I have an obsession for blank artist’s books. Unlined, of course. I use them as a sort of diary, writing whatever comes to mind. I make lists, jot down dreams and phone numbers, and make more lists. I also tape in images from things that inspire me, like flyers or postcards. By the time I’m done with one of these books, it’s spine is breaking from overuse. But I have a problem using one of these books exactly as they are when I buy them. I have to make them into art first. So, I find images that I’m especially excited about, that might serve as an inspirational source for what the book will contain inside. I gesso the covers a few times and I soak the images in warm water. Then I dry off the excess water from the paper and apply them to the surface with matte or gloss medium. Then I paint over the images until I like the composition and then, finally, I seal the covers in Polycrylic so it can handle the wear and tear I put them through. I love to collage and I think the journals that I work on are perhaps the best representation of the kind of usable art that I like. They are specifically created to create more art.
The journal featured in this post is titled “America” and has been painted with acrylics and ink. The skull and heart images are from a postcard about a play. The red paper is from the Academy of Art’s admissions book and the fabric flag is a left over remnant of post 9/11 patriotic fervor.
Here we have the back cover of “America.” It features a cover from a Nightcrawler comic, a Spider-Man sticker and a page of the Tao Ching. This piece involved a lot of marking over the paint while it was still wet with sticks, dried markers and pins. I couldn’t get enough tecture to satisfy me. If it were a wall painting I think I would have gone further with the layers. I did find the ink and paint combinations to be satisfying.
This is the original collage composition. Much of the words from the Academy of Art admissions booklet got covered by paint in the end. I didn’t collage anything in the upper left hand corner on the back cover because I knew I wanted it to be more painterly. That’s a rare occurence as I usually like to cover everything and let chance take over. What starts as a very precise composition exercise evolves into something more organic.
This piece is on display and can be purchased at Swankety Swank, a San Francisco gallery and boutique specializing in conscious consumer commodities.