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 www.picturetrail.com/artsngardens. 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.......

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Supports - for exhibiting books

These are the book supports I made to cradle the books so they can be displayed open without putting much stress on the bindings. These are soft enough to bend - yet firm enough to be supportive. Anything much higher would let the books slide off. I found the dog toys at the Dollar Store and covered them. For some, I stenciled the words Book Art on strips of the fabric, for others I just freehand printed the word Altered on them in silver glitter. I left the handles exposed on those that came with them. If you have other ways of displaying your books, I'd like to hear about them. Please post a comment.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Book Arts Jam - update

I just found out the tables are only 5 feet long. Wow! So, I am editing back even more. I've got my books laid out on a table at home and am playing with the space to see what looks good next to what. I think it will be important to show different types of alterations to books - so that will be the determining factor. My good friend Jackie suggested switching the books during the day so more can be seen. I'll probably do that. But a couple big books will be shown all day because they are so unique. I'm really looking forward to that day.

In case it doesn't show on your screen, please read Diane's comment to this post. She has some great ideas!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Arts Jam

It's time to get ready to show my books and to see all the other amazing book arts at the Book Art Jam at Foothill College (Los Altos, California) on the 17th of October. You can follow the link for more information. If you are within driving distance I urge you to attend. It's free except for a minimal parking charge. A whole day of browsing and talking with book artists and printers. There are a few vendors there too, so you can pick up some amazing things - like special papers and supplies.

I will have an 8 foot table there to show my books (which are not for sale). My problem now is editing!!! I have so many I'd like to show - yet I don't want a crowded table. I like people to have time to sit and enjoy them page by page - if they are interested. I will have white cotton gloves for those shy about handling them - although I encourage people to pick them up and handle them - even if they fall apart. I can fix them again.

I want to show the Ruins book because it is very unique in the world of altering books. And Food Poisoning, Headaches, City of Bones, and The Economy because they are quirky and fun. My Fair Lady is such a beautiful book, it should be shown. White Crosses, What's Love Got To Do With It?, and Surviving are my deeper books, more thought provoking. They need to be shown. I wanted to show some fabric books and the Mushrooms, Kitchen Chairs, etc - but dont' want to give up the room. My plan is to show the books open, resting on a little pillow/cradle - to invite turning pages. Two rows - smaller books in front - and the larger ones behind them. I've been making Captions to print and place with each book, explaining a little about the technique or the inspiration. I am also commited to printing handouts with information including a link to this blog. Hmmmm....... I've got a lot to do. The black tablecloth is washed and ironed. I've yet to make the book pillows. I'll post pics later - I think they are very clever and handy.

Anyway, if you are nearby, come say hello and enjoy the day. You'll see so many awesome and different types of books you'll be dazed! You'll meet a lot of fascinating people and be able to talk to them about their work and their methods. It's a unique opportunity. Hope to see you there.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tutorial - The magic of touch - practice book

The tactile senses are engaged when you handle an altered book. There is something very intimate and engaging when you not only see and read one - but when you touch it. It's like the difference between sitting curled up in a chair with a book to read, or having a Kindle. It adds a whole other dimension and I truly wish that it could be shared online - but it is the missing link.

I often back some pages with masking tape and paint over it. I dont' know why I like the feel of it so much. One of the places I use this technique is when I am altering pages consecutively to add strength. Occasionally I'll cover an entire page with clear contact paper. Usually it's to protect something fragile - but sometimes it is because I want it to be wonderfully smooth to the touch.

Different papers have unique feels to them. Smooth, grainy, linenlike, etc. Do you like to have the same "touch" all the way through a book, or do you like a variety? This is just another place where you can experiment. Sprinkle some glitter, or sand into some gel medium and you get a whole different experience than just the visual image. Folds in the paper, or using corregated paper are other examples. Do you have a collection of interesting papers with different touches? Can you duplicate them? If not, you can glue them in. Maybe cut into interesting shapes, or grids. Let's try some of these methods and techniques in your practice book. Devote a few pages to surface textures. Have some fun.

If you do something experimental that you think you might forget how you did it - just write down your formula on the back of the page - or leave a note attached in the book.

Later we will expand on this with other ways to add textures with fabrics, yarns, beads, threads, pine needles, leaves, etc. We'll also play around with raising images and coating with products like clear glazes.

The photo above is from an altered book on Nevada, my home state. The children on the left are my brother and myself. At the base of the deserted mine shaft on the right side, I sprinkled sand into gel medium. I did this a few years ago. Now, I find there are products available on the market to give the same effect. You might want to explore some of them too.