Australia Pigments Book Getting Companions

I like this arrangement for the table. It started a couple of weeks ago for the art group dinner. Each small pot got some mountain laurel. Now I am on to whatever I can pick in the garden. This morning yarrow and whatever this little maroon and golden bloom is, and just a bit of mint for green. It is nice to have them spaced along the center of the table instead of one larger bouquet.

The last of the coreopsis is in there as well.

And I decided to make the folios for another book of small illustrations about Australia. The edges of them were sanded to make them compatible with the pigments book by absorbing more of the watercolors from down under. I made over one hundred of them. Then I scored and folded each one at the spine. I learned to fold in both directions to make the creases work better for opening.

Then after just putting images on a page or two, I got out the Australian Bird Book. It was given to me by a book dealer in Asheville several years ago. She told me, “No one else will want it.” I loved her generosity and I love this book.

Originally I thought that the pages would all be coptic stitched together like the pigments one. But after doing the drawings/paintings on all four sides of each folio, I thought the fun of these is to be able to turn the pages. That would be impossible with a long string of folios.

So I decided to make fourteen (one for each trip to Australia) separate books of eight folios each.

Naturally the first page of book one is a Eucalyptus branch and leaves. Here are some of the illustrations on pages in between the leaves and the hopping away kangaroo.

A couple of pages for the basket makers and a nod to why I was first hired to teach there in 1997.

And of course the cane toad.

I am also learning or at least trying to learn not to put each illustration in the middle of the page. It makes the book more active.

And I must say that it feels lovely and intimate in the hands. This is going to be a fun project for me to work on. And once eight folios are finished, just thread those needles and stitch them up. No covers necessary as I want the feeling of things spotted along the way in my travels down under.

And here it is tucked in next to the pigments book. When the fourteen small illustrated books are finished I think they would look good in a box just tumbling around the soft undulating pigments book.

Both pieces are very inviting to the hand. Both make me feel like I am there.

In the meantime the only parts of the novella Kind Gestures to put on the website are the final chapter and epilogue. By Friday I think it will all be there. Then if I am not escaping to Australia, I can go back to Oliver, North Carolina and see how the “girls” are doing. For now I am taking my distances where I find them.

Til next time.

Something With Pictures

I saw one of these on someone else’s blog. They are made from Lake Michigan rocks and encased in vellum. How could I not want to buy the last two available from Shanna Leino. She is an extraordinary book artist and tool maker. Now my responsibility is to keep them clean. Do not sit them onto painted, smeary, muddy, gluey surfaces. They are between 3.5 and 4.5 inches and quite heavy. Perfect for holding things in place….clean things.

This week in the studio I painted 192 small 2″ x 4″ sheets of kozo paper with 153 watercolors made from the soils of Australia.

When they were dry I sealed the color in on both sides. Sorting them according to colors so that they move through the country by color was a bit of a challenge. I am fairly satisfied now.

Even the very pale sheets have some color clinging to their edges. Here you can see that they go from the greys to creams to light terre vertes to pale yellows and then on to more intense colors. Deeper yellow ochres through the browns to reds and finishing with a nice caput mortuum…deep brownish red….old blood.

My intention with these is to stitch on each sheet before it is folded into a folio and then coptic stitched to the next one in line. I want the long book to flow like the endless landscape of Australia. I want to roll it back and forth between my hands. At least that is the plan.

The thread will be something I bought over there. A cream or beige or Eucalyptus leaf green. Not sure about that yet. Maybe all three?

I have been dipping into these watercolors for several projects.

This one now housed in the South Australia Museum.

This one now in Australia’s National Library.

The Lake Mungo book housed in Queensland State Library.

There were many, many hand pulled prints colored with these same watercolors.

Another thing I did this week was take all of my pop up book collection to Western Carolina University where I received my BFA in 1997. There were over ninety titles. So many were gifts and so many more I just found irresistible. Many came from museum gift shops and were extremely complex in their movements.  They were very happy to receive this collection and told me that the artist book collection I gave them late last year is now housed in their museum. I like that students can have access to these books. Much better than having them in boxes here.

Here is the only pop up book I kept, the one I made myself….Art History Pops Up.

This one was so much fun to make. Ten iconic art images throughout history. We do not have access to the shiny slick papers that make pop ups work so well. It is tedious and very wearing on the movable parts to make one. At least that was my experience so far. I have been asked to work on another with someone knowledgeable on the history of the book. I hope I can live up to his expectations. More on that project later in the year.

Meanwhile that is it for now. But one more thing, the novella, Kind Gestures, is now on my website, offered in spaced out chapters.

Til next week.

The Reason for Writing “Kind Gestures”

I don’t have any pictures for this blog entry. If I did one would be the entrance to a diner, a diner in a small southern town. There would be blue chipped paint on the door and a sign hanging inside the window that said, “Open”. Then there would be a picture of the town taken from the top of hill looking down Main Street. And if you had a magnifying glass, you could make out the diner, Marty’s. You might also make out Veronica’s Boutique, a framing shop, the library, the corner gas station and the town park and cemetary. All the places that came to life as I attempted to tell a story whose action only takes place in one day.

I wrote almost all of this story about three years ago.

A friend pointed out, correctly, that I seemed a bit uncomfortable when in the company of a group of women. She was right. Groups of men are easier for me. There is something so familiar about them from my childhood. A comfort that drove me to write and do artwork about much later in graduate school.

She was not only right, but I was being unfair by staying away from women in groups. One on one I was fine. I thought of women as being more honest when singled out. In groups their personal stories changed to fit some desire to be “one of the girls.” Or so I thought.

I really needed to pay better attention. I needed to not be so sure that, “Being in a hardware store with the low rumble of men’s voices was so much better than being in a beauty parlor with the chattering of more than one woman.”

So I took my yellow dog pad of paper to a private place here on our property. I wrote down seven women’s names. Next to the names I wrote an age.

And one at a time I listened to what they had to say. I gave them one fictional day only for me to care about them. And even the ones that took on a less than favorable light, I gave second chances. I listened to each one and made a place for them in my story.

When I finished writing what was later to be titled, Kind Gestures, I realized that some of the women did not even like my company, let alone the company of others in the book. And I wonder what it was about them that made me put them in the background and on the periphery of what was happening that day in August.

I actually miss them. I miss listening to them. They are so much more than I shared in this short novella.

Louise Penny who wrote the captivating stories about Three Pines, a small imagined town in Canada, said in one of later ones that while living with her husband’s dementia, Three Pines was a place she could go to. I think she went there because as a writer, there is a control that might just not be in our daily lives and we need to feel that something can happen by just our saying so.

Oliver, North Carolina might  be my very own Three Pines. I have wanted to go back there and see more of these women and the lives they live.

When I wrote the story I thought like most writers that I might try to get it published. First by some famous publishing house, then maybe even self-publishing. But I have lost interest in doing that. It takes time and one hell of a lot of self-promotion that is not anything I have time or interest in.

But I did feel that unless I let these women’s stories out, I could not go back to see how they are. My time with them in that one day might be all there was.

So here they all are in the story titled, Kind Gestures. By putting the story on my website, I can do just what they and I wanted….a place for them to be seen and heard.

It is just a story. The kind of story that if you had a series of Saturdays in a bar and a comfortable stool and just one person to listen, it would be enough. Saturdays and bar stools are far and few between for me at my age, so this will have to do.

Next blog comes with pictures!