Sunday, March 22, 2015

Journal Experiment - Jan 15 to Jan 27

Wait? January? Yes ... because I'm posting these pages sequentially, and waiting till they ripen on the page, i.e. till I've had enough distance from them that I feel comfortable posting them. Today three more pages, when I was just getting the hang of doing them regularly. I'm creating them faster now, so the speed should increase as time passes. Or words to that effect. Here we go:

And the inevitable notes:
Page 1: Jan 15
~ Photo of Barbie feet from a zine I did on anatomy. When I was a child I thought you'd know you were "grown up" when your feet took on this shape. Yep, pretty naive.
~ Page from Scavenger by Seth Fitts, who I discovered at the Sketchbook Project when it was on tour in Vancouver one year. I can't tell you how happy I am when looking at his work. Well, I could, but it might be a little awkward for both of us. You can find more of his amazing work here as well. He's up there with Shaun Tan, Nick Bantock and Joseph Cornell in my own personal artist/star rating system.
~ Child's drawing? No idea whose... came to me in some stuff to use in collage. Probably from my friend Rose who brings me little delights to add to my journals. She knows me so well.

Page 2: Jan 19
~ Random jottings, all me I'm afraid.
~ Save the Humans photo clipped from the newspaper. Taken at the BC Parliament building in Victoria. No idea when ... or by who ... just saved the photo.
~ Rules for Public Library (circa 1930's?) ... another gem from Rose.

Page 3: Jan 23-27
~ 7 books for Downtown Abbey addicts. Heard on the radio, probably CBC. I'd already read The Buccaneers (suggested by Mr. B's Mum years ago and I loved it). Since I enjoy Fay Weldon, I think Habits of the House will be the next likely read.
~ Child Motion Development from a Russian Health Encyclopedia I acquired somewhere. I particularly love Figure 11 (bottom right corner), although I can't say why.
~ Knitted polar bear sweater which is unraveling ... as seen in the building I work in as a GIANT poster, so I went to the Admin office and asked if they had it as a smaller format, which they did. I thought it was the perfect marriage of concepts ... wearing a sweater instead of turning up the furnace, which uses energy which creates global warming which means the ice floes the polar bears depend on are melting/unraveling ... genius. Wish I'd thought of it (or a similarly clever concept).
~ DIY reusable gelli plate ... if you are a gelli plate person and haven't looked at Linda Germain's Printmaking Without a Press blog, you really should. I'm just sayin'.
~ Cube books in a box ... an idea in progress. I mention a class with Roxanne Padgett, one of the top three teachers I ever had at Artfest (which I *still* miss!). She's AMAZING (yes, I'm shouting that). Go look at her stuff here.

It occurs to me it's no bad thing that I'm annotating my journal with online notes here ... like having my actual journal be hyperlinked and searchable for myself. Such a good idea ... so glad I thought of it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Journal Experiment? I think it's a go ...

Well, it seems to be working. The journal experiment, I mean. I'm creating pages on a regular basis ... 2-5 per week, and the more I create the more I want to create. It's a weird thing but I get a real fondness for whatever finds its way into my journal. Kind of like the sum of its parts being greater than the whole. I could chat on forever here, but think I'll just post two more pages and let them do the talking. Here they are:

Notes (sort of inevitable, I guess):
Page 1:
~ The Story Collider: new podcast I've found. Personal stories from the world of science. Very short and listenable. Not as gripping as The Moth or Radiolab, but still good.
~ Assessment of On the Road by Kerouac. Some great poetry, but very much of its era. You have to wade through quite a bit of stuff that is not very woman-friendly and/or thrill-seeking and/or somewhat racist, but there are some great poetic lines. I also have a print copy, so may go through that and see if I can assemble the more poetic stuff into something more concise and less squirm-inducing. Did research online to find out more about him. Intrigued by his method of continuous typing by taping sheets into rolls to not break his creative flow.
~ Yes, my co-worker and I *do* talk about physics and time travel. My knowledge on this: zero, so I tend to go to Mr. B for answers, most of which I also do not understand, but I probably know more than the average bear due to the sheer volume of discussion.
~ Shaun Tan's alphabet for The Arrival? Makes a longer appearance in a future page, so will not add it here.
~ Cariboo Alphabet: long-term ongoing project, turning my childhood experiences into an abecedarian.
Page 2:
~ Tattoo/Mendhi ~ an ad torn from a magazine. Love it! Don't know the magazine or source - sorry!
~ Ideas for this year's Sketchbook Project: O.M.G. Have finally settled on something, similar to this new journal experiment you won't be surprised to hear ... :)
~ Shinto broken needle ceremony, as seen on the smallest forest blog. Not recent, but recent to me. The world is indeed a strange and marvelous place.

Monday, March 02, 2015

A new experiment with journals ...

Been thinking about this for awhile ... how to get back to my everyday journalling the way I did before Pinterest. Don't get me wrong ... i *love* Pinterest, but I miss my old habit of curating, collecting and commenting on the world around me, and having that as a physical resource I can refer back to. I can't tell you how many life-changing insights have come from re-reading old journals. I've been keeping journals since I was 20-ish, so that's a good 30 years of who I was and what I saw, did and felt ... hmmmm ... writing that just made me feel terribly self-centered. Something to think about.

Anyway ... here's the plan: I've decided to post the pages of my 2015 journal online here. Except for this intro I'll try to keep the wordage to a minimum and let the pages speak for themselves. I've never been in the habit of writing very personal things in my journal, but I think I still better leave some lag time between the actual creation of the pages and my posting them here ... sometimes (as with my art) I need a little temporal distance to figure out how personal it is. And there's always the blur function in pic monkey as a backup. :)

So, here are today's images, 2 pages from Dec 29, where I was contemplating the form my new journal would take. FYI, I've always worked in 5.5 x8.5 size, and this new journal is somewhat larger. You'll see why when you read page 2. And off we go ...

*NOTES* - Top half of page 2 are Miriam Wosk's inspiration books as shown in her book Sequins and Skeletons. You can look at some of her scrapbooks and a video of her at work here.

More pages to follow, and on a more regular basis, too. I promise.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Origami postcard project ...

Hmmm ... been a while since I posted anything here ... here's what's on my desk this evening ...

Finishing up some postcards for a postcard swap, and using up what's on my desk, including a package of 2"x2" neon origami squares. They've been hanging around awhile and I thought it was time to turn them into art. I had no clear plan when I started these, just trusted that something would happen as I went along.

One thing that happened is that I kept wanting to add *more* stamping to fill in the emptyish bits. As in more stamping than I would normally do. I thought it might be fun to show you all the "steps" as they came to me. A few words about stamps ... I have a lot of them, but I tend to a) buy them on sale and b) not buy any set that doesn't have at least one stamp that I think I'll be able to use on multiple projects. It was kind of fun to "shop" through my stamp collection for just the perfect little thing.

For those who *really* want to know, here are the stamp sets I used ~ and just one stamp from each set.
Step 2: Stitching from Kelly Panacci / Sandy Lion's Clear Borders.
Step 3: Sun from Farm House Paper Company's Fair Skies Dusk.
Step 4: is from ... uh oh ... clear alphabet set I received as a gift ... not sure of the origin.
Step 5: Text Strip from Prima's Christina Renee My Rose set.
Step 6: Flourish from Penny Black's Dancing Deer set.

For those who know me, these are not the usual colours I work in ... but the contrast of the bright neon origami papers seemed to really need that crisp black in the stamps. These postcards are heading off to Tangie Baxter's Art Journal Emporium's postcard swap at the beginning of March ... good to have them done!

That's all for now ... planning to post some of my day to day journal pages soon. I've been re-inspired by seeing some other people's working journals and thinking it might be time to share ... more to come!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Do you hear what I hear?

So ... right off the top, this is not about Christmas music. *Really* not about Christmas music. Christmas music is why I stay out of stores this time of year so I won't have to tear my ears off or hit anyone. Just sayin'.

So, what is this about? Podcasts, audiobooks and stuff. Ever since I got my ipad (which Mr. B. declared to be the "modern 25th anniversary present"), I've been up to my ears ~ literally ~ in good listening. Funny how it turns out that I'm not using the ipad for the things I thought I would, but it's become indispensable in other, mostly audible, ways. And so much of what I listen to makes me so very happy ... gives me hope, educates me, engages my brain ... all that good stuff. I thought I'd share a few of my favourites:

Podcastly, two of my favourites from the very beginning have been Good Job, Brain! and Books on the Nightstand.

Good Job, Brain! is like sitting around with a couple (okay, four) good friends and just having fun with trivia and quizzes. Not sure how I found them, but I eventually went back and listened to their entire archive. Initially I thought they were "young folks", but I'm starting to think they might be older than they sound, but it makes me feel young to listen. Oh, and every fifth podcast is an "all quiz" ... those are my favourite episodes. Makes me feel *so* smart when I know stuff.

Books on the Nightstand is the private project of Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman. They both work in the publishing industry, so they've often got the inside scoop on new books, but they're not afraid to go back a few years and talk about their favourites as well. It's a half hour of booky goodness. And if you're on Goodreads, there's a Books on the Nightstand group there, too, so it's easy to keep track of what they've talked about.

Now we get serious. When I want something meaty to chew on, it's usually Radiolab or 99% Invisible.

I heard about Radiolab in a weird way: one day I was browsing at Regional Assembly of Text, and I gradually became aware the "music" in the background was not music at all but this seriously interesting discussion of ... ideas, culture, humour ... with a soundtrack and comments. I had to sit and listen for a few minutes. Eventually I asked at the front counter: "Um ... what radio station IS this?", and was told it was the Radiolab podcast. Made immediate note to myself: get some kind of device that could listen to podcasts. Done.

Not sure how I heard about 99% Invisible ... I think it turned up on the ipad's recommended list once I started listening to Radiolab. Got addicted to "99PI" (as they call themselves) really quickly. Theoretically it's about design, but it's a pretty broad ranging definition. This week's episode is about the birth of the octothorpe, or as you might know it: the hashtag. They really pack a lot of interesting stuff into their usual 15-20 minute episodes.

I've backed 99PI twice now through Kickstarter - once to help them go from a monthly podcast to a weekly (so worth it!), and the next time to help them add more similar podcasts to Radiotopia, their new venture ~ and I pretty much love all those podcasts, too. Strangers just had a riveting 4-part series "Love Hurts" on the host's failed relationships (so much more positive than that sounds, I promise). The Truth (Movies for Your Ears) just had a great Christmas story about an elf really not adjusting to his job of judging children naughty or nice at Santa, Corp. There's more, but let's start with those two.

And (of course), there's The Moth. Which is all about storytelling. As in: people get up on stage in front of a live audience, and without notes, tell a story from their lives. Three people, three stories, linked by a common theme. Absolutely riveting. 

One of the other audio treats I've discovered is BBC4 Extra Online Radio. I'm finally getting a university education ~ the easy way! They serialize wonderful classic books as radioplays. I'm currently listening to Wilkie Collins' No Name, something I'd never heard of before, but really enjoying. Last week, it was George Elliot's Adam Bede, and earlier this fall it was Thomas Hardy's Two on a Tower. Not that it's all serious stuff ... the first series I listened to this summer was Charles Chilton's Journey Into Space, a highly *improbable* tale of pseudo-science fiction manliness from the 1950's. They're currently also running Doctor Who, Adrian Mole and Master and Commander. The episodes run every day, and they recently extended the listening period from 7 days to 21 days (yay!). Great companion in the studio.

Audiobook-wise, I'm taking full advantage of Overdrive, the electronic app that delivers the Vancouver Public Library's ebooks and audiobooks to my ipad. There's a 21-day borrowing limit, which certainly helps keep me focused. Currently listening to Kerouac's On the Road, and David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed in Flames ~ how's that for variety?

Not sure how many people know this, but there are full audiobooks posted on YouTube as well. Discovered Andy Weir's The Martian on YouTube and could not *wait* to find out what happened next and listened obsessively. I've also listened to the *entire* Game of Thrones series on YouTube because the waitlist through Overdrive was *too long*.

And when I'm exhausted by all that reading? I tune my ipad to Songza, choose a soothing playlist, set the timer to 30 minutes and drift off to sleep ...

Friday, November 21, 2014

The evolution of a project ...

Last September I wrote about the evolution of an idea. Today's post is about how a project grew from seeing something that piqued my creative curiosity to hosting a collaborative project inspired by it and eventually developing a teachable class.

It started with this: London, A Three-Dimensional Expanding City Skyline by Sarah McMenemy. I found this book (surprise!) in London. There was something so lovely about it  - how it folded out so big (over three feet long when extended) and condensed to something so small (just over 4" x 4.5"). And then there's the colours, the sights featured (been there! done that!), the die cut skyline, the extra pop-up bits - yum! Looking this up on Amazon I see she's done other locations as well: Paris, New York, Berlin, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (oh my!).

When I got  home I put it away, as one often does with the little treasures of travel, but it popped into my mind 6 months ago while looking for the next collaborative for the Vancouver Artist Card Group (of which I am the humble organizer). I organize 2-3 collaboratives a year for the group ~ I think it would be shame to have a group of creatives together and not *do* something. So I took out the expanding London and tried to condense it (if you will pardon the pun) into something a group could manage, and something I could create instructions for. Then I created a prototype, which looked like this:

I thought it looked like a fun and do-able group project. I particularly enjoyed creating the backs of the houses with bicycles and recycling bins, as you can see above. So ... I created a set of instructions, a set of templates for possible house shapes and went off to the next ATC group meeting with sign-up sheet in hand. I had a good response from the group, and (as I was hoping) they got creative in a whole bunch of ways ~ from houses with onion-shaped roofs, to cars in the driveway and lots of other little details. Here's the collaborative village ...

One day, I was chatting with Sue Farrant, who hosts the Paper Angels Art Retreat twice a year, and she asked me what I'd been up to and I dug out the Accordion Village collaborative and she got this twinkle in her eye and said: How would you feel about developing this into a class for the next retreat? She told me Stampin' Up had a new set of stamps and dies in house shapes that would be perfect for this. I hesitated a little. It's been awhile since I taught an actual "class". I mean, I teach *all the time* at the ATC group, but it's just chatting with friends, so there's not much pressure. Then she showed me the paper she had in mind for the project and it was so deliciously wintery without being Christmassy (long story) that I pretty much had to go for it. And so I did (how's that for condensing a very long story into a very short one? Lol).

And here's the result ...
I taught the class at the November Paper Angels Retreat, and I'm very pleased to say that all ten students left with something looking very much like the prototype ... each with their own individual twist on decoration, mind you, which is another concern I had ... I'm all about everyone finding their voice and while I knew the important thing was to teach the structure (accordion book), I *really* wanted them to see how flexible this project is when it comes to personal taste. The stamp set itself is *very* flexible. In fact, the weekend before the retreat, on Hallowe'en night (we have zero trick-or-treaters in our neighbourhood, so I was completely undisturbed) I made a Hallowe'en version:
The stamp set not only has wintery and Christmassy things, it also has bats, a ghost and spidery cobweb.  A simple change of paper colours, and the whole thing looks completely different. For the Hallowe'en village I made backs for the houses using what I call my "brayer layers" ~ the leftovers where I clean my brayer on Reader's Digest text pages while playing with my Gelli plate. In my studio nothing goes to waste! And the die cuts made it easy to do ~ no fussy cutting of shapes ~ bonus!

So, there you are ... from inspiration to collaboration to instruction in three steps. And for those of you who're interested ... I created a 12-page full-colour step-by-step instruction book for the project, and I've also got Winter Village kits using the same papers we used in the class (as shown in the Winter Village photos above). The kits have everything pre-stamped and pre-cut, and include all the trimmings so you can make your own winter village. The books by themselves are $10 and the totally ready-to-go kits (including a book) are $25, postage included. Just send me an email and let me know if you're interested.

And that whole teaching thing? Yep ... guess I'll be doing more of that ... there's another Paper Angels retreat coming up in the spring, and if Sue asks me ... I've already got ideas dancing in my head ... you might want to watch this blog for more info ...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sketchbooks revisited ... part two: cover stories

Ever have those days when you're attracted to a particular colour palette? Brown kraft + black + white has always been my thing anyway, and it certainly doesn't hurt that the original covers on the Sketchbook Project Sketchbooks are that nice earthy brown to start with. In my own contributions to The Sketchbook Project, I've never been able to resist covering up everything with colour, but I find all the above covers unspeakably beautiful and oh so wish that I'd come up with them myself.

Left to right on the top row we have: Simple Beautiful Things by Staci Adman, Atlas of Turning 50 by Robin Matthews and Fox + Owl by Shawna Handke
Left to right on the bottom there's: i no longer feel the need to ask permission by kelly letky, untitled by therese murdza and untitled by artist unknown (sorry!).

Staci Adman's Simple Beautiful Things is all it says it is. I highly encourage you to look at the whole book online. I posted one of it's pages, Fall vs. Summer Honey, in my previous post, but truly every single page is quite, quite amazing and made me want to rush home immediately and journal all my little treasures with a similar care and magic. And notice the lovely little beads along the spine - simple AND beautiful!

Fox + Owl is a lovely work of torn text page collage and paint by Shawna Handke. Some pages are breathtakingly beautiful and it would be a tragedy if they weren't seen by more people, so go there now.

Kelly Letky's i no longer feel the need to ask permission is a great example of how to marry striking natural images with deep personal poetry. I felt like I was reading a work that ought to be published for a wider audience.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it barely begins to cover the tactile satisfaction of therese murdza's untitled. omg. I *so* did not want to let this book go. The combination of crunchy gesso, text page collages and simple mark making had me envious at first sight. Why oh why do I fill my sketchbooks with complex cerebral ideas when something like this is so gobsmackingly delicious?

I feel bad about not getting the info on the last book. Up to this point in the day I'd been studiously taking pictures of the back cover of each book, and noting whether or not it was digitized for your viewing pleasure, but I guess the sketchbooks were flying thick and fast and I didn't make a note of the author's name on this one, for which I am truly sorry. I tried finding it on the Sketchbook Project website, but either it wasn't digitized, or wasn't tagged with a searchable word. The book was a touching story of a woman whose mother chose medical denial for what was (by the author's judgement) a 98% treatable kind of cancer. It was a hard read in some ways ... but unable to talk to her mother about her hopes and frustrations, I like to think by telling all of us, she was letting go of things in her own beautiful way. I'll keep looking and see if I can find it online, but (ironically?) the odds aren't good.

Okey, dokey ... time for a little colour! Top left: Encyclopedia of Sharks - Part XI by Pascal Lecocq. Okay ... so Part XI isn't digitized, but some of his previous shark encyclopedias are. If sharks are your thing, I'd start with the first one, and then you can work your way through Parts 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. You don't have to, and of course they're about more than sharks. I just loved his cover, so blue blue blue in a sea of brown (if you'll pardon the pun).

Top right is Atlas of My Dreams by Sonja NYC. I was immediately amazed by the use of thread on the Australian coast on the cover. I pretty much love anything that incorporates fiber in unexpected ways and this was beautifully done. The inner content never mentions Australia, instead it features Alice in Wonderland and sea creatures. Mysterious ...

Bottom left is Greetings from South Africa by Mieke van der Merwe ~ a cover (and book) that shouts it's beautiful detail from start to finish. I know very little about South Africa but this book's lovely colourful  line drawings and paintings of buildings, people, cameras and condiments (condiments?!) makes me want to go there.

Lastly, bottom right, is Map of the Table by Bonnie Hull. Now this is truly a case of not judging a book by its cover. I loved the cover right off ... triangular duct-tape snow-covered mountains, running along a duct-tape road, looking up to a fabulous blue duct-tape sky ... wonderful and tactile ... and absolutely no hint on the cover that inside there's a quirky string of simple line drawings of ... stuff on tables. A sense of the everyday  captured on various tables at various times ... tax time, breakfast time, meeting time, dinner time. I almost saved this one for my next post on fabulous inspiring line drawings, but since this post is about covers, the cover won out.

More next time ...