Sunday, February 25, 2007


One of the sample activities I mentioned above was creating more spreads in the fish AB. Here's another one.

I prepared the pages for this spread by coating them with gel medium (any kind). When it was dry, I painted on a second coat of gel medium and layered on a sheet of plain white tissue that was around twice the area of the pages. I pushed and crumpled the tissue so it fit onto the page while remaining fairly flat. This gave the page texture.

The next step was to paint on layers of blues and greens and touches of coral, bright red, deep yellow, and blue. I just kept dabbing and swiping until the colors took on the kind of depth you'd expect in an underwater seaweed world.

I added images of two fish and a seashell. What is happening now is that all the fish in the book swim from left to right, so it looks a little as if the fish are on a journey through the landscapes of the book.

To finish the spread I sewed in fronds of sea-coloured yarn close to the fold.

The approaches I've used in this book are all very simple, but people who've not seen them before are impressed. My aim is to help the budding artists in the AB class gain confidence (and impress their friends) by teaching them techniques like this.

Library Project - 25 February

Sorry for the silence. I've been caught in a whirl of prep activity. I'm documenting it in a project journal, which has turned out to be a good thing, because there is currently so little to see that I've caught myself wondering whether I've really been working. The journal shows me that I have indeed been spending a lot of time of very necessary activities. In fact, I've been working very hard indeed.

The perception problem arises because most of my time has been frittered away on the many little tasks necessary to get a show like this on the road and rolling. For example, getting the flyers printed (photocopied) turned out to be a quick job. The printer ran them off for me while we drank herbal tea and had a fascinating conversation about the state of the German economy, real estate prices in Poland, and other interesting issues.

Distributing the flyers was the time-consuming part. I don't have a car, so I had to hoof it or cycle around, carting a basket of flyers and "show me" examples. As many of my European artist friends know, art is not necessarily the everyday and "everyone can do it" affair it is in the UK/USA, and AB are next to unknown in mainland Europe. That makes for a lot of explanation time. I had to spend time showing and telling in almost every location at which I left flyers. There was a great deal of interest (and surprised looks). Now all that remains is to hope that interest translates into participation. The library decided not to charge course fees, so money is no barrier to art in this case. The time spend talking was well-invested, of course, as I met interesting (and interested) people who have asked me to keep them informed about this and any other projects I might offer.

After setting up the library display and filling my "show me" basket to tote around while distributing info material, I realised that I'd need more examples for the classes themselves. As a result, I've spent quite a lot of time at my workbench creating samples and also refining some of the techniques and projects so they can be completed in a two-hour class. That as been a challenge in some respects, as we will not be working in an art room with sinks and work benches and so forth. Classes will take place in a general purpose room, so it won't be possible to do projects that require a lot of washing up of self and tools. (I'm hoping I'll get a dedicated group together, so we can meet elsewhere and do painty and gluey things...)

I've also sorted through my stash and put together a box of papers, images, and bits and pieces for participants to use as starter material. One of the things I'll be doing is showing how to use everyday objects or found objects to work in AB. There is little choice here in any case, as goodies and rubber stamps and the like are only available in Berlin or further south or by mail order. I'll then encourage participants to bring along materials to pool or swap.

Today I need to finish off several more detailed flyers for individual projects. Tomorrow I'll print them and the tip sheets and so forth and copy them, ready for distribution in the library and in classes. I also need to cart my tools and supplies to the library and hope they have a cupboard in which I can store them. Whew!

And I was worried someone might think I wasn't doing enough....?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fish AB spread

Here is another of the "easy-as-pie" examples from the Fish AB. I've done several other spreads in the meantime, and I'll photograph and process them later today or sometime tomorrow.

At the moment I feel as though I have a production line running, what will all the examples I'm working on and all the instruction sheets I'm preparing. Whew!

I promise to show more eye-candy (and on amore regular basis) soon.

Library Project - 16 February

Flyers, flyers everywhere! These photos are a few days old, now, but I've only just got around to uploading them.

Earlier in the week I spent two evenings folding flyers ads for the project. Since then I've spend hours and hours tramping around town distributing them. Anyone who has ever distributed flyers knows how difficult that can be. I carry a few examples of art with me, too, so I can show them when asked what the project is about.

The main thing is to get the first classes filled. I'm sure the rest will fill by word of mouth. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Fish AB

I'm busy putting together a small selection of AB work for a "taster" exhibition in the library. If luck is with me, two exciting projects will return home in the next week or two, but just in case they don't get here on time, I though it best to rustle up a couple of new AB to show.

One of the new works in progress is a 1914 Cosmos book on Deep Sea Fish. I'll probably put this on display as a work in progress, to show a little of the process as well as the product. I decided to keep the spreads in this book fairly simple, as I think that will seem less daunting to first-timers than some of the more sophisticated, layered spreads in other work.

The original black-and-white drawings in the book are fuzzy and dull by today's standards, so I've perked them up just a little using watercolour pencils. I only tinted the pictures lightly, so the colouring doesn't show up too well in this photo. I reinforced the fish and ocean theme using modern drawings clipped from a children's nature encyclopedia.

I started by masking the drawing then stamping on the page with the alphabet stamp and Stazon ink. With the image still masked, I then tinted the page with several washes of green and blue acrylics. In between washes I added a section of map to the top right corner. The remaining washes helped it blend into the background.

I then colored the image and added the shells and fish and the lighthouse stamps.

I've decided to do quite a lot of edge embellishment in this book, but I'll do it when other pages are ready, so it's not in its final form yet. Here, I added an edge of gold sand, then punched the page to suggest waves rolling onto a beach.

I'll show another page tomorrow and others in the next few days.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pianola Paper Journal

A couple of weeks back, Wendy from the UK kindly sent me some pianola paper - large "ticker tape" style rolls of music that go into barrel organs or automatic pianos. I used part of the roll to make the block for this pocket journal.

My original idea was to thread fibres through the lines of holes to accentuate the notation through color and touch, and you may just be able to make out the threads and the holes in the second image (the back of the pocket journal). However, the paper proved too thin to do threading in the style I first imagined.

I still have a considerable length of paper left, and I'd still like to try the threading. Earlier today I stuck the pianola strip to a sturdier paper and used a paper pricking needle to punch the holes into the new layer, ready to sew. More on that when I've actually done it.

Library Project - 7 February

Be warned: I'm having a little bit of a moan here today. Here we go... I'm glad I have the ability to see some things clearly before they happen; it makes them just that little bit easier to bear when they do.

Yesterday I had a planning meeting to discuss the programme the library would like me to present. The proposal I made contained a sumptuous array of ideas and possibilities that delighted and excited everyone who saw it, including the decision makers in question. Even so, I knew in advance that when make-your-mind-up-time came around I wouldn't be able to persuade them to try everything. But why, why, why, when offered a buffet of delicacies for which you and I and probably any other writer/artist we know would fall on our knees and thank the Divine, do other people still want to eat hamburger and chips/fries, so to speak? The question is, of course, rhetorical.

This is the point at which I'm supposed to say: Oh well, it might have been worse. But this is my blog, and being me, I have to say, it could have been a lot better. They have, at least, opted for Altered Books, which is a blessing, but everything else is at the safe, predicable, and more craft that art end of the spectrum. I hope I'll be able to add some of the more exciting, innovative things further along.

Usually, I only work with adults. Against better judgement and my proclamations to date I eventually agreed to do one AB course for girls aged 16 and above. I did, though, make it clear I would only do it if they can behave, and if they can work independently after instruction and demos. I'll be there to advise and suggest, of course, but I don't want to get into "stick that here" and "draw that there" situations.

So, I have to create a draft flyer today. I'll take it in tomorrow, and then we'll see how long it takes for the flyer to be photocopied. I hope it will only be a 24-hour turnaround job. My fear on that is that my "why wait?" approach will meet with a fairly typical "why hurry?" view of the world.

Sigh. I really could use some things (arty and otherwise) going my way for a change. Sigh.

On another topic: here's something utterly beautiful to look at. Mika sent it to one of our art lists yesterday (thank you so much, Mika). Free up a few undisturbed minutes. Take a look.

Ashes and Snow