Saturday, January 24, 2009

Designs in Nature Continues

Before I send my book off and present final pictures and a completed product, I would like to share with you some of my earlier steps before it will have journeyed to it's final phase of completeness.

Here are a few pictures of my book's journey.

This collaborative altered book project has been one of the most enjoyable artistic experiences I've ever had. Challenging because I've never done this kind of project before, but so exciting and inspiring that I can't help but think about it all the time. I'm so grateful to be working with everyone- Supria, Seth, Rita, Veronica and Roxanne. Since my first posting of this collaboration, I've experienced so many coincidences and synchronicity of our projects. To begin with, I was awestruck to receive a comment from Reva Solomon, a reader of our blog, indicating that she knows the author of my book choice for about 13 years through The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators - I'm hoping that the author, Nancy Smiler Levinson, will be happy with the final results of our collaboration, knowing that this kind of project is done as an act of love of the book we've chosen and our connections to it.

The next coincidence came when I read about Supria's theme of Helen Keller for her project. I've always been fascinated by Helen Keller and to this day, marvel that she learned to see and hear without the workings of her biological eyes and ears, but rather through her intelligence, mind and senses. When I was creating the inside of my book cover (still in the works) I had glued an additional page from another book into this book for a butterfly shape I once cut out. As I started to read the words on the page, I was shocked to see that the writing was about Helen Keller.

The paragraph that was showing through (although may actually end up hidden) details the meaning of the word Sensuist - defined as a person who revels in life's sensory experiences. It goes on to say that Helen Keller was one of the greatest sensuists of all time. Based on this definition, I would characterize myself and would think most artists would fall into this category.

While working on this project, I've been overwhelmed by all of the energy I feel, highlighted by the connection toward all of my collaborator's themes which have been so inspiring to me. With this, I send a special thank you to everyone for sharing so much of themselves through their altered books, and again, a very special thank you to Supria who selected me as the 6th and final artist to complete our Inner Works team- and for that, I will forever be grateful.

Seth Apter of The Altered Page

Theme: Distressed Elements

The topic of distressed elements was originally foreign to me. The only distressed items I've previously been drawn to are antiques, old books and all parts of old houses. However, since the time that Seth selected his theme, I've slowly been drawn to distressed and rusted metals. So much so that I may now fit the category of an official rustonian! There is a certain beauty about these items that I have a new found appreciation for. It's a new world that's opened up to me- a whole new sphere of art to love.

Veronica Funk of Simple Pleasures

Theme: Friendship

On the surface, it may seem as if everyone knows about friendship. But actually, I think it's one of the most misunderstood kinds of relationships that abound. Thinking about the title enabled me to reflect again on the complexities of friendship. A year or two ago, someone sent me a poem, author unknown, that begins with this phrase: "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person...." I find that this sentiment often helps me to better understand the character and nature of many of my friendships and has helped me to understand the direction that they've taken. Friendship is one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other and ourselves.

Supria Karmakar of An Artist's 'Encaustic Musings'

Theme: Helen Keller

Helen Keller's aquisition of knowledge and ability to learn and accomplish all that she did in her lifetime remains a mystery to me. Not too long ago, I was walking in midtown Manhattan, New York City and saw a double billboard of both Helen Keller and the Dalai Lama.

I at once snapped pictures of it and wanted to incorporate Helen's piece into my bronx city scene painting- but unfortunately, it just didn't fit. The sign says, "Helen Keller Could Only see the Possibilities, Foresight ... Pass It On". What a beautiful thought for all of us to follow.

Roxanne Evans-Stout of River Garden Studio

Roxanne Evans-Stout

Theme: Earth Tones

How can we not be connected to Earth Tones, the foundation for our place on earth, our "air" below us, our ground and our connection to the world we live in. This past summer I traveled to Sedona and am forever now connected to these brilliant tones of our existence. They've become a part of me- so much so that I was inspired to create a painting of my relationship to these beautiful, peaceful yet exciting new found colors.

Rita Vindedzis of Rita Vindedzis

Theme: Gift From the Sea

The sea, another one of the great gifts of our earth is such an important part of my life. I've always been drawn to the sea and it's treasure trove of shells. I love both to collect them and be dazzled by their shapes, colors, textures- chameleon character- and how they are the protective homes to the sea creatures which they are entrusted to protect. The gift of the sea is not one thing, but encompasses so much. From the tides, fish, plankton, shells and all life within, it's always been such an amazing entity to me. I have this need to always be near a body of water- and thankfully, or maybe for this reason, I am gifted to be able to look out my window every day and see the Henry Hudson River in New York.

Jill Zaheer of Jazworks

Theme: Designs of Nature

I've chosen designs in nature as my theme to celebrate the natural beauty in all that nature has to offer and to capture the exquisite textures, relationships of space, lines, colors, dimension and overwhelming endless visual kaleidoscope of life's artistic blessings all around us.

Thursday, January 22, 2009



As I grow older

I see a need

for me to love myself


to love a reflection of myself,

the reflection that I see

in the eyes of a friend.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Distressed Elements

I have chosen distressed elements as my theme for this altered book project. I find that I gravitate toward art and art supplies that have their own history...that have a natural, weathered patina...that have the nicks of life that make them more interesting. Like people who have lived and taken risks and gone on their own personal journeys and adventures.

I had a difficult time choosing the "right" book for this project. After much deliberation, I have chosen to alter a book I already own...Oracle Night by Paul Auster. I have made this choice for a number of reasons. Practically, the book seems to be the perfect size (8 1/2" x 6" + 3/4" thick) and its relatively new, crisp pages will make a sturdy base for altering.

But even more important are the other reasons. Paul Auster is a favorite author. Like me, he lives in NYC and the city plays a big role in his novels. His writing style is very distinct and there is often a magical component to his work, which generally focuses on coincidence and synchronicity. There is one section even describing the quest for a book, coincidentally much like our own search for the right book to alter.

Oracle Night is a dark story. In fact, it touches on the more distressing elements of life. The story is about a writer and is anchored by a series of events that unfold following his purchase of a special blue notebook...a quite ordinary book that seems to have a powerful influence on those who come in contact with it. For all these reasons, Oracle Night ultimately resonated with me.

All five of us have such varied styles. I am hoping that each of us will bring our own personal touch to every altered book and that the end result will be six remarkable books. I look forward to seeing how this project unfolds. And, much like the story in the book I have chosen to alter, to see the powerful influence that all of our books have on our own lives!

Monday, January 12, 2009

In Search of Helen Keller

Helen Keller, June 27, 1880 to June 1, 1968.  Photo of Helen Keller in 1905.

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.  They must be felt within the heart." ~Helen Keller.

For months now I have been in search for that intuitive feeling of 'knowing"!  Knowing what is the right theme for my altered book project...  And it has finally come to me with a certainty that I am so enjoying... My book is going to celebrate the life of Helen Keller, but most importantly all that she stood for..Her values and philosophy; her story is one of perseverance, positivism, resilience, inner beauty, compassion, love and so much more...which I look forward to discovering  as I delve into her life.  By doing so I will be reminded of these important lessons in life and hope to live in these moments with grace and gratitude.

Helen Keller was a an American author, activist and lecturer.  She a person living without sight and hearing, who defied the odds and led a full life.  A great role model for all of us.  She campaigned for women's suffrage worker's rights and other progressive causes, such as pacifism, she was a birth control supporter and a radical socialist.  

So now the search is on for the right book...I am excited as I believe the inspiration for this comes from deep within and I am merely the vessel to bring it to life..And then five other beautifully creative souls will add to this beginning and create a wonderfully inspiring book.

I will post some of photos of the cover shortly, when I find the right book.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Altered Books Workshop - Great Resource Book!

Thought I would share the book I have found to be great when discovering altered books.  It is a fantastic resource that reviews step by step how to incorporate windows, doors, shadow boxes, drawers, pockets,  textures, glazing and other awesome collaging techniques...All of which are great tips in working with altered books.
If anyone has any other resources to share please do tell  : ) always on the look out for new resources.

Earth Tones

I am so excited to be a part of this fascinating collaborative,  Inner Works.  
For me, winter time is a time of soul searching, day dreams and finding new meanings and inspiration from the everyday world.   This project comes at the perfect time. 
The theme I chose for my altered book is "Earth Tones."  
I am intrigued by the earth and all of it's colors and sounds, in the natural world but also in history and celebrations of people that are close to their world of nature.  Dancing and drums from different cultures call to me as well as poetry and songs.
My wish is for this project is for the other artists to "listen to the tones of the earth,"  to create their own pieces of art that represent the color, music or traditions of our world.

The first photograph above is the book I have chosen to alter.  It is an old keeper of record albums.  It is about 8 x 8 inches square and is a dark red.  I have already started on the cover. Surrounding it are images or objects I may use in the project.  When I first began searching for this book, I chose "The Last Days of Pompeii," because I loved the cover and the yellowed pages, but as I began trying to connect these old pages into groups they disintegrated with my every touch, thus a new book had to be found!

Next is the book opened to the two pages I am starting.  I divided the book into 6 sections not counting the first and last page.  I connected them with brads, but each artist is welcomed to do what they like with them.  As seen, there are circular openings and envelopes which could be used or not...

Lastly some writing I did about "Earth Tones"... a poem of sorts...

As this project begins I welcome working with these amazing five artists and am excited to start working!


Gift From the Sea

I've always loved the ocean, so it's no surprise to me that when I signed up for this round robin altered book collaboration I would choose Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I have a very special copy of this book that I received for my 17th birthday and it has a beautiful inscription written inside. It's pages are discolored and worn as I've re read it numerous times and I'd like to keep it as is. I came across another book that I think would be perfect for altering. It's much larger and has more pages so I think it's better suited as we'll all be working with it. Step by Step Sushi by Katsuji Yamamamoto and Roger W. Hicks. I'll be altering this book and my theme will be Gift From the Sea. I think it works beautifully because what better gift do we get from the sea? It provides us with an abundance of wonderful fish. I researched on-line and found that when altering a book there are basically no rules, so I can proceed with my plan this way, right? If anyone has suggestions please feel free to comment.