Picture and Words Project: Limbo

This post should have two photos, a drawing I’m working on, and what I wrote on the back of the paper.

I started this particular drawing at the beginning of August. One of the key ideas about drawing that I wrote about and is important to me is the not knowing how the drawing will end up or look, and trusting the process and the mystery and enjoying it. That is one thing that connects this drawing process to the Altered Books I’ve been writing a lot about. You don’t know what will happen next, or if you will cover what you’re doing now or how things will end up. The book just unfolds as you make it, like with drawing…

Here’s what I wrote while continuing the drawing two months later:

” I started this drawing in August. Sometimes it’s hard to pick up a drawing from a while ago. I can’t get back in it, or I don’t know if it’s perhaps finsihed. This drawing is very unfinished and I felt like going back into it. Sometimes when I use a lot of colors and all different pens, I get frustrated with there being too much color. Then I cover it with a dark color to get it to feel less chaotic. For some reason, this drawing didn’t give me the urge to cover it. I got the urge to fill it up and started on the left side but jumped to the far right side. I haven’t used this paper in a while. It’s think. Also it’s not smooth so you sometimes have to press into it. This drawing still feels like it’s about freedom. Anything can happen next time I work on it. Do I fill up all the white space of leave some of it alone? Is it another cityscape? Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know. It’s a weird limbo. Maybe the title is Limbo. Then I look at it again and feel impatient. I want to finish it quickly. Then when I pick up a pen, I just draw and don’t care about it taking hours more. Would it look different if I spent 3 full hours on it instead of 15-20 minutes at a time? Not knowing is a big part of drawing for me. It’s none of my business how this will look. All I know is the now of drawing it.”

Advertisements

Altered Books Process: The Invitation

I had a very long document about the stages of making altered books with clients, so I decided to make it into shorter parts and post each part separately on this blog.

This is about the stages of the evolution of the making of the altered books, and the activities and art therapy “directives” I recommend using. The first part is of course the beginning, which is the introduction to the project. I’m changing the document by including some examples from my experience. The beginning part is perhaps the most important part of the process, as many clients stop/abandon their chosen book at some time during this process.

The first part I call “The Invitation”. I’ve found it works best when the invitation comes from one of my altered books out in my studio; the client sees an altered book and asks about it, so I bring one or two out to show them what it involves and then invite them to do one if they seem interesteed. Often I get excited when they are interested and have to be careful to watch my enthusiasm level. at times I’ve brought the project up as an option, when a client is looking for a new project and seems to want something unusual and unfamiliar.

In some cases people will want to bring in one of their own books that they have a personal connection to. Pertinant Issues to Process include the client’s relationships with books, reading books, and with writing, and what it is like to contemplate using a book to make art with. Usually, given that most people are unfamiliar with altered books and are uncomfortable with treating a book this way, they will find it easier to choose a book you have in your office.

If the client chooses to try the project, I bring out a bunch of different kinds of books to choose from and explain how it can be easier to pick one of these than to bring one from home. It is best to have a variety of choices of books that you supply, so the person does not feel like they have to “ruin” a book of their own and feel that the therapist will hold the “bad” part by giving permission to “destroy” a published book. Most of the time, the client chooses one of my books and we dive into the process.

At this point I have to decide whether I am going to do an altered book with the client, in “parallel process”,  or sit with the client and witness their process without doing one myself. It’s not much different from other times when I decide to do artwork in the session. Sometimes I will ask the client directly, “Will it help you if I do one while you’re doing yours?” In some cases I do start one and then can be aware of times in a session when I stop working on mine and just have it in front of me, as the choice is still there to not actively do mine alongside the client. It’s an important moment to be aware of when a client who naturally talks and makes any kibooksnd of art in the session chooses to stop what they’re doing and start verbal processing, and when they turn back to the art work. My clients tend to talk during the art making process, and thus, we have two dialogues going on, the verbal and the non-verbal. With altered books this is the same.

On several occasions I have had a client follow through on bringing in their own book to use, which has been memorable, as most do not. One graduate student of a psychology related program brought in a copy of the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), and had the obvious goal of getting out their frustration with all different aspects of the program and being a grad student. I was able to find on hand a copy of a Melanie Klein for Dummies book and decided to alter it while my client altered the DSM 5.

At this point, we have the book or books and are ready for the next stage.

Altered Book Project Update

I was going to try to keep up on a daily basis with this new Altered Book, but everything got away with me. The Altered Book has a life of its own. These are photos from Sept. 7 until yesterday; I have photos from today for another post. As the book is on a page full of wet stuff, I can’t take photos of other pages I’ve changed, so I will comment on these photos below spanning about 22 days!

These photos represent the phase after beginning described in the last post. You’re getting deeper into the book and discovering more, but still adding first layers you will probably return to; thus, there is no pressure about having a finished page…

I also think of this as the chaotic jumping off creative period I would associate to the Fool Card in the Tarot; anything goes, and weird unplanned stuff happens; I felt like I was starting all over, as if this book was my first altered book project…

This is a page I had fun using more paint and glitter glue after the two below. The theme is introduced for this phase of  covering pages in the book and putting something on them to start the process of making the book mine.

I use binder clips often to hold together pages. The page on the right is the table of contents. I thought I was going to leave some of the text but most of it is already covered up. I used white out and pen and then a lot of clear glue on top with the black glitter glue. On the left you can see some white marks from trying to cover text with oil pastel.

The next pages are the forward that I covered with white oil pastel and crayon.

Here, above, and in the photo below, you can see how I’m trying to cover several sets of pages with white and black acrylic and use binder clips to keep them from curling up and getting stuck to each other. The most annoying part of the process is having to wait for wet media to dry so I can work on top of it!

Below is some commentary and an attempt to write about my own secret regarding wanting to write and finish my own book, called “The Art Box”. It seemed fitting to write about it in this book, but it may end up getting covered up with something… I considered not posting this page right away, as I felt some kind of weird embarrassment about it.

Using Personal Things from your life, or pieces of them: I recently sold a drawing to a friend in Berlin through her seeing my latest work on Facebook; I got her check from Germany and liked the paper she wrote on, so I put it in the book. This is the point when I started collecting personal items or finding notes and things that I kept around wondering what to do with them, and finally had a proper place for…

I have told clients countless times to bring in personal photos to add to their altered books and to other art work. I have done this before, but not much, and not this way. I found a photo I took recently of street art and printed it out. The colors are vibrant and it might even look like it was painted onto the page. It also ended up being part of a new exploration of faces that came up out of the blue recently… Synchronicity.

The above photo is upside down. I cut up pieces from a restaurant experience. The server gave us paper and crayons. The drawings are my 11 year old’s doodles.

 

This is an example of a page that was ripped off so you can see the next page underneath. More drawings from the restaurant and the drawing under the second page where you can still see the chapter title (How to Use the Secret) are glued and taped on. That drawing is one of mine I found that I never finished… Same with the photo of the page below.