Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bon Voyage Little Books!

Copies of "Rowing Boat" set sail from my local Post Office Saturday morning. Got to fill out several customs forms! I'll be curious to learn how quickly these arrive at their Italian, Canadian, Australian, Californian, Ohio and New York destinations!
This was fun, though I focussed so entirely on structure and the desire to play/work with the sculptural or object side of the matter, the book itself doesn't seem to count.
Goodbye little books!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Artist book for client

I'm so lucky to occasionally get a request to make someone a one-of-a-kind book. This one, almost completed, is for a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The husband, a true romantic, has crafted a poem from a batch of love letters the couple exchanged back in the early 1960s when they were courting. I've taken the poem and some pictures from that time (of the couple) and put them together in a flag book. As usual, I struggle with execution and waste. I have to make the book over and over (because I can't seem to measure and visualize). This is the final. It's close but I think if I could do it again (and why not?) I'd make it a lot messier. Not knowing the couple (everything's been done via email), I'm not convinced they'd like that.  I would like the structure to be as romantic as the impulse, as the lovers themselves.

Rowing Boat Update

Group 7! I was excited to open my first book from Gene Epstein a few days ago. A lovely take on "Delicate." Thanks, Gene. Will you post a photo of your book here?

I've been pondering and avoiding the "Rowing Boat" Book Art Object project for months now caught up on the boat structure. I know I'm missing something obvious, but after trolling for boat making directions--- finding cute ones for real row boats and origami instructions for boat-like structures--- and making clumsy clay and foam core structures, I've determined to follow my attraction to the abstract notion of a vessel. This decision is based on the stash of floral wire and wrap I found in a drawer and the lessening of frustration experienced while making these. On the spiritual front, it is pleasurably meaningful to shape them between the palms of my hands.

My next step is to tear into the old journals. In doing this, I find passages that are worth "sending out to dry" but which don't work with the original structure, which is a coptic bound book. Doing this means cutting up pages and getting any narrative out of order. Instead, I'm counting on my old favorite, the meander, so that lucky readers will get one page, front and back. I find I do want to send even a fragment of a story rather than the rain of words I thought would "do."

The covers are chipboard covered with paste paper scraps from the yards of same I've been making this summer.

More and more soon. They are coming.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

2012 New project "Rowing Boat" artist book

Rowing Boat

So far, I’ve “researched” rowing boats, discovering that the simple row boat is not the only option: I’ve got kayakes, canoes, dinghies, skulls and probably even more. Or not. I see that most of those just mentioned depend on paddling, not rowing.

At the beginning of every project, I am at my most literal. Abstractions grow later. In my sketch book, I’m teaching myself to draw rowboats, borrowing heavily from photographs and instructional drawing books. With the Art Institute’s library within easy reach, that’s a lot of instruction.

The writing component is trickier for me just now because I don’t have a text of any relevance handy, which means writing one. I trust this will emerge from the freewriting and “coincidences” bound to reach me as I ponder the project. In fact, I recently took a workshop in developing intuition through imagination (see and one of the exercises involved describing, in great detail, a boat. This exercise alone could be a small artist book. It well may be.

When I’m not pondering the images or the text, I’m playing with the structure. If the boat is in movement, I want a book that moves. One of my favorite structures is a “meander” book, a folded sheet that yields 32 pages. There are pivotal pages that literally turn the book around. I’ve always wanted to focus movement on those pages.

Finally, there’s an idea/practice I’m committed to which involves using, as material, pages from the many many journals I’ve kept since 1967.  I want to re-use, recycle and re-invent these pages before I die or have to throw them away because they won’t fit into my cell at the old folk’s home.  They are, mercifully, no longer precious. They have become the sea upon which my little boat floats.

Here are some pages from my sketchbook.

Group 7 “Rowing Boat”

Friday, February 3, 2012

I must be doing something right

Up until this ferocious Winter Quarter, I would have said a successful class was one without friction. After this week's temper tantrum and foot stamping (all the way to Dean's office), essentially the fifth (counting my own) in less than a month, I am left grinning. With so much passion about, I must be doing something right. After all, the goal this time is for me to teach my students how to think. Given the wails of protest and confusion, I might as well be midwifing 25 individual births.

But yesterday, as I headed in with a "stomach," I was shocked to be greeted by several smiling faces and possibly sincere greetings. Had they all gotten laid the night before?

Thursday is Right Brain Day, which is always fun. We did an intuitive exercise and then, again to my surprise, they all wanted to discuss it as a group and share their writing and insights. Many had taken the descriptive part of the exercise to a different level by creating poems. The temper girl, her defenses rivaling the US Dept. of Defense, provided great insight into nearly everyone's readings. The students at this school have a remarkable ability to support each other. It's a bit of grace that seems to glow from within. No one seems to mention it or brag about it; I hope the larger administration never notices it, because it's truly lovely just the way it is.

Maybe temper flameouts, confrontations and anger is not a recipe for failure. Maybe, like pepper, it's a simple ingredient.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Let the Quarter Begin

I'm teaching full-time this first quarter of 2012 (and then some.) A fullish load at the Art Institute, a monthly course at the online school and a weekly look-in at GPC. In between classes today, I interviewed an engineer for my foreign biz client. I have neglected my local biz client. Artomats are taking a hit as well. I know some people seem to thrive on schedules like this. In fact, if I'd worked this hard in my 20s or even 30s, it probably wouldn't seem like such a challenge now. Still, despite how slowly I seem to get on, the working day is a darn sight better nowadays without the anxiety of youth.

Am currently investigating the phrase "Rowing Boats."  It's the title I selected for my contribution to Book Arts Object. First step is often to free-associate for what comes from within. I didn't do this to any degree yet; instead, I checked for the symbolism of the rowboat. Hard work on your own terms and in your own time. Such a coincedence!

Book plan: small meander (2x3'' or 4x5" closed)
character: the boat itself if I can draw one with a personality and its oars.
Setting(s): in the hands of its creator, afloat, struggling in waves, beached, rocks, turned over

This sounds like a children's picture book. Also sounds like the Sisyphus book and text. We'll see.
This morning a student used the phrase "Whatever floats your boat."  Maybe something there.
I'll ponder this as I work out my skills in drawing a traveling boat.
More as it happens!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Resolution: Book Art Object

The key to a happy New Year's Eve Resolution is to get it over with the first week of the year.
One of my "resolutions" (aka suggestions) is to contribute to at least four book arts shows or events. Happily, the Book Arts Listserve keeps me supplied with Calls for Submissions. 2012's first is a kind of round robin of limited editions between members of the Book Art Object community. (BAO is a blog community in Australia. Click link for more info)

It seems a bit complicated but isn't. I don't think. The drill for this year's editioning was to pick a title from one of 100 short story titles in a book project by Sarah Bodman entitled An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen.
As instructed, I selected three titles and was assigned my second choice, "Rowing Boats."  
Not sure why I chose this title, but I delight in word combinations and especially enjoy playing with verbs as nouns, etc. I haven't been near a rowboat in decades so I doubt my interpretation will be literal but who knows? It's good to have something to play with.