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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Handmade Book (class)


The latest project in my handmade book class (perhaps you'll remember the first one, which I posted about here) is a collaborative effort. Each of 10 students in our class, plus the teacher, created a two-page spread inspired by the theme of "distance."

Each two-page spread had to be replicated through a printing process of the individual artist's choice. Then each of us created enough prints of our spread so that everyone could bind their own book containing a spread from everyone. Get it? It's really simple, actually, but my articulation makes it sound complicated.

Today we bound the pages. Thus, I now have an entire book. The images are all wonderful -- and so different. The one here is, probably obviously, mine. (You can decide whether it's wonderful. It's a little chilly, that's for sure.)

I thought about scanning the others but it seemed like stealing to put them on this blog, so I'll just have to describe. Most weren't as illustrative as this; many were abstract. There was some photo montage as with my classmate Lucy's spread depicting trains from her many travels.

Adam M. recently set out on a Sunday afternoon walk -- well, OK, it took him like 7 hours -- of what I'm estimating was maybe 22 miles. His spread was a really cool gel transfer of a photo he shot when he was rewarded by a beautiful vista.

Lisa, a runner, inked up her running shoes, ran across craft paper laid out on the floor, then scanned her footprints and shrunk them down to itty-bitty images on the page. Amber laid out letters and images from her upbringing, when her military father bridged the distance between himself and his family with short, sweet letters.

And on and on.

Collaboration is almost always a good thing. I feel like I've spent a lot of my life resisting group activities -- perhaps wanting to rise or fall on my own, in a very ego-centric way. But part of what I love about this book is the same thing that I loved about the pain book: it tells a lot of stories at once. Also, while I have what is probably a brief relationship with most of the people in this class, it's material proof of a moment in time when we did this cool thing together.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Food Around Which I Cannot Be Trusted


1. Pepperidge Farm Layer Cake.
2. Candy Corn
3. Peanut Butter
4. Candy Corn
5. Brownies
6. Chef Boyardee Ravioli
7. Cookies of Any Kind. Any Kind.
8. Candy Corn

What, you were looking for 10? This is an honest list, and it amounts only to 8. (Depending on how you're counting, of course ...)

So what's your list, anyway?

Happy Halloween, boys and girls.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


So the senior project is, as you might've gathered, a book. I did a version of it a few years ago that was not ready for prime time, and am now aiming to create a prime time version. I have written and rewritten, and gone through the lengthy and lurching start-up process, where one can get overwhelmed by the many initial decisions that must be made before taking the thing forward: What size? Black and white or color? Hand-written text, designer font? Panel layouts or free-form? The questions are far more numerous than that and I have answered them mostly to my satisfaction.

One of the cool things, though, is that as much as the logic-brain wants these questions answered, there's still room for new decisions that come out of the process of making the thing. This is especially true if one is the author and the illustrator. The author creates the story that the illustrator then interprets, but in this case the illustrator can give a few orders back to the author.

I don't mean to be coy here, and to not tell you exactly what today's sketchbook image has to do with all of that. The point is that yesterday, while I was on a long drive, I had a eureka moment (smallish eureka moment, hence the lower-case "e"), and it led me in a couple of directions. One of them was to the Squonk.

Those of you from the Classic Rock era will be aware that the Squonk shows up in two, count 'em TWO -- rock songs from the 70s. One was in the self-titled song by Genesis on "Trick of the Tail." The other was in the very fine "Any Major Dude" by Steely Dan.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Drawing In Class

Two things about art college that are different from regular college:
1) You don't spend astronomical amounts of money on books. (Corollary: You DO spend astronomical amounts of money on art supplies.)
2) No one gets mad if you're doodling in class, and many, many people doodle -- or just outright draw in their sketchbooks -- while teachers are lecturing.

Why is this OK? I haven't surveyed anyone on this, but I suspect it's because the smart teachers know that drawing is such a basic instinct for art students that it would be hopeless to discourage it. But also, we learn by way of drawing. We learn TO draw by drawing, and we anchor what we're hearing by the act of putting something on the page.

This sketchbook page -- with digital color added, of course -- was part of a spread I drew while listening to a guy lecturing our professional practices class about bookkeeping and taxes. I could have written notes on what he said, but the chances of me remembering key details of his advice are much better because the part of my brain that usually gets bored was taken up with the task of drawing the line of students in front of me.

In art history classes, I take notes and draw. The pages with the most vigorous drawings coincide with the best-remembered lectures.

So if you are a teacher of any kind, and your students are doodling, stop before you scold!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Word Voodoo

Word voodoo: It's the harm we do to ourselves and others when we're not careful with the kinds of labels we attach. For instance, if I were to call my waistline "revolting" in its out-of-shapedness, well ... word voodoo. Terrible ramifications.

Decades ago, I quit smoking. I quit dating boys who weren't worthy of me. I have quit buying every piece of jewelry that makes me salivate, and I've quit thinking someone else will walk the dog. Now I just walk the dog.

Word voodoo. Tryin' to quit ...

Saturday, October 01, 2011

I Ate a Big Bowl of Sea

Raise your hand if you've ever taken the bouillabaisse shells home to draw.