Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's in a Name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

I have been doing folded books for several months now. Over that time, I've looked around for other examples of folded books on the Internet and have not found that many. My search terms have included "folded, books, book sculpture, folded pages, and upcycled books". The other day I found a site that included the term "altered book". My alarm bells went off.

I *know* what "altered" means in this day and age. It means you buy a whole bunch of off-the-shelf crud (in the scrapbook aisle) to paint, paste or otherwise "embellish" a found object to make it your own. I have to say I HATE the scrapbook craft of today. I hate that "scrapbook" has been turned into a verb. (I hate that "journal" has gone down the same road, too, but that is for another day...) What IS a scrapbook? It's a memory-reminder. It is the content that matters. Nowadays, people have been brainwashed into thinking it is the format and accessories that matter. I have scrapbooks, but they are filled with pictures that mark memories and events. They are not overwhelmed by layouts and embellishments. Pardon me, Layouts and Embellishments. Everybody's stuff looks the same. There is a minimum of content and a lot of decoration. Wasteful. Expensive. Mindless.

That goes for the altered books I saw in my search yesterday. My quest to find like-minded artmakers ended in despair as I saw the same old materials (scrapbooking-type) used in increasingly bizarre combinations (in the name of originality) to make a whole lot of nothing. Most altered books are colored in the same out-of-the-tube magenta, turquoise, lime, and yellow. Pasted with the same looking "vintage" color copy photos (with absolutely NO connection with the artmaker) - many with dunce caps - and embellished with cut-out words, glitter and rickrack. The problem is, this could be really neat! There are really original things you can do with books - think Su Blackwell, Nicholas Jones, Brian Dettmer and others. Someone else who is not as well-known, but I think is also on the track I'd like to pursue (is that the crux of the matter - what I like vs. what everyone else is doing? Neither is wrong? Pbbbbt!) is Karen J. Hatzigeorgiou. She actually does a bit of the stuff I hate, too. Go figure.

Rant over. I think what I'm trying to say, be original. Why the heck are you using a book as your foundational material? I am the last person to have a philosophy about art, so I can't ask "what are you trying to say" because that just leads people to spout obtuse mumbo-jumbo.

I do altered books, too, but it's not the way portrayed in the books you find in the store, using the materials bought at Michaels that EVERYONE uses because "that's what an altered book looks like." *sigh* I'm not where I want to be yet. I've only just begun on my journey, but I think that I'm on the road less traveled. And hopefully, that will make all the difference.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Working with a two-year old

I have a 21-month old child. It took me a long time to have a child in my life so I refuse to complain too much about how hard it is to do anything with him around. Well, at least, I refuse to complain often.

This week has been busy trying to get ready for Halloween. Somehow I got roped into making costumes for two little boys. Brian is really good at coming up with ideas, but not so good at implementing them. That's my job, apparently. *sigh*

Anyway, Alex's prince costume has turned out pretty well. I found a couple of dresses at the local thrift store that I was able to cannibalize into a relatively manly-looking outfit. He'll get to wear it three times this week, so he needs to like it.

Next year, the kids are all going as bags of garbage. Those are easier.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Color - FAIL!

For a while now, people have been asking me for colored beads. My gut feeling was that the colors would run when I dipped them in the sealer. Unfortunately for me, I was right. There go all my plans for colored holiday-themed jewelry.

Oh, well. It's one more way for my life to be simplified. If I had a billion colors to choose from as well as the sheer number of fonts I already have to choose from and the design of the beads (up, down, sideways, long, short) and the number of phrases and words to use, I could well go bonkers.

As if I'm already not well on my way...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Watercolor Weekend

This weekend we had Conference. For those people who are not familiar with Mormon-lingo, Conference is a twice-yearly meeting which is broadcast worldwide. When I was little, it meant getting dressed up and going to the church and sitting on hard folding chairs for two hours straight while listening to boring grown-ups talk about things WAAYY above my head. As I grew older, it was on cable and now my family and I watch it on the Internet (hooked up to the TV). I enjoy it more now, and not just because I get to sit on the couch and do crafts while I listen, but because I understand more of the concepts spoken about. It's a twice a year spiritual recharging and I love it.

Even though we had the kids and I cooked five full meals, I still found myself with *gasp* TIME!!! It had rained on Saturday and on Sunday, the sky was still full of puffy white clouds. It made for glorious light out on the patio. All gold and orange. I, with my watercolors, sat out at the patio table with Mackenzie, who played with Play-Doh while I worked on different pieces. I'm not as impatient as I was in my early years of painting. Now I'm able to work on a piece and let it sit and dry and then go back to it to add another layer or two. And then let that dry and go back to add more layers. And it goes on. It helps that I work on four or five paintings at a time. The above piece is one that I tried putting colored pencils on. I'm not sure about it.

And then I experimented with a different layout. Hmm...

Can you tell from the skyscapes that we actually had WEATHER here in Bakersfield? I love rain. I love weather. We don't have open skies, at least where I live, but I like to paint hugeness.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Yummy Day

I sit here at the computer, eating a salami and pepperoni sandwich that I made with my own two hands. No Subway for me today, baby! Nope, today has been a day of doing and I'm happy with what I've done.

It is Conference weekend and that means I get four glorious hours per day to do crafting while sitting in front of the TV, listening to the words of the prophets and other leaders. Hurray!

Today I worked on a book. A while back I made up a board with examples of all the types of folds I thought would be useful for my book sculptures. Today I brought the board out with me to the couch and figured which one I would do. So, I've been cutting the pictures out of the Reader's Digest Condensed book (one of my two favorites to use because of their size) and folding pages PREPARATORY to my folding them a second way tomorrow. Ha ha! See the picture below to check out what it looks like tonight.

After Conference, the kids went to their nana's to visit and Brian went to the Priesthood session. It was kind of funny how I ended up alone. The baby has a cold and so I thought he'd like to just be with me. I drove the kids all over to Nana's and the older two got out and I started driving away. Then Kenneth Calvin gets trembly lipped and says "Nana...". Huh? He CARES? So, I drove back and Nana came out the front door. I said to her that KC wanted her. She opened the car door and said to him, "Do you want to visit, too?" He looked at her and said, "TOYS!" Yep, that's what Nanas are good for.

So, with my unexpected alone time, I painted!

These two paintings are a representation of what I've been doing. I'm getting happier with the way they are turning out...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday

Yesterday I was able to finagle my work schedule to go in early and get off early. Because of that, my total work day was about 5 1/2 hours. If only I could work so little every day! I came home and got to spend some time with my husband. We had a good evening - I made chicken salad sandwiches for dinner, cookies for dessert, gave the kid three (count 'em!) baths (one for sweaty day, one for playing with mom's lipstick, one for playing in the hose on the patio), worked on beads (because Brian got the printer to work after a week!), and looked through recipe books.

I didn't feel a real need to work on watercolors because I accomplished enough to feel relaxed.

There are times where I wish I could support myself from my art - my watercolors, my folded book sculptures, or my jewelry - and I wonder if Heavenly Father has given me all the tools and I'm just failing to use them.

I guess I just have to try, huh?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Five Minute Watercolors

After working all day and then coming home to a house full of MORE stuff to do and worry about, I've been having trouble relaxing. Brian suggested I find something that I enjoy doing that could be done in 5-minute increments - meaning that he understands that I have little more than 5 minutes at a time to call my own. So I came up with my little watercolors.

I've always liked watercolor and, for some reason, only work small. Here is a sample of what I've been up to lately: