and leaves are ankle deep on my patio tonite in the midst of heavy windstorm - let's think about the pages in the practice book as leaves. How could you portray leaves on your page? Draw them. Trace them. Cut your page into a leaf shape. Ink some real leaves and use them to print on your pages. Glue in some pressed leaves. Paint a page in a leaf color. Use leaf skeletons on your page. Cut out leaves of fabrics or paper and glue them in. Hmmmm..... Why don't you use one page with only leaves, or a leaf, and another page where a leaf image will be secondary to another image. Here are some pics where I have used leaves. I bet you have a lot of ideas you can share with us. Feel free to make a comment and link us to some of your work.

While we are thinking about leaves, it's time to dig out an old book and start pressing some fall leaves for later use. I often use an old phone book and put some heavy books on top of it. Sometimes I find partial skeleton leaves in my garden. They are so beautiful and so fragile. They need to be pressed also. And don't forget your camera. Take lots of pictures of trees and leaves. The light angles during our fall season makes dramatic shadows. Watch the light at different times of day and how the shadows fall. You can get wonderful shots off the cuff, but also by planning what time of day a particular subject would be the most spectacular.

Have some fun with your leaf pages. Let me know how they come out.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time in a Frame - new pages

I've been down in the studio with the doors wide open so the dogs can come and go, and the fresh air can pour in. Temperature in the 80's today, and as sunny and bright a Fall day as one could ask for. Here are the next couple pages I did today. The gentleman shown in the previous post now is transformed! And on the page across from him is an old mining photo which is altered to look like a ride down to Hell. The children are lined up to get their tickets when you see the two pages side by side. The photo of the woman is a typical Victorian portrait which has now been altered by layering white paint over her face, gluing on the skeleton head and finding a little tiny fork in my embellishing stash box. I used the page preceding her portrait to cut bars so it would look like she is imprisoned. this page is opposite the creepy house shown below.

New Project - Time in a Frame

One of the things I look for wherever used books are sold - are old books with lots of photos I can play with. In this case, I found a book of 19th century photographs. I really bought it to cut out some of the images of impoverished people for another altered book in the planning stage. And some theatrical images which are very expressive.

Because it is close to Halloween I checked Ebay to see what artist Gus Fink is up to. He spookifies (is that a word?) old photos as well as draws weird pictures. My friend Jackie and I each have an original Gus Fink in our collections, but now I can't afford his prices, so I am trying my hand at making some images along his style. He has inspired this book. Jackie and I will be exchanging this book. We'll each work on a few pages and then we'll switch artists. Just the two of us, as we do with found words books. This time it's a found images book. These are some of my first pages. I just thought it up yesterday, so you will see that I believe in following your muse! If you are inspired to do something, for heavens sake - just do it. The art you make when nudged by your muse will be fresher and better than the work you do when you think it out and plan it for weeks or months. And - if you don't like it, you can throw it away, or cut out the pages you don't like. The book goes to Jackie tomorrow when we meet for lunch.

The house picture was very pale with light background, but it seemed spookier to put black background with black gesso and some light touches of white gesso. The little mice are from a Martha Stewart punch I found at Michaels on sale.

The wagon was also on a very light but busier background, so to isolate the wagon I painted out the background, cut some slits in the top and put in pieces of cut up skeleton image.

The spooky soldiers have been isolated with white acrylic paint, and then altered. The werewolf looking guy looks like my dog Lulu. Shhh!!! don't tell her. The gravestone rubber stamp was in the $1 bin at Michaels this week.

The man with the line of children in front is part of a 2 page spread. I'll show the other side later. This is not done yet. The Eskimo children now have their faces painted out, and clothes colored in with colored pencils. The Man is actually a well bred gentleman. I cut around the children and put the man behind. He may turn into the devil by the next time you see him.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Freebies - more hats and aprons

This time I want to share some of my purchased vintage photos that have aprons AND hats!!! How good can it get? You'll have fun with these. I haven't used them in an altered book yet, but you can be sure I will one day. And the little girl is just so sweet. Again, please feel free to use them in your personal artwork, but I ask that you do not copy them to sell on CD's or digitally. and, by the way, if you are searching for an image and can't find it, my personal image database is huge, I might have what you need, just ask. I'm happy to share them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Freebie photos - hats

These photos are ones I purchased which you are free to enjoy and use in your art, but please do not copy and sell them on CDs, digitally, on digital sheets or any other medium.

Altered books - waxing pages

The product I use is Dorland's Wax Medium. I spread it on with a cloth and then buff it until I like the feel and look of it. I have also just used sheets of wax paper to buff pages. It takes longer, but it is a pleasant way to occupy your hands while watching TV.

I bought some clear shoe polish I'm going to try sometime. Seems like it should work fine - but it might smell bad. Sometimes I use hot wax but do not have the knack for getting it on thin enough for just a light coating.

Why wax? The feel of the page. The look of the page. Protects the page. Helps solve sticking problems. It's fun.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Words, words, words...

Several people commented yesterday at the Book Jam, that one thing that set my work apart is the use of words and quotes. There are a lot of book artists who make amazing works of art from their books, and do not use words. But a book means words to me. So I use them. At times I will write a poem for a book or borrow text in collage form from magazines, etc.

Usually I turn to my faithful companion, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations for help. I have it in several editions and it's one of my favorite books to read just for pleasure. Phrases are indexed by author and by subject. When I have a theme in mind, I look it up by that word, or by variations or associated words (keywords). In the index, part of the phrase is given, so I quickly read through them and take notes of the ones that sound like they might work. I put the page and phrase number in a list, in page order (sometimes I have really long lists). Then I go one by one, page by page from the list, and read each one. I scratch out the numbers on the list that are not appropriate. Some grab my attention immediately and I give them 5 stars. Others my rate 1 - 4 stars. If there is enough on the 5 star list, I dont' go back to the others. I then type the 5 star ones on the computer making sure I have the authors' names and the page numbers, just in case I need to go back and check something. When I'm ready, I print them

I have several other books I like to use. "the 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said" by Robert Byrne; "Hodge Podge, A commonplace book" by J. Bryan, III; Crown's Book of Political Quotations" by Michael Jackman; "Amo, Amas, Amat and More" by Eugene Ehrlich; and many others. This last one as well as several books on translating English into other languages are fun to use. It's fun to mix it up and sometimes something just looks or sounds better in Latin or French - or Japanese! Keep your mind open to using words..... verbum sat sapienti (a word is enough for a wise man)

Book Arts Jam - mission accomplished.

Welcome book jammers!!! It was nice meeting all of you at the book art jam. What a fabulous experience!!! So many interesting and engaged people to share ideas with. Awesome. Much to my surprise I was given two round tall tables instead of a 5 foot rectangle at dining height. Panic ensued! How will this work? Well, we artists can adapt. Right? Right. Actually the height worked well for altered books, it put them right at a good reading level. Only the short visitors had problems looking at them.

I had on display the books, What's Love Got to Do With It, Pleasure of Ruins, White Crosses, My Fair Lady, The Bookmakers (otherwise known as Doors and Windows), Headaches, and Surviving. Some of these were made a couple years ago, but I have never shown my books there before, so I wanted to show a variety - even though I had to leave just as many books home. I also tossed in a couple fabric books at the last minute and was pleasantly surprised how many people held and caressed them. Photos of these works can be found on my picture trail site The photo of me shows some of the books on the table. I made new little keepsake business cards for the show and I know they will now be living in studios around the area, like little muses to remind you how much fun you can have with your art.

Here are some photos of the day. This is only one room - I never got around to meet everyone or see the other tables or the other rooms. You will note in the photos how interactive a day it was. Everyone shared a common passion in one form or another, and having a venue where we could be together was brilliant. I didn't get to the presentations, I was kept pretty busy chatting and enjoying meeting other book artists who stopped by. If you were there as a visitor, you probably saw a lot more than I did. A photographer was documenting the event and took pictures all over the room. I am not sure what will become of them - but perhaps it will be on their website later. I hope so, because I missed a lot of what was going on. The colorful young man here is Eli from Monterey who was there taking a class that day. I just alter books, he has altered himself! Sorry the lighting and focus were so bad for this Eli!

The book rests worked perfectly. Many thanks to my friend Rosemary who sewed 5 of them using ribbons to tie the ends. Very nice!!! My friends Nancy and Sally were there too, their first time selling some of their new products. Some of our friends from California Art Girls were there and some from Mixed Media Artists of California came down from Sacramento for the day. It was a good day all around. Now, about next year....... hmmmmm.......