“He had seen it often, from the verandah of his uncle's farmhouse, or at the end of a long street, but till now he had never heard it. The hollowing hum of telephone wires along the road, the ring of hidden crickets, the stitching sound of grasshoppers, the sudden relief of a meadow lark's song, were deliciously strange to him.”
Woman's Work::Vivian Smith
"I was a professional engineer in the oil and gas industry for about 25 years. Engineering is challenging work that was made even more challenging by being a woman in a male dominated field. I am now pursuing a BFA from AUArts and the gender ratio has flipped. I am loving this phase of my life, the learning, the creativity, and the people!" ~ Vivian Smith
Though I prefer working on altered books rather than sketchbooks, I realize the value of sketching & experimenting regularly.
The sketchbook on the left was created several years ago and, because I was unsure what to create every day, I decided to use the alphabet...drawing & painting subjects that began with letter "A" then "B" etc. It was a year-long project with a painting a week...to extend it I chose capitals A to Z followed by lower case a to z. 52 weeks of things that were important to me from weather (Autumn) to my home, favourite beverage (Matcha latte) & our cat (Walter). Because I used acrylic paint I did have to coat each spread with gesso prior to painting so the pages wouldn't bubble & matte medium after each was completed so the pages wouldn't stick together.
The sketchbook on the top right is being filled with whatever catches my fancy ...particularly on travels & walks. In it I'm using watercolour, pen & ink. Simple to take anywhere.
The final & smallest sketchbook is being filled with farmhouses. In this one I've decided to use acrylic gouache. Since the pages are a bit heavier I don't have to prep them and, as gouache is matte, the pages don't run the risk of sticking together.
I have attempted pencil crayon in the 2nd sketchbook but I prefer liquid media. I also tried pencil but don't like how easily it smudges...it brings me back to my high school days, not in a good way at all. The interesting thing is that ink bleeds when I paint on it but I don't mind that at all. Maybe it reminds me of my earlier large interior paintings. I used to paint the ground lime green (like a green screen), draw an image with charcoal & even though I used fixative some charcoal would mix with the paint...I loved that effect.
Anyway, here's to staying focused, to finishing these projects, and to enjoying the process along the way.
I am so slow at creating these but I love every minute of it...painting & cutting & pasting & creating a little 'story' with images & colour. This newest one was a pandemic project that began in black & white but slowly shifted to colour.
My first foray into altered books took place many years ago as a collaborative process with @supriak , @sethapter , @roxanneevansstout , @ritavindedzis & @jillzaheer when we connected through Blogspot...I was so grateful for that opportunity. We each spent a couple of months on one another's projects and I signed out every book from our library on mixed media, art journalling, altered & reclaimed art to learn more. I was nervous but they were so encouraging.
Through books I learned about adding pockets, pop outs, adhering 3-dimensional objects, photo transfers, reinforcing spines, and so much more. And I haven't stopped creating them since...very slowly. It's a great process to help me slow down.
I have shared previously, but I love working with a themes and each previous book has been:
• Self Portrait
• The Art of Simplicity
• A Story to Tell
• Rustic Simplicity
• True Love
• To Be Where You Are
Since my first altered book I have had the privilege of teaching numerous workshops on creating something personal with a focus on what is important to you & being accessible while also being fairly simple to create. I love being able to salvage damaged books from our library that would otherwise be discarded and have shared some of my books on my website (under the 'Portfolio' here) and also have an eCourse available here.
Woman's Work::Lorelli Nowell
"Dr. Lorelli Nowell is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Nursing. She is passionate about teaching and learning and researches innovations in teaching and learning, professional learning and development, and mentorship to support nursing students and the nursing workforce."
After layering colour and pattern in the backgrounds, part of my process when painting is to include layers of glazes to capture the shadows in the work. This is followed by some opaque paint (usually something mixed with titanium white) and then go back in with glazes and another layer of opaque colour. I usually end up with a glaze layer, adding some vibrancy to the work, often incorporating purple, orange or red tones. The glazes are created by adding water and flow aid medium to the heavy body Liquitex acrylics that I like to use. Every summer, I take my pochade (Judson's Plein Air Guerilla Painter) outside as often as I can while in winter I will occasionally settle in for a movie while I paint. Though it was difficult to switch from painting large canvases once I developed adhesive capsulitis in both of my shoulders, I have come to love working small as it gives me so many opportunities to work in different environments. In the end, though, I really am a studio painter so my space is very important to me and I feel very grateful to have it.
My last altered book was intended to be fully black & white but, as I have begun to feel much more hopeful than I felt at the beginning of the pandemic, it became colour-filled. So, now I am working on another, this one is also intended to be B+W but I already have a few ideas rattling around in my mind.
The pages were created using mixed media paper and payne's grey acrylics mixed with matte medium, flow aid and water along with salt as I wanted to emulate the 'prayer' pages created by a Theologian who is also a watercolourist. She experiments with wet on wet and wet on dry pages, using the strokes like prayer beads and I love that so much as I have always equated painting time as a form of meditation or prayer. Besides reading, it really is the only time that I focus fully on the present.
Anyway, I ended up creating too many pages for the small altered book so I think I will also create a couple of accordian booklets as well. Perhaps one, or all, of them may have some additional colour drawings/paintings attached...we'll see!
Woman's Work::Paula Galbraith
"I am a wife, mum of two, and a Gramm to three! I have worked in the Oil & Gas industry for 20+ years (full time). The pandemic hits and my hours are cut to ½ time which has never happened in all my working years, so a bit of a hit. But through this thankfully I realized it is not what shapes me. When those hours were cut it actually gave me more time to get to know me and who I am. I was able to focus on things important to me – health, my family and me. I had more time just to enjoy those extra minutes. I love to read, walk, yoga, sit in my chair and take in our vast open prairie and big blue skies. I have learned more to enjoy the little things!" ~ Paula Galbraith
New (old) Studio Table
I absolutely love vintage pieces, especially for my studio, and was thrilled to find this chipped old table at our local antique store. It has so much character and fits perfectly with a chair I had salvaged from our neighbor's trash many, many years ago. There is something so special about repurposing something that others may not see value in and it gives me so much joy to have several 'saved' pieces in my home and in my studio. Plus, it's wonderful to have another surface to place items on, whether they are pieces that are drying or supplies. This makes me so very happy as it is something I have wanted for some time.
As I've experimented with smaller setups for travel, I realized that my Jane Davenport INKredible pen and Brights watercolour palette work extremely well together. I've been using Ferris Wheel ink which comes in the tiniest bottle and don't mind the ink mixing with the watercolour as I work. I just ask for a napkin and glass of water wherever I am (usually a cafe) and I'm ready to go. I have two collapsible brushes in the watercolour kit...one is very tiny by Winsor & Newton for details while the other is a size 8 travel brush by Princeton. It holds quite a bit of water and I love how it feels when I use it. Now to find a smaller sketchbook and I should be ready for longer trips...or even shorter ones nearby. I'd like something with a little heavier white pages as I do love working on mixed media paper. Guess I have some research to do. :)