Thursday, July 9, 2015

Altered Book Project #2

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I've begun work on a new altered book project. This one will have a nature theme running through it. Although I wrote out all my intentions for this project on the first page spread seen here, (it was subsequently covered up by layers of mixed media) the real intention for this project actually came out when I found a quote that I wanted to include on the page.  

"...part of the process is to re-enchant the world of nature." T.A. Mann from The Sacred Language of Trees

I had lots of intentions going in which were very intellectual, exploring the archetypes of nature, exploring our relationship to nature, and several other lofty ideas. Yet it was so clear to me by the end of my first page spread that this book was going to be about re-enchanting nature. I'm glad I got all my intellectual ruminations out at the beginning and that they are still there somewhere buried under juicy layers of paint, ink, stencils, marks, photos and other imagery. 

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Some of you may be wondering what an altered book is, and what art journaling is compared to keeping and artist's journal or sketchbook journal,  An altered book begins by using an existing book , typically used from a library book sale, used book store, tag sale etc. You can either just begin creating artwork right on the pages of your book or you can prepare the pages in various ways to help them stand up to the mixed media you'll be using. In this book I removed about half the pages to make room for all the collage and additional layers of paint I would be using. Then I glued pages together to make fewer but sturdier pages. Finally I applied a coat of gesso to all the new pages. You can read about my first altered book project with more explanations HERE

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This altered book  is also an art journal. An art journal is a book (altered or simply a blank sketchbook or writing journal) which is used to contain art made on each page. Typically it's mixed media work, but it could also be a single media. Art journals are usually personal art, meaning that people make them for the sheer love of creating, for self exploration, for relaxation, as a spiritual practice and for many other personal reasons. A sketchbook is typically a place for sketching from life. Sometimes that takes the form of a nature journal, urban sketching or simply documenting your life.  And artist's journal may contain both elements, as well as other things like color experiments or tests of new materials, or any other creative pursuits like hand carved stamps or even some collage, but usually the focus is on recording your daily life. All of them usually include some writing and a lot of visual images. None of these terms is set in stone and people use them in different ways.

In the nice weather, spring, summer and fall, my regular daily sketchbook tends to be a lot of nature journaling, But it will also contain sketches from outings to museums, zoos, the beach etc, It might also contain sketches from restaurants, people sketches, my dogs flowers and veggies from my garden and any number of other things. In the winter when I'm inside mostly my sketchbook tends to become a playground for more experimental work and lots of sketches of the views from my windows.

It was that experimental work during the winter months that led me to want to create separate art journals where I could really delve into mixed media.

I was introduced to altered books at a class I  took about seven years ago. I  made my very first altered book back then.  

The book as a container for our experiences both in the world and within ourselves fascinates me and I'm really enjoying the altered book process as well as the mixed media journaling. A lot of really wonderful, beautiful things happen when we embrace our creativity and make space and time for ourselves to honor the images and words we use to express our inner lives. 

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