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December 21, 2011

Mixed Media Artist Book

In 1976, the year after our 3rd and last child was born, I started to make fabric ornaments for our Christmas tree.  I usually made 20-24 of the same ornament so I could give some away as gifts.  And over the years I made several more for our family when I found a new pattern, design or needlework technique (for example smocking or silk ribbon embroidery).  After giving away 3 full sets of the ornaments to our children, when they were married, I still have 139 hanging on our tree. 

Each of the last few years I sketched and painted random ornaments in my daily watercolor sketchbook during the holidays, and then last year I decided  that I would make a mixed media artist's book of my favorites.  So I am scanning and printing some of the ornaments from my sketchbook pages and collaging them into the book.  And on other pages, I'm drawing and painting them directly on the pages in the 8 x 10" watercolor book. 

Here are 3 of the first pages.  This will be a long term project for the last two weeks of December each year.  Once we take down our tree and pack up the ornaments, they will be forgotten until the next year.

 

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September 12, 2011

More Watercolor Sketchbooks

These watercolor sketchbooks were made with my bookcloth - white cotton fabric that was manipulated and dyed using procion MX dyes.  All of them are full, even though I haven't numbered the last two before they were put up on the shelf. 

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I learned how to use soy wax resist with procion dyes earlier this year and just had to try it out with all of my dye colors.  Here is my "Harlequin" design,

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 I just finished two more - one 5.5 x 7.5" portrait style and one 8" square.  The blue one is my current daily sketchbook.  Each of my sketchbooks has Fabriano Artistico 140 lb Soft Press paper.  Getting the book size and the paper I liked was my initial motivation for making a sketchbook.  Then I decided that I really loved binding books and making my own bookcloth is a complete joy.  I get to work with different resists, fabric manipulations, stamps, screens and monoprinting.  My series of black sketchbooks that were made with commercial bookcloth are so blah!

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The recycled books, sketchbooks with black bookcloth, and covers of some of these books can be seen by scrolling through the following blog category.  There is also a tutorial for how to recycle a book to make a watercolor sketchbook - that was how I started on this journey.

http://www.paperandthreads.com/bookbinding/

http://www.paperandthreads.com/2008/03/recycling_an_old_book_as_a_wat.php

March 11, 2011

Making Watercolor Sketchbooks and Painting a Live Luna Moth

I love making my own watercolor sketchbooks and for at least a year have also been making by own book cloth using cotton fabric that I dye with Procion MX dyes and several suface design techniques.  This is the sketchbook that I'm completing now.  The cover was made by folding the fabric in different directions and then dipping it into the dye. 

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This is the Sketchbook that I started yesterday - this time the cloth was stamped with tile spacers and corn dextrin resist before dying it.   

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I use Canson Mi Tientes for endpapers in these sketchbooks - it is a wonderful weight paper and it comes in so many colors.  The watercolor paper is Fabriano Artistico Extra-Bright 140 lb soft press paper - a nice compromise between hot and cold press for me.  The books are approximately 7.5 inches square.

These are all of the sketchbooks that I made since I switched from black commercial bookcloth to hand dyed fabric fused to Thai mulberry paper.  I fell in love with my first square journal and now seem to moving away from the 6 X 8" portrait size.

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Yesterday I took my grand daughter Sydney to the Natural History Museum since she had a day off from school.  This little girl has NO interest in dinosaurs, so our visit consisted of the Butterfly Conservatory, African mammals (which she photographed in detail), Gems and Minerals, and the Rose Planetarium show called Journey to the Stars.  This week I was able to get a good photograph of the luna moth in the Butterfly Conservatory, so I painted him as the first entry in my new watercolor journal.

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December 31, 2010

Art Progress - 2010

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1. Maintain an artist journal - doing one page per day minimum - to include illustrated journal pages, travel sketches, skill practice pages, figure drawing, etc.

I did maintain my daily sketching, doing at least one journal page per day with only a rare "missed day." When I’m just too busy or tired to do one, I usually add two sketches the following day. And on sketchcrawl days and on days when I go to figure drawing I have as many as 19 sketches for the day.

2. Publish blog entries twice each week - share EDM challenges and other select pages in order to participate in an online art community.

I posted to my blog twice weekly almost every week and everyday in May - an ongoing project. I love my friendships which began because of my blog and continue to be amazed at how important it is for communication among like-minded people. This year I spent time with two EDM members - in person (Liz and Raena) and met 2 members of my Journal Study Group because of my blog. I stopped doing EDM challenges early this year and haven’t figured out why. It is probably a combination of having enough self-imposed challenges and exercises to do from some of the books I read monthly.

3. Attend Figure Drawing sessions at least 1-2 X /month. Try other tools and techniques during 20 minute poses.

I attended monthly figure drawing sessions at the Society of Illustrators and went twice during several months, especially to make up for their closure during August. The only new tool used was a blending stump - but I did sketch more faces on the figures, so I think I’m progressing.

4. Build More Art Skills: Prepare a schedule for working through my art technique library - resuming Dodson drawing book exercises this month. Copy the Masters in Museum exhibits locally.

At the beginning of the year I selected 12 books to work through monthly during the year - to learn new skills. And I completed every one! I decided to do this because I want to learn on my own, not through art classes and lessons, and it is perfect for me. I didn’t resume the Dodson drawing book. I’m stuck at the point that I need a live model in bright sunlight. However, I continue to work from the Master drawings in the galleries and museums here in NYC. These are the books I read:

January: Betty Edwards: Color: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors

February:Cathy Johnson: Watercolor Tips and TechniquesFebruary:Hannah

Hinchman: A Life in HandFebruary:Barbara Steicher: Sketchbooking

March: John Raynes: Drawing and Painting People

April: David Rankin: Fast Sketching Techniques

May: Diana Trout: Journal Spilling

June: Gerald Brommer: Collage Techniques

July: Jeff Mellem Sketching People + ½ Carla Sonheim Drawing Lab

August: Linda Kemp: Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines

September: John Raynes: Figure Drawing Workbook

October: Melanie Tests: Inspired to Quilt

November: Second 1/2 Carla Sonheim Drawing Lab

December: North Light Books Staff: Sketchbook Confidential

5. Continue with Sketchcrawls, Meet-up Central Park Drawing Group, Journal Study Group to sketch NYC.

I have a wonderful group of friends to sketch with - the Central Park Drawing and Meet-Up Group that meets now twice each month (except during the coldest months), and my Journal Study Group. I also spent 3 days with EDM member Liz Steel who was visiting NYC from Australia and spent an afternoon sketching with Liz and Jason Das (Urban Sketcher).

6. Deal with my Internal Critic and Fear of Failure: Develop a strategy to fool my internal critic so I can continue to add to "My Apartment" journal. The journal and project need to be converted from "too precious" to a playful experience using some of the strategies I have copied and saved from my reading.

When EDM member Casey Toussaint was visiting me this summer, we discussed this common problem and challenged each other to do at least one more page in the sketch books that we made during our bookbinding class. I have now completed a total of 2. I have no problem using my other hand bound watercolor sketchbooks or plain watercolor paper or the Strathmore Visual Journals that I received from Rice Freeman Zachary as a "giveaway." There is something about the fact that the above mentioned precious sketchbook was made during my only bookbinding workshop and is as perfect as a sketchbook can be because of the equipment available.

7. PLAY: Try some new art tools - Schmincke watercolor paint triad, dip pens, Pentel pocket brush pen, oil pencils for figure drawing, etc

I have tried lots of new tools this year - Schminke watercolor paints in cool and warm triads, a Pentel pocket brush pen, a ruling pen, dip pens with several types of nibs, several types of paper, including Yupo, Neocolor II watercolor crayons, and Shiva paintstiks. I also learned how to make foam stamps and copied a master painting in stamps and learned how to make and use Thermofax screens. My art buddies challenged me to make a multimedia book using everything I owned - working in layers - and with many images per page and I completed a 16 page journal.

8. Bookbinding - continue to make watercolor journals for myself, trying different sizes and my own dye painted fabric as book cloth.

I learned how to make book cloth from my hand dyed and painted fabrics and made 7 watercolor sketchbooks for my daily journal. In addition, I made several other types of books including a hidden spine and Australian piano hinge book (both inspired by Gwen Diehn) and another recycled book for summer beach paintings.

9. Optional: Add to Theme Projects (London, NYC) - Try to complete some other pages in these 2 journals or just get over the angst of having two unfinished journals and move them to the "completed journals shelf"

I completed 11 pages in my NYC recycled sketchbook this year and I’m almost done with it! Most of my NYC sketches are in my regular daily sketchbook, because that is what I carry with me, so I will not make another NYC sketchbook when this one is done. I’m going to move my London book to the finished stack because I completed 3 fifty page sketchbooks during our many visits to London in 2006-7 and I really don’t enjoy sketching from my photos now that we are home.

10. Keep myself open to new projects and adventures. Be willing to "stretch" whenever the opportunity arises.

I think that this was easy to accomplish, because I was surrounded by such wonderfully creative friends and our Journal Study Group provided amazing inspiration and lots of sharing of specific skills. And as added inspiration, Gwen Diehn became an honorary member and spent full days with us when visiting her family in NYC.

August 29, 2010

Square Watercolor Journals

I never thought that I would LOVE a square watercolor journal, but Roz and Kate both talk about them regularly.  When Fabriano Artistico changed their watercolor paper from "grain long" to "grain short, " I made a square book that is approximately 7.5" square.  It takes 2 sheets (22 x 30") -without any waste - and it JUST fits in my mini-backpack  

I just made my second square journal.  The cover was made with cloth that I dye-painted with Procion MX dyes and fused toThai mulberry paper with Wonder Under.  The paper is FA 140 lb soft press extra white - 6 signatures with two folios per signature. 

FRONT COVER:

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BACK COVER:

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Since the book cloth is so "busy" I used Canson Mi Tientes for the end papers.

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I started making my own watercolor journals because I couldn't find any that I liked.  I took a 1 1/2 day workshop on making cased - in journals and now love making and using the journals.  There is lots of information and photos of many journals in the Bookbinding category on the right.

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