Friday, March 28, 2008


Top: Altered book "Portals" double pages, left side.
Bottom: Altered book "Portals" double pages, right side.
At last, a set of pages in my altered book that do not revolve around a song! I have always been fascinated with portals, or doorways. What mysteries lie beyond these portals? Shall we take the chance, or shall we be safe and pass? We may, like Mary Lennox, find a Secret Garden. Or, we may unleash a horrible monster.
I remember reading, in grade school, the story of "The Lady and the Tiger". If the protagonist chose the correct door, he would find his lady love. However, if he chose the wrong door, he would be devoured by the fierce tiger behind the door.
Even into the 20th Century, game show participants had the choice of gifts behind "Door Number One, Door Number Two, or Door Number Three?"
I love the golden, antique white and brown tones of these pages, but am once again dissatisfied with the stark white behind the words. I will probably rub on some ink pigment here as well.
NOTE ADDED LATER: I went back and rubbed some stamping ink over the printed words and part of the pages as well. It is "Vanilla Bean" Vintage brand ink and works extremely well.


Top: "Spring Clean for the May Queen" altered book double page, left side.
Bottom: "Spring Clean for the May Queen" altered book double page, right side.
I mentioned in my previous post that I consider "Stairway to Heaven" to be the best rock song ever. Why then, should I not create at least two double ages in honor of the song? What I love so much about "Stairway" is that it is at least three or four songs in one. It starts very slowly, almost as an English folk ballad. By the end, it's as head-banging as a rock 'n roll song can get.
In these pages, I tried to capture the mystical, whimsical side of the song, in which the fairies/fae/wee folk have a spring cleaning in the forest for the "May Queen", or the Queen of Beltaine (May 1, the beginning of spring for the Celts).
I love that there there is a bit of threat in the song: "If there is a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now." Is it just a hedgehog or hare? (I'm going with English imagery here, in honor of the members of Led Zeppelin.) Or will the Queen of the Fae, as legend goes, freeze you in her glance and cart you away to fairyland forever?
I love the little winged girl. I can just imagine her tinkling laughter as she secretly flits among the trees. Did you really hear her, or is it just bird song?
The foxgloves are from a greeting card I received years ago - a great way to recycle it, I think. As with the other "Stairway" pages, I will probably obscure more of the background and tone down the paper the verses are printed on.
NOTE ADDED LATER: I went back and obscured the background and verse borders with lavender acrylic paint.


Top Photo: "Stairway to Heaven" altered book double page - left side.
Bottom Photo: "Stairway to Heaven" altered book double page - right side
Honestly, I really did not set out to have most of the pages in my altered book be based on song lyrics. It just turned out that way. This is the third song in the book, "Stairway to Heaven". Performed by Led Zeppelin, it's the best rock song ever, in my opinion.
Here, I have left a lot of the words of the original book showing, but that may change before I send it out to the next round robin participant. I am also not thrilled with the stark whiteness of the paper behind the lettering. I may "subdue" it a bit by rubbing some rubber stamp ink across the lettering.
I re-worked these pages many times until I was ultimately (somewhat) satisfied with them. They started out as pages in my visual journal. In fact, I have re-worked and re-worked them to the point of hopelessly damaging one of the original images.
I wanted my emphasis here to be on a type of woman who is, I believe, the antithesis of me. I am definitely not a person who thinks she can always get "what she came for", and I am not a material girl. My message to her is subtle, but there: "Your stairway lies on the whispering wind."
It's funny what you see after the fact. After I scanned and posted the left page, I could see that the "Dear Lady" phrase was crooked. This really bugged me, so I went back and re-did it.
NOTE ADDED LATER: I went back and altered the lettering with "Vanilla Bean" Vintage-brand ink (looks golden). I am very pleased with the results.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Top: "White Bird", left-hand page (not
that stray piece of paper again!!)
Bottom: "White Bird", right-hand page

This is another set of pages in my altered book. I don't know if I really have the altered book concept down pat - I covered up 95% of the words in "Suzanne", and about 99% of the words here.

I actually did these two pages first. I learned a couple of important technique pointers: Don't lay down too much paint, and don't just stick the clipping on the wet page (it wrinkles!!).

I don't know how many people know the song, released in 1969 by It's a Beautiful Day. It's really quite a dark and melancholy song, though extremely beautiful. I haven't actually heard this song for maybe 30 years but it has never left my mind.


Top: Left Page (There is no piece
of paper on the plant - scanning error!)
Bottom: Right Page

These are my first efforts in the altered book realm. I wrote a post a few days ago in my regular blog on the subject of Leonard Cohen's song, "Suzanne." Here is the artistic representation of the emotions the song stirs in me.

I wanted to give it a very boho feel, both with interior and exterior scenes. I featured six women, all of whom are facets of Suzanne, who, is believe, is a part of every woman. I used acrylic paints, magazine clippings, computer printouts and, a Post-It note. I realized there was too much blue so I brought in green at the end.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


As you can see, while I was enrolled in my visual journaling class last year, I was very prolific and motivated to produce art. My job ended abruptly just about the same time the classes were over, and I lost my motivation. I lost hope.

I found this accordion book on sale for $2.50 at Hobby Lobby and used it as the basis of a series of variations on the theme of Emily Dickinson's "Hope" poem (see previous post).
There are still many pages left in this accordion book, and I still have lots of images to use. I would dearly like to regain my motivation - and my hope - and finish the book.

Below: My hopes for 2007. Some came true, some didn't.

Below: Emily's poem and her portrait.

Below: Front cover with metal "Hope" plate and ribbon and bead trim.

I used a lot of browns and other subtle colors because I always think of Emily Dickinson as being a shy, quiet, even drab wren. But Emily, like wrens, could trill the most beautiful notes when she wanted to.


(Click on picture to enlarge)

I sent this piece along with two others to a magazine, the first and only time I have ever submitted anything for publication. All three were rejected. I was prepared for rejection, but not for the reason they stated. They said they "did not fit the theme" they had requested, "Autumn in Tuscany."

I found that extremely baffling and upsetting, especially considering that all three pieces did fit the theme, and what they eventually accepted for that issue. (Just how do American cowboys and Indians fit into that theme?)


This was my "final" for my visual journaling class. It is based on the Emily Dickinson poem with the lines: "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul."

My teacher was very enthusiastic about these pages (I seem to do a lot of pieces in groups of two), and I was pleased with them at the time. However, I looked at them not long ago and just wanted to rip them up and start over. Always, always a problem with composition.

Materials used: pottery beads with string, magazine images, photocopy, plastic dragonflies, skeletonized leaves, torn paper, gold vellum, brads, cutout letters, fiber for nest (with cutout paper eggs).


A melange of images illustrating my feelings regarding the value of education in the liberal arts. Some of my collages are of the "fill every inch of the page" school of thought, and this is one of them.


This is the cover of my Sacred Journeys visual journal. I do like it - a lot - because I think it reveals a lot about who I am. But - and there is always a but - I learned something important while doing the cover: Don't use too much Mod Podge!
There are always lessons to be learned.


This is one of my very first efforts at collage, and it is the only one I will show in this blog that was an effort to copy a piece from a magazine. I fell in love with "Letters Mingle Souls" as shown in Somerset Studios magazine. I bought the very same stamps and followed the directions.

In the process, it came out differently enough so that it can stand on its own. Consequently, I do think it is valuable for magazines to print directions along with the art they publish. If nothing else, one learns new techniques.

The photo is of an "instant ancestor", found at a flea market. I used real postage stamps, and an actual sealing wax seal in the bottom right-hand corner.


This is another self-imposed "exercise" based upon the book "True Colors." I started out pairing different shades of blue with ochre, but noticed I added a lot of brown tones as well.


These pages from my visual journal were done shortly after my daughter nearly died of an often-fatal illness. It's about faith, and about the guardian angels whom I feel have always surrounded Kristen.
It really helped me to pour out my feelings into these pages.


These pieces were done in a visual journaling class, under the theme of "Use What You Have. "The instructor gave each of us a manila envelope filled with random found materials and items from nature such as dried grasses and weeds.

We had just 20 minutes to do each piece before stopping abruptly and going on to the next one. For some reason, I found this exercise extremely easy to do, and the work and time just flowed.

Our teacher's point was well taken: You don't have to buy expensive art supplies. Find things around you with which to make art.




These two pages were done when I was deep into studying the art book "True Colors" by Somerset Studio. In this book, 15 artists exchanged round robin journals in which each page was created with a strict color palette chosen by the book's originator.
"True Colors" costs about $30.00 but it is worth every single penny.
The composition of these pages is terrible, but I was pleased by the juxtaposition of the sepia, brown and ecru colors. It was a good way to use some of my many images of graveyard angels. (I am fascinated by graveyard angels.)


These two pages were done when I desperately needed a taste of sunshine and color in my life. I now consider them to be very busy. If I were to do these pages again I would not have covered them in words going every which way.


This is a page from my visual journal. It reveals my feelings of what it means to be a Celt.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


(Click on photo to enlarge)

I was inspired to do this collage by two things:

The artist trading card, "A Bit Bohemian", in the upper left hand corner, created and sent to me by Lila of "Indigo Pears."

Reading the book, "Luncheon of the Boating Party" which glorifies the Bohemian life of Paris in Renoir's time.

It's the first time I've ever done a "collaboration" incorporating the original work of another artist. I can't really call it a collaboration, since Lila wasn't aware that I was going to use her ATC. She did approve, though!


(Click on pictures to enlarge)

"I've talked to a lot of women my age, and they say it all goes back to cutting out paper dolls. When women get together and cut out or color in, I notice an almost going-back-to-childhood feel in the atmosphere in the room, and it's an escape. That's what's magical and delightful - it's almost a return to something in your childhood."
I wish I could remember the name of the person who wrote that quote, which I have included in my "Magic of Art" collages. The collages are actually meant to be viewed as one piece when the two pages are placed side by side, with the top collage on the left and the bottom collage on the right.
Although it's difficult to read most of the quotes even when you click on the pictures to enlarge them, I chose these collages to be the basis of my Art and Poetry blog's banner, designed by Mary at Isabella's Closet.
I have placed the quote "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time" in a prominent spot at the top of the blog.
It is my statement of art, as it were. I thought I'd throw the "as it were in" for fun. My brother, Ron, always used that phrase and it made him sound so pretentious. I don't mean to be pretentious at all. In fact, I'm aiming for the opposite.
I don't consider myself an artist, because I don't draw. However, I do have an irresistible urge to cut and color and paste. I have a lot of art materials going to waste, and I hope that by opening this blog I will be encouraged, stimulated and even shamed into using them!
If you read my regular blog you will find the first entries to be drawn from posts on my "Celtic Lady" blog, but I am working on new projects, including my first altered book.
So, this is it: "Just Julie." I'm going to have fun and be a kid and try not to let the grown up, internal critic get in my way.