Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Whole Shebang

As promised, here is the finished version of my altered book cover.

As you can see, I've added a lot to the left side since I posted it here.  The biggest change is the little girl; she is part image transfer, part drawing, and the flower "dresses" are image transfers of botanical illustrations from a textbook dated 1899.  I've also attached a piece of mica, using eyelets and brads.

A word of warning: attempting to set eyelets in mica is not really a great idea, in case you're wondering.

Here are a few details of the piece:

When I was a child, I drew constantly, from a very early age, and loved to make things out of paper.  My grandmother showed me an amazing trick.  She would fold up a sheet of paper like a fan, make a few snips with the scissors, and when she unfolded it, there magically appeared a string of paper dolls, all holding hands.  She told me that when she was a little girl, her family was very poor, and they had no toys at all unless they made them.

I had plenty of toys, including all kinds of dolls, but I found it more fun to make my own. My other favorite pastime was to run around in the woods like a wild animal, exploring every nook and cranny.  Between my yard and the woods was our next door neighbor's yard, and it was here that I got some of my doll-making materials.  I would find just the right stick for the body, and use either one of my neighbor's unripe grapes or apples for the head.

Usually, they wore petunias as dresses, and snapdragons as hats.  Wouldn't you, if you could?

I liked to know the secrets of the earth, and how things grew.  My grandmother taught me these things, and she also taught me to sew.  All these images are woven together in my mind, a tangled collection of dreams and memories.  If you peel back the layers of years, that world still exists, inside me.

We all have these layers of memory.  How many of them are real, or have mixed with dreams and stories and other memories, slowly changing as that moment becomes faint and cloudy, as if behind an old, dusty pane of glass?  And does that even matter, when what's inside our minds and hearts makes us who we are, whether or not it's strictly "accurate"?  These are some things I've been thinking about.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Style File

Apparently, blogger isn't going to let me upload any more photos.  But you can still visit this week's Style File, part of Seth Apter's ongoing collaborative art project, The Pulse.  So head on over to The Altered Page, introduce yourself to some new artists and their blogs, and find out how they describe their own individual art styles.  Examples of their work accompany their words, so it's a real feast for the eyes and mind.

Personally, I find it difficult to pinpoint my own style and translate it into words; I speak much more articulately in pictures.  But I gave it my best shot.  Just click on the icon below, or on the words, "Style File" above.  I think you'll enjoy it.

And if I'm lucky, Blogger may let me upload more images tomorrow...

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Other Side

Here is the right side of the altered book cover I'm currently working on.

ingredients: vintage book cover, vintage book pages, vintage sewing pattern, map, image transfer, hand-printed rice paper, monotype, acrylic gel, watercolor pencil, stitching, fossil.

Stay tuned for further developments!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Work in Progress

With the prospect of the beginning of a new school year in just a few days hanging over my head, my goal has been to finish, or at least get a decent start on, my next altered book cover before school starts.  I'm feeling pretty good about where this piece is going (if not quite as good about where I'm going), in spite of some struggles with problems that I've hopefully remedied.  Here is the left side of the piece as it stands now:

The book page and end paper are from a vintage book of Longfellow's poetry and other writings, and the plant with roots as well as the petunia are image transfers of illustrations from a vintage botany textbook.  I don't know if you can see the little map scrap at the top right; it says, 'Old Davidsonville State Park'.  (You can probably read it if you click on the image.)  The odd thing about this is that it just showed up on my drafting table, and is not from the map I was using for this piece (which is now mostly torn off and underneath several layers of other stuff).  I just happened to look down, and there it was- and I took no notice of it really, until I realized there was a familiar name on it.  I guess it must have been in among some other things I pulled out of one of my scrap drawers.  I have no idea where this park is; if you do, I hope you'll let me know.

I apologize for the poor quality of the photo; I just quickly stuck this on the scanner, and it's not entirely flat, so some of it doesn't show up well.  I'll be posting better photos of further progress in the next day or two, and also explaining some of the meaning behind this piece.  

Just so you know, blogger is not always letting me leave comments on others' posts, and I'm having great difficulty uploading photos; once uploaded, it sometimes won't allow me to add them to my post.  What's up with that?  Maybe I shouldn't have made that comment about blogger and I not being on friendly terms... should I apologize?

Sunday, August 7, 2011


We had a few days out in the country at Shabo-Mekaw, where I was able to take some time to do nothing.  Or, more precisely, I may have appeared to be doing nothing, but I wasn't- I was noticing.  I had to think awhile to figure out what to call it...  I was walking, yes, but not all the time; sometimes I sat down, or just stood in one spot for a while. At the same time, I may have been thinking- or not. Intermittently, I took photos as well.  Well, so what?  It's not really an astounding feat of multi-tasking genius, is it?  Hardly.

What I was really doing is looking at things.  Observing- closely, and carefully.  Noticing.  That's not so unusual, either... it's just that sometimes I notice things most people don't seem to think are worth noticing.  For instance, I can be perfectly absorbed and enthralled for hours just roaming around the island, looking at rocks (or plants, or sticks...).  One thing I noticed on Friday is that the patterns of spots and dots on many of them are quite beautiful, reminding me of abstract paintings.

 The response of many people, if I say, "Look at the spots and dots on those rocks!" is either to pay no attention while saying something like, "Uh-huh", or to smile politely while thinking that my head is full of rocks, or both.

I'm sure these experiences sound familiar to some of you, and I would guess that this kind of noticing is part of what makes someone tend to become a visual artist.

I don't see it as a problem that most people wouldn't have noticed that the rock and the leaf are color-coordinated...

...or that the spots on this rock, when viewed very close up...

...are actually little funny-shaped crystals.

And while I was pondering all this, I noticed something else.  It occurred to me that my favorite things to do as a child- exploring and noticing nature, and making things- are exactly the same as what I most love to do now.  The essence of me, my most authentic and basic self, hasn't changed.  What I noticed, I guess, is that I've never grown up!  And I believe that's probably a very good thing.

What about you?  What did you most love to do as a child- and are you doing that now?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Decisions, Decisions- Please Vote!

This is not a matter of great importance- just something that bugs me.  If you visit my blog regularly, you've probably noticed that I change my header frequently.  The reason for this is that I'm never satisfied with any of them, once I've looked at them for a few days.  Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just ridiculously perfectionistic ol' me?   I used to be a graphic designer; could that be the problem?

So, if you don't mind, I'm asking for a little help- I put my graphic designer pants back on (which were very tight, since they're from back when paste-ups were done with actual paste!), and came up with some new ones.   I'm posting these, along with a few older ones that I think might be acceptable, and I'd appreciate it if you could tell me which one you prefer.  Or, if you have other suggestions, I'd love to hear them- believe me, if you say you hate them all, it will not hurt my feelings.  The question is: what should I do instead? 

Thanks in advance for your opinion!  So, here they are:

#1)  The one I'm using for the header right now.







Again, thanks for lending me your eyes and brains!