Paper Obstacles


The Sketchbook Project

It’s been  a while since I checked in with you guys on this project, I’ve had to overcome a few obstacles along the way.

I had a really clear idea what I wanted to do with this book from (almost) the outset last year – a rambling whirl of doodles, a stream of consciousness running through the pages. Then I got ill, and the heavy duty pain medication I had in hospital inspired me with a really clear visual I wanted to recreate. As best I could, two-dimensionally on paper.

I began the line work back during Inktober, and looking back I remember at the time being aware of just how thin and flimsy the paper is in the book. I mean, super thin. It would hold up well to gentle care but I’m heavy handed and (because it’s all I had to hand and impatience is my biggest motivator in all I do) I used ballpoint pen. So my pages were already crinkling from the indentation of the lines.

That’s cool – it adds character – it’s my ‘style’ – go with it, I thought.

Sure.

I delayed the coloring stage until I finally got my new watercolors I’d been so eager to use.

Then the holidays, then life, then I finally began.

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this paper soaks up watercolor like a sponge.

 

Oh. My. Days!

You do NOT wanna use watercolors on this paper. Of course if I hadn’t been so hung up on the combination of:

This Sketchbook Project + These Colors + These Paints = Exactly What I Want To Do

then perhaps I wouldn’t have been temporarily blind the reality of:

This Medium + This Paper = A Certain Soggy Mess.

 

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Soaked right through to the other side 😦

 

Damnit!

Ok, I’m an adaptable kinda person, I pride myself on being able to change direction, to adjust and adapt.

Acrylics, I thought. Acrylics are the answer. They will sit on top of the paper and give it a bit more substance as well.

 

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Look at that paper curl! It seems I  have angered the book now.

 

Nope. Not only is it a streaky mess, but the pages are actually curling up in disgust.

What do they want from me? light, delicate pencil? Do they know me AT ALL??

I heard a distant memory jangling about in the back of my mind – are there rules on what media we’re to use?  – checking the website: sure, acrylics & gesso are discouraged because the pages get sticky and … yes, yes, I know all this

So, my first plan of watercolor was back on the table – because, when I read onwe are allowed to rebind the book.  I can use actual watercolor paper!   

Now that time was getting squeezed, that forever-away-distant deadline was getting closer…  I decided that keeping it simple was the best way forward. The elaborate plans I had to begin are on hold for a separate project later in the year, meanwhile I’m back with what I know best for the pages of this book: the idea that is fuelling my creativity and has done for a long while now: an adventure in 12 colors!

After all, it’s my thing, right?

My pages are complete and ready for binding, I’ll show the finished book as soon as I get some good light for photos – then it’ll be winging it’s way off to Brooklyn Art Library


If you want to be first to see what I’m making, and get exclusive discounts on these things, clickety-hop aboard my email list right here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be wrapped up snug and nestled with a hot water bottle & a kitten until the spring arrives.

 

because


because a squillion things need doing.

because my eyes have soaked in so much color lately.

because time-lapse is the most fun thing in world.

 

today I made this:

almost completely (50/52)


Every week this year I’ve worked on one page of this art journal.

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There’s a poignancy to the last pages of a book, a wanting to eke out the fun….

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mixed with a readiness to move on to new projects.
Oh so many new projects lined up!

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This is an almost complete page of the almost complete book….

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We’re so close to the end now I’m going to save the completed page until I can show you the whole book at once 🙂

evolution in paint chaos 34/52


Week 34 into the year, and this page was a struggle. Like they always do, it started out with scraps of I don’t know what.

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Some scrubby paint, some leftover unwanted collage snips. Beginning at the familiar stage of: ‘Meh… but this will get buried. It will come good. See what happens’

Color usually helps…

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Hmmm… more collage? … oil pastels?

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What? What’s happening? It’s getting more chaotic.
White a load of this out, more collage, regroup:

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The enthusiasm  from that chirpy thumbs up is misplaced, and it’s psyching me out. It has to go. Smothering with color: that’s the way forward. Just follow the shapes

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Looking back this would have been an adequate stopping point, but I remember thinking It just needs turquoise: that will sort it.
And then a lot of layers later…

It went on and on.

It went on and on a bit like this:

Even now I’ve declared it done I don’t love it. This is the first one that seems to have beaten me. I guess being beaten at a rate of 1 in 34 – I’m cool with that. Another new week begins tomorrow. Time for a change of strategy.

Courage, Faith, Trust. 33/52


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Scribbled things. Filled in with nonsense and part heard words

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Dabs, daubs, splosh. Dragged, drawn out, drawn on.

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And more, and further. Anemones? meteors? Some frenzied chaos. (I honestly don’t know.)

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But as usual, I like the details best of all  

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The title for this week – Courage, Faith, Trust – came from the same-named scrap of paper that got itself collaged into the frenzy. (it appeared a week early, as it’s numbered 34) but it also calls up the essence of this practice. Courage, Faith and Trust in the process:

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Keep showing up, don’t plan, don’t expect, just keep doing and making and going. And all will be well.

Newest Obsession: Chapter One


Since way back in the earliest days of exploring mixed media online, through the vast and wondrous wealth of blogs, the treasures and techniques that ppl share on YouTube, I’ve often come across folks doing this thing called altered books.

I’m going to lay it on the line here: it’s made me think Huh?

Sure there are some glorious creations, some splendid transformations, some real delights.

But it hasn’t ever struck me as a thing I’d find myself doing. (Although I watched a good few YouTube things on how it’s done. I gleaned information, and unbeknown to me, my brain squirreled it away.)  Okay, so, fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.

IMG_4444The strangest thing: I must have reached one of those tipping points, inspiration had hit critical mass and I had to begin this new project. There was a sense of driven urgency that was singing in my head:

Find me a knackered book, I am compelled to bring it new life!!

One of my rescue books – too shabby to donate and yet somehow too good for the recycling bin – I’d maybe thought I’d read it some day, but I’ve got to be a realist just sometimes. I love books, I have many, but the pile waiting to be read is growing faster than the rate I consume them.

So the lonely third volume of Somerset Maugham’s short stories was about to be re-purposed into my newest obsession full of colour and faces and meanings.

I’ll show you how it’s coming on over the next while.

Meanwhile here’s a little peak ….

 

the other side of the ugly (18/52)


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Yesterday I was sharing about the ugly side of creativity. When it’s in that worse before it gets better zone.

The only way outa here is forward: Charge on forward through this zone.

If you can’t carry on right now, let it rest.Let it settle.

When you come back it’s going to look different:
—If it looks better – let this spur you on in hope.
—If it looks worse – take the nothing left to lose impetus to make changes:

Whatever you’re creating, from a painting to a song, a novel or a dance, a dress or a manifesto, try any variations of these things:

  • Paint over it.
  • Mix up the harmonies.
  • Cut it up and reconfigure the bits together in a new shape.
  • Record over sections of it.
  • Photograph it from obtuse angles: review it through the viewfinder, on screen, through squinting eyes, or print its negative.
  • Speed it up, slow it down, add trumpets.
  • Change two of the colours.
  • Stitch, glue, staple, splice. Rinse and repeat.
  • Play it backwards / turn it upside down / inside out.
  • Take out every other word, or every other adjective, or swap about all the words beginning with vowels.
  • Pick it up by the ears and shake it hard.

Do some radical dismantling, recreate with hope and a conscious understanding it’s only wrong at the moment; it’s maybe uncomfortable but it isn’t doomed.

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Know that you’re through the worst because if you’re moving you’re making progress: It was the ugliest thing in existence, so by logical deduction it must be getting better, right?

Right. Then keep on going. If the bigger picture is freaking you out,

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Just look at the detail…

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Find some solace there, some shhhhhsome calm

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Befriend the details. Examine them closely for inexplicable creatures.

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The only thing not to do is sit and dwell on how a different course of action somewhere in the past would have made it different. That then is gone. Focus on the now of it.

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Then see where you find yourself, recombobulate, know the process works, and carry on.

Long Time Week (13/52)


One quarter of the year through: meet week 13.

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Compared with the last few, this was an uncomplicated page: dragged paint and organic in its making, a lightly tribal vibe. Muted.

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But as a collection of 7 days in my life it’s been brimming to overflow (hence less time to spend in this book).

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I’ve been reading Caroline Myss. She’s directed some of my thoughts to a place I haven’t visited in a long while, it’s been both refreshing and nostalgic.

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It’s a page that crossed months: March over to April, so has the intentions I set for April. This time open ended wishes, based around the tone of climate I’m wanting to head toward next: Contentment, Progress, Stability, Fun, Restfulness. I think that has it covered for the immediate!