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.