Stories in the Marks Book

Here is a fish story. Pretty self explanatory action going on. I wanted to try background treatments with this one. It is easy to get carried away and overdo things which requires overdoing even more.

We awoke to snow the other morning and it influenced my next story.

I like the background in this one…snowflakes in some kind of other action…more snow, flurries of pine needles…something moving in the air. It took a very long time to make all the marks to create this atmosphere. And then this morning.

The page will be turned and the story will continue with predictability onto the next two page space. And I count on myself to come up with something else when this story ends. All the blank pages are just waiting for me to think up of ways to mark them up. I thought I would be using color by now out of shear boredom but the various ways of mark making in ink are keeping me engaged.

Somewhere I wrote a small piece about a child always on the outside of the group of other children. It might make for a good drawing story and let me do kids in their different clothing and body language. I will have to find it.

Lee is pacing from window to window because the sun is out but the frost and cold air are keeping him from putting on his jacket for the next few minutes anyway. It is hard for him with a history of always being outside building roads to just stay indoors. Now that he has all the leaves chased off, there is little for him to do when he does go out. His rocks still hold some appeal but now he does not know if he should move them. Later the caregiver comes and will take him out for walks, stick gathering and back inside for “cop shows”.

I will be stitching the next batch of books to send to Australia.

Til later….

Friday Again!!

Eight Trusting the Tether Line poetry books heading to Australia. Another box will be mailed there next week. It is taking me longer to stitch the signatures…finger cramps from holding things together while I try to use black thread on black paper. But I am progressing!

And the marks sketchbook continues.

This nest took quite a bit of time but worked.

I like how the short page illustrations play off the longer ones behind.

The start of a bamboo forest…or so I thought.

This is how it ended this morning. I am wondering about doing a story in six pages of just drawings that fill the entire page. There are so many pages left in this book. I am still thinking about it and wondering if Gory-like drawings would not be the better way to do it. Dots are just nuts to fill a page. My eyes blur after a bit. I also had to put the heron in water because I started marking out the head too low on the page. Working directly with pen makes you think creatively when mistakes are made.

And finally I think Ellie’s story will end soon…3,000 words is about enough and I figured out the ending. Three o’clock in the morning is the figuring hour.

It was always better to think of the things she might do than look back on the things she’d already done. Those things were over. Ellie had moved on. It may not have always been in a straight line but she stepped away from her yesterdays with hardly a glance back……..

Til later


I Am Back to Catch Up

This the page I forgot to show last time. The rock pile on the left was finished off with another rock on the bottom because I had an ink smudge there and I kept looking at it. The mountain was just a test to see if I could give a rock a different surface. Then the stone wall where I was reminded of Shel Silverstein. The more I work with the dots, the more I see them as good for only illustrations…preferably in children’s books.

Then a return to hard lines of black and white in this stylized version of that leaf I was so enamored of several weeks ago.

Next trying dots and hard strokes on the same page but not on the same subject.


An experiment with landscape…could I get distance using the same pen to make the dots? The problem here is that you can’t take the marks back and the “river” became way too dark. The only solution was to get more marks (dots) in the surrounding areas.

It does not solve the problem but could be worked into with more dots to darken the left side. But I have spent so much time on this already and the lesson has been learned. To the right is a bunny of very few and therefore safe dots and some grass and leaves. See what I mean by children’s book illustrations? The only line of text that would fit here is,

“And the bunny hopped away to sit in the grass under a tree.”

I suppose that if one was a serious illustrator and using the stippling method, then the image could conceivably be lightly drawn in with graphite. Then dots added to appropriately fill in the image and pencil marks erased. Which may be exactly how they do it. I am only interested in getting confidence up with using pen directly on the page to create a “picture”. On the other side of this bunny is an attempt at capturing a feather, then a chickadee on a branch that will eventually hold a nest with an egg in it. Giving depth to all the stems and grasses that make up a nest using only stippling should be quite the challenge. Then what?

Once I have met all the challenges I set up for myself, what else do I do to fill this book….

I might get myself a micron .005 pen and return to parallel lines i.e. Edward Gory. But fill the entire page with subject, background and atmosphere. Tell a wordless story in so many pages. Sounds fun, right? An ultimate challenge.

Sadie seems barely interested in my ideas. But she will sit with me while I keep one eye on the page and the other on Lee.

Out of the clear blue the other day Lee reached out to give me a hug. We are not huggers of each other. I can not remember when the last hug I got from him was…..maybe forty years ago, maybe more. I got this spontaneous hug because a hair on the edge of his nostril was driving him crazy and I used the tiny shaver, that only I have access to, and cleared it away. He was positively joyful about the absence of that pesky hair.  I don’t get hugs for cutting his hair the last 54 years. Nor do I for using that same magic razor to trim what we call werewolf hairs from over his ears, but one hair on a nostril and a hug! I hugged him back and told him it was my pleasure to be the barber in charge. We laughed at that and then went back to our own worlds.

I am supposed to be working on the books or finding out what to do with Ellie.

So I am off.

Til later.

Suddenly It Is Days Later!

Clear blue skies and frigid weather today.  I came over here to the apartment to work on the piercing of pages and thinking I would bind some of the several books I am sending off to Australia…but I forgot scissors and the covers need trimmed on the board shear in the studio. So that job is put off until Monday when I get better prepared. But so far fifteen books of two signatures each have been pierced.

The 32 lb paper feels luscious. And I like the fine tether line throughout.

Every day I do marks in the book with black ink. For some reason I forgot to photograph the page after the stacked stones using the stippling method….I will show that page next time. But in doing that page and working on a stacked stone fence, I thought of Shel Silverstein. He had such bold black ink marks for his illustrations but something about the stippling of a stone wall reminded me of his work. I shall have to dig out my Silverstein children’s books and see. Anyway I turned that page and decided to just do different stones.

This type of work takes so much time. And I find that working off my lap is not the best way to do it. The slight bounce of the pen on pages makes it more of a short, although very short, line. These stones all look “furry”.

When I was doing wood engravings on hard maple boards I used this stippling technique with moderate success. The finely grained wood block did not bounce because of course it was on a table. The stippling tool could make nice clean pecks into the hard wood. In that case I was creating light with each mark whereas in this marks book I am creating the dark. A very fine point would be best and done on a solid surface. I may tire of this tediousness sooner than I thought.

Here is this morning’s leaf.

On the reverse side of that leaf is another one that I returned to the more bold line work…I will show that one later. So it seems to me now that I prefer the fine lines used like Edward Gorey did.  And I think that is because it seems closer to graphite which is what I am more used to. The stippling might work more like graphite illustration if I had a very fine point. Rapidograph pens are about the only ones they say work best this way…held perpendicular to the page. All other fine points do not like the pouncing up and down. They are made to be used at an angle. Of course there is always the fine dip pens but I would need to work over a table. I will keep going…but I am sensing some boredom creeping in.

Since all the pens sent to me are primarily waterproof, I might just start adding color….maybe.

And today over here at the apartment I worked on two more pages of the fairy book. Only the final two left to go.

I have not figured out what to do with the printed leaf marks on the folded up angled bottoms yet….maybe a whole long row of flowers.

Once I finish the fairy book I have two more from Lorraine down under that have contact prints in them as well. I might be more adventurous and use black pen in the next.

Ellie of my short story is still waiting in the garden for me to get her moving again. I don’t like to spend too much time with these characters that I make up. I think they have a private life that I am not supposed to be snooping into. I wouldn’t want someone following me around to see what I do next, so why would they? I like to think of them as an overheard conversation in a diner. Just enough exposure to make them real and somehow familiar. I don’t think I will follow her into the next day that she has planned. I think whatever she wants to resolve will be done before she goes to bed.

I like her. I would not mind sharing some of her mediocre vegetable soup if invited. Or maybe I could just lean up against a door jamb and watch for awhile. If I do that then I can take it all in, how the house smells, how she slightly wheezes when she bends over, how the mustard and catsup bottles are always on the table with mismatched salt and pepper shakers and the chipped butter plate, how she, like me, does not bother to comb her hair.

I think I hear her calling and now I have to wait until Monday….

Til later…