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:

Altered Thinking


I’m away from home and away from this blog for a few weeks… I’m missing my studio but I know in my absence the ideas are bottling up and there will be opportunity for outpouring before too long. Meanwhile I’ve had time to ponder on where I’m at, and how I got here. From here I can figure out where to go next!

In all my experiments and adventures with mixed media art, there’s usually something that takes me by surprise.

Something amid this endless opportunities to combine, dismantle, re-imagine, reconstruct, with new permutations of media, materials, techniques and style – way more than any  one person could exhaust in one lifetime. Sometimes I forget this though. Then I forage around online for ideas, and something amazing happens.

ephemeralGecko_HappySmile.jpg

Take, for instance, the concept of an altered book.

I grew up in a home full of books, maybe the last generation for whom this primary source of information, books hold a sense of reverence. Over the years I sought sanctuary in books, a hiding place, a wonder world of mysteries, of dreams and spirits, of characters too colourful to exist outside. A key that unlocks the worlds within another’s imagination, in the words of Stephen King, ‘books are uniquely portable magic’.

I can honestly say, some of my best friends have been books.

So then, altering books…. Although I’ve seen some truly exquisite sculptural paper-folding from books, and some ingenious creations, something still felt uncomfortable. Something made me wince just a little bit. And I know I’m not alone in this.

It was when I saw Brian Dettmer’s TED Talk that my thoughts became altered too. He describes the art of book altering as reinvention, as comparable to a DJ remixing music. He compares books to bodies – living creatures –  with a capability to evolve, and as a parallel to the expansion of painting and drawing beyond simple reproduction after the invention of the printing press and the camera, now perhaps books have a freedom to be more than what they were before.

What I did here is nothing like the art that Dettmer makes, his talk opened my mind to more possibility. It liberated my thoughts.

In the resonance of his words I felt my thinking shift from ‘…but why?’ through stages of creeping curiosity, a crescendo of allure to the new level of possibility. These thoughts were gathering momentum to the level of irresistible fascination. Fuelled by online tutorials and videos, with a tatty orphaned volume of short stories I set out to see what would happen with paint, pens and collage cuttings…

ephemeralGecko_Serendipity.jpg

After just a short time I found the spirit of the exercise had taken hold: part drawn, part collaged, pieces fell into place alongside doodles and paint splatters. My eye would catch a fleeting glimpse before the sentences were lost under colour. Patterns and ideas formed organically

ephemeralGecko_Serendipity2.jpg

All of my habitual ways were finding their place in this new sanctuary for busy thoughts. With no expectations I set about seeing what serendipity would surprise me with, and I watched the layers build up. It was becoming an illustrated stream of consciousness. The book was developing a character all of its own.

ephemeralGecko_Serendipity3.jpg

I worked on this book over the course of a few months, skipping back and forth through the pages with paint or pastels, doodles and drawing. This is where I went when my ideas ran dry – there was always a space to fill and patterns to follow. Ideas fed on ideas.

So the lesson I learnt from this project is that the spirit of a book isn’t just caught up in the meaning behind its text, a book is much greater than its story.

You can see this completed book in three parts, here

imaginary animals


Some of the characters I collected in my camera at the V&A last week, having filtered through my imagination, turned up in my art journal.

IMG_7135

As they evolved along the way,

IMG_7136

some got a little lost under the layers.

IMG_7143

faces merge animals and human,

IMG_7152

some characters from other projects join them.

IMG_7153

As the weekend wore on,

IMG_7168

the colours developed

IMG_7171

The doodles built up

IMG_7173

The tribe became established on the page

IMG_7170.jpg

I can’t think of any meditation I enjoy more than getting lost in patterns and colours.

 

 

Heart Wide Open 3 of 3


IMG_5946

The final chapter of the book

“I believe in the good things coming…
More pages more words to my story,
More grace, more meaning unfoldin’…
Everything’s already 
alright,
Everything’s already alright…”

~ Nahko Bear

Find all the book here……………..

~ Part 1
~ Part 2
~ Part 3

Heart Wide Open :: Part 2


 

IMG_5651.jpg

Yesterpost I showed you the first of three chapters of my book. So without any further fussing, here’s the next one.

 

~ Part 1
~ Part 2
~ Part 3

 

The Year of the Heart Wide Open


 

Earlier this year I embarked on an art project that crept up on me and took me unaware. I didn’t see its approach – no rustling in the background – no warning at all.

One moment it wasn’t there at all in my world, then BOOM it was there: front and centre in my field of attention, large as life, impatient to be made. Suddenly the biggest most important messy painty colorful thing in my life was this book

The Complete Short Stories of W Somerset Maugham (volume 3).

bookI’m not sure where it came from, but somewhere down the line I rescued this shabby orphaned volume from an uncertain fate.

It’s destiny now was to become an ingredient for ART.

Along with the stacks of magazines I set to work on filling the book with colour and collage.

Over the course of a few months this book became my retreat from the doubts and the obstacles in the outside world. When ideas weren’t showing up for me, I dove into the book and let my unconscious put together shapes and words. When in doubt, play.

I’ve shown you some of the developmental stages already, but now the book has got to a point I’m calling pretty much finished I thought you might like to see it altogether in a flip through.

The song, from whence I adopted this title, is by Winterbloom* and is in the movie Indie Kindred. *since I put together the video a couple of months ago the Winterbloom website seems to have fallen off the interwebz. Such is the constant moving and changing of the world. 

When I watched the film this song got caught up in the wheels of my mind. It’s all about creative collaborations and the mutual support of the tribe, which mirrored a lot of what’s been going on for me lately. And this year I have felt my life open up to a new phase. This book is one of its illustrations.

With more than 40 pages the flip is separated into 3 episodes. I’ll share them over the next few days by way of something bright and fun as my holiday gift to you, dear digital friends. With much love X

~ Part 1
~ Part 2
~ Part 3

 

 

 

Chapter Next: The Letter


Another week, another page in the altered book to show you.

I notice sometimes when I’m working on a project, just how little control I have. It’s not that I don’t know where it’s going, I’m not even steering the way. It’s going its own course and I’m simply wielding the brush or the pen or the whatever-it-is.

Some sort of external force does all the decision making. It took my inner control freak a long while to learn to rest back and let this happen. (Sometimes she worries so. I distract her with thoughts of cheese and music and cushions. She chills, we move on)

This page was a bit of a hotch-potch til the latter stages when it seemed to start coming together.

IMG_4188

See what I mean?

I mean it’s not lost it’s hotch-potchery vibe, but I feel like it’s crossed the line from uncoordinated chaos to cohesive vision. Although you aren’t seeing what will be the finally finished thing, it’s a large part of the way there. More again soon.

Chapter Next: Mirage


Some the pages in my altered book are already conveniently titled. The book began as an orphaned volume of short stories, and some of the tales’ titles just appealed too much to cover up.

IMG_4154

Doesn’t Mirage just conjure such magic?

I haven’t embarked on any of these pages with a plan. Planning just isn’t in my spirit. I didn’t get that gene.

So to begin I just do something, and let that define where it wanders next. The first something that happened on this page took the form of sprinkles of Brusho swept about in circles with a wet brush. IMG_41541

Oh my how I love how these dusty crystals explode with colour. This stuff is the definition of less is more. More than a wee bit makes for a super rich gravy of an ink, which is gorgeous, but when you use an imperceptibly itsy amount each tiny trace of this magic erupts into zingy pigment on contact with moisture.

It is more than gorgeous. It is actual magic.

IMG_41542

Another early layer was gesso scraped through a stencil, then extra messy gesso scraped haphazardly. If you’re a fellow scraper of gesso you’ll recognise those characteristic windshield wiper patterns of clearing excess off the scraper 😉

IMG_41543

In the years preceding this project I accumulated a shed load of design magazines, rich full of the most gorgeous graphics and illustration.  Just lately I embarked on transforming the knee high heap into 4 boxes of delicious collage ingredients, and a small mountain of recycling.

Thing is, I don’t know who this half a face belonged to, and as an artist I’d like to credit the creator. Any reference to the inventor got lost in the snippings. If it was you – thank you  and I hope that you like the new other half I made. In the spirit of self-portraiture I’ve mismatched the eyes for a familiar wonkiness!

IMG_41544

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip through the putting together stages. Here’s how the page developed as a whole………

Chapter Next: Unity & Variety


I’m having so much fun with this altered book.

As it develops more meanings are attaching themselves. For instance, it hunity-variety01as 42 pages, and as we all know 42 is the meaning of life, the universe and everything. So suddenly it has a theme attached… it’s a book with elements of life, the universe and everything. Reckon those are parameters I can keep within!

Plus I’ve brought in elements of Somerset Maugham’s writing. Seemed only fair as I’d already obliterated so many of his words in paint and collage and whatnots.

This page is titled from his quote:

“The Essence of the Beautiful is Unity and Variety.”

unity-variety13

Here is how the page developed …………..

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 ….