Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Very Bookist Christmas

At a craft show, there was a guy selling exquisite leather journals. Loved them, except for the price. So why not just make my own version of these for much less. At yard sales and Goodwill places, I bought old leather coats and disassembled them. Then found a variety of inexpensive journals to speed up the process and started attaching and arranging.

Some of the first ones turned out just okay. 
They came to life when incorporating parts of the coat buckles, buttons, sleeves and pockets.
Brown leather with a cuff.

Orange leather with a belt loop.

A shoulder strap holds a marker.

A hanging tassel adds a little drama.
At first I didn't like the pocketed tan one, but now I've been using it for everything from daily notes, errand lists, ATCs, collecting ephemera to saved ideas.
Today I gathered a bunch up and shoved them in a Steampunk Trunk and passed them around to the church staff. I'm not sure if this is too funky of a thing to be passing around to church folks, but what the heck, they can put down music, ideas, addresses, prayer requests, all kinds of stuff. Wouldn't a humble imperfect journal be just about right for this work?
They are called the Imperfect Perfect Journal.
The idea is that they are already flawed, so you won't feel nervous about using it. You know how some journals are just too beautiful or expensive to ever mark in and mess up. Since these are already imperfect, here's hoping that everyone who got one will fill its pages.
In this Technological Age this could be a Lost Art, but I'm lost in it.
So what else can you do with them?
Well, if your an artist, you can draw and paint, of course.
Being relieved after the trauma of my missing cat being found, I painted this by accident. I'd put in the brown to offset the brown leather on the inside cover and the gray part looked so much like the hole the cat dug for herself that I decoupage her inside it. It makes me giggle now to look at it.

Then, there's the fantasy journals. Who doesn't want to be Queen Elizabeth and marry Doctor Who?
I made a copy of the Tardis and decoupaged it, then painted.

So what do you think? Do you want one? If you write me, I just might send one to you.
Merry Christmas

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Pen Pal Author at Linebaugh Library

My friend Raina (and fellow board member) said, "I heard you stalk male authors."
I said, "No, that's not right, I stalk the women authors too."

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies

It's 2006 during down-time at a tennis competition for our son. I force my family to check out the local bookstore. We probably shouldn't buy anything because we have to focus on the boy's tennis, but there's no harm in looking. Then I see it!  Bats at the Beach. It is the cutest bat I've seen since Stellaluna (and that's cute). The little guy was toasting an unusual marshmallow with cricket parts. The other guy was flying his friend like a kite. 

So, how does a grown woman explain to her husband of many years that she MUST have a children's book that costs $16? We could pretend it's for our child but he's known me too long to believe it. It wrenched my heart to walk away without possessing it.
This is a sad story of loss and despair. And, I never forgot the book.
Seven years later, not only do I  own multiple copies of Bats at the Beach but all the other books too of Brian Lies. So, why not meet this guy that has made this iconic bat? We started negotiating to have Brian as the next Pen Pal author to visit Murfreesboro.
When an author says Maybe, I hear Yes. And when the author says, well I can only . . . fill in the blank . .. . I say Yes.  Yes, yes, of course it is for the kids. I'm certain that at least one of those kids will want to become an author or illustrator.
Brian Lies sharing his wisdom with the children of Murfreesboro.
Hobgood welcomes Brian with a great sign.
Having a little fun by drawing on the wall in the bookstore.
"Have our author and eat cake too" - that's our motto.
It's tradition now that my son comes for the cake.
I'm looking a bit raggedy, but who cares when I can meet Brian Lies.
We learn all his cool tricks. One is that he uses a blue crayon to sketch. Blue is his favorite color and helps to relax him into getting the work done.
He goes through many sketches and smaller versions of paintings until it's Better. He doesn't believe practice makes perfect, but practice makes Better.
I really dig my job on the library board.
So, how are we going to top this?
Shssh, I've no idea, but we say that every year. 
If you have any suggestions for next year, ah never mind, I probably won't listen, because it will start with  wandering some local bookstore and noticing the best book ever.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Le Cirque Challenge Somerset Studios

Somerset Studio magazine proposed an art challenge to their readers to send them Circus Art and called it Le Cirque. It could be any type of art. I've never been a fan of the circus, it seems creepy, sinister and out to take poor people's last quarter. Yet, the little cracker-tiger from the metal tin, holding paint brushes on my desk, was crying out to be made into a journal. I still hesitated to cut up the metal container, because they are already cool, and probably hard to come by these days, but the polar bear said, go ahead, and I put on the goggles and made the first cut into the tin.
The whole process is fun from hunting yard sales for old odd pieces to slopping Mod Podge everywhere. I will take a photograph of anything, so  I've thousands of images to use. Making the paper from Gesso and all colors of paint is a blast.
The only part of the process I dislike is sewing the signatures together.
Erin Morgenstern visited the Nashville Public Library. She's a sweet woman, so of course she needed to be taming that orange Bengal tiger. The Life of Pi author visited too, and it just dawned on me right this very second that I missed the opportunity of using that tiger. I did address an SASE and when it returns, I will add that. Work is never done.

Even though the circus is a dark topic, these circus crackers are just funny.
Surely, you also played with them before you ate them, like I did as a kid (okay, I still do).
Another item that was lying in the attic was a circus-cracker game. I photographed the game pieces, printed out the image and then glued and pained over that. Don't you just want to eat him?

There is something about those striped tents that make you want to go look inside.

Morgenstern and me getting eaten up by animal crackers.

This guy is getting a little worried about someone chewing on him.

Morgenstern autographed her book and a flyer. Don't worry the First Edition book and signature is safely tucked away in the Triangular Book Case.

At the Southern Festival of Books, I met Hannah Barnaby, so heck, why not include her new circus book into this journal?

And have her get carried away by a big ape. Who knows, this could be a fantasy of her's?

It wouldn't be fair to alter them and not doing something dumb to myself. I do love Big Cats.

The tent invites you in. I photographed the tents when there were in town (for the Fourth of July firework sellers), printed out the image and then painted over it.

The center spread is the tent pole holding the whole thing together.

Of course my own big cat, Mimi, who sits on all my work during the process can not be overlooked. Ringmaster, yep, that sounds about right. Zane is in there too, but it's a secret to find him.

Jerry Lewis is an image that must be in my work. Now how do I include Jerry Lewis in a book about the circus? He did play Vaudeville which is circus like, but I wanted it to make complete sense. Then it struck me, by thinking of Jerry Lewis, that this circus journal was missing the last important thing about a circus. And yes, it's just dawned on you now.
The Clown.

Like the circus, the clown is also a bit dark and gloomy. Jerry Lewis's clown is the same way and the perfect obvious choice to be highlighted. The book is King of Comedy by Shawn Levy.

I love this creepy handsome duality.

We end with some popcorn. Seriously, I will take a photograph of anything, folks looked at me funny when I photographed the popcorn they served at the Morgenstern event, but you see it did come in handy, so who's right in the end?

 The end.
Note: Artist Leighanna Light held a class on Metal Art Journals in Nashville at the Art Is Life Retreat last Spring. Even though I was intimidated by her great journals and the fear of boring a hole in metal (and myself), I signed in anyway. Since then, I've made a bunch of metal journals and even had Mike Wolfe of the America Pickers sign my first found-junk one.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Multi-Tasking Creative Playdates

Pam Carriker's book Creating Art at the Speed of Life is due out in bookstores soon. It's the sequel to Art at the Speed of Life, published in 2010. One great tip from the first book is the Multiple Projects Rule on page 11. Now, my art studio (sheepishly, the garage) has painted watercolor paper drying on the bookcase, journal sewing on the desk, and tennis art journals gluing on the counter. Also, a junk metal caddy in various array for the making of junk journals.
On page 91, she mentions to  "Make a Play date with Yourself."
Which in the Spring of this year, we did just that with Pam Carriker herself.
All my daily drudgery got wiped off the schedule and I stole some of my freedom back and attended the Busting Out Class in Nashville.

Pam happily embraces her new students who, as you can see, are a little stunned and intimidated.


Not to worry, she'll guide us through it.
I just dig all the cool supplies and having a room and time of our own to just create.

Pam demonstrates highlighting techniques with new brushes and paint pens.
The artwork is thoroughly documented. It even went viral.

While the paint is drying, Pam multi-tasks by teaching us a One-Day Art Journal.

Some of her gorgeous pages inside her One-Day Journal.

The Linebaugh Library and I are currently planning a Creative Ladies Day in the Fall. Designed for ladies, because why should kids have all the fun. Plus, this means I'll be multi-tasking a play date.