“Artissima Transitiona” I

“Artissima Transitiona” I

Three years ago, for a number of reasons. my husband and I moved to Los Angeles…Santa Monica to be exact.   Since that time, I  have become involved with the making, study and teaching of artist’s books. I teach bookmaking around Santa Monica and LA County, and am continuously  evolving my own expression of this unique art form. Bookmaking, creating handmade books, unique books, artist’s books, and the book arts overlap as activities. In essence, they employ the form of The Book as an expressive vehicle.

WEBe

I have been the principal of my own decorative painting company, ArtiFactory Studio, for many years, primarily in San Francisco, where I resided, also for many years. In this post, I begin to share how I am finding ways to put these two forms together, one, bookmaking, often associated with the small-scale and intimate, and the other, decorative painting, often large-scale, which includes mural painting, glazing, faux finishing, gilding, and a myriad of other ways of “treating” the built environment, IE, the environment created by us humans as the setting for our activities.

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I hope to approach this subject in a series of posts, each showing a slice of what I am doing, and hope to do. I am fascinated with notions of scale, with materials, texture, space and design, as well as with the expressive, provocative,  and multidisciplinary nature of handmade books. In this post,  I will share how I brought techniques and notions specific to the field of decorative painting to the form of The Book in my own work. This process has been part of a greater transition in my life, work, business and career on all fronts.  Hence the post’s title” Artissima Transitiona“. The transition continues…

WEBa1Gilding, or the act of adhering metallic leaf over a surface adds a bit of bling, depth and dimension to an already complex surface on this handmade book cover. The gold rectangle also provides a focal point for the eye to rest on, adding order, focus and coherence to the piece. A piece of board was gilded, then added to the surface collage.

web1Texture can be a huge part of decorative painting. The artist manipulates glazes, paints and other materials over a surface to create both visual and physical texture. Here crumpled tissue paper is adhered to the surface in layers, giving it a satisfying texture, variation of color, and contrast to the look, and feel of the other materials used, which include cloth, hemp cord, beads and paper media.

WEB2The covers of this book are made of boards that have been dragged or “Striéd“, a technique by which paint or glaze is applied to a surface, and a large stiff brush is used to drag through it while it is still wet, leaving a up and down stripe-like pattern/texture.

WEB4Here a “brown paper bag” feeling is created by using humble brown wrapping paper (and bags) to create an earthy  texture on the surface of this book’s covers. Individual pieces of hemp cord are used for the binding, adding to the homespun simplicity and feel.

WEB5This book is created from boards that were originally painted with metallic paint and glaze samples for a client. I loved how these samples looked together, and added the rust, iron and verdigris sample pieces above them.  The rest of the book is made of paper with plant material flowing through it.  It  is bound with linen thread in a  single signature  (gathering of folded pages).

WEBaFinally, here is a book with an accordion spine; a “found” spine…meaning that I happened upon a design brochure, and its size, weight and color worked perfectly the book I developed. The covers are made of paper that has been textured, painted and glazed, then glued onto boards. The contrasting “edge design” is created by the addition of another painted and glazed decorative painting sample, glued on the open edge, then folded over, and glued onto the inside of each cover, giving it more stability, integrity, and visual interest.

I hope you will join me as I journey through this time of creative transition, exploration, and discovery. Although the waters feel uncharted, there are plenty of inspirational and provocative artists, makers and craftspeople to help light the way.  Here’s to diving in!

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E-Lumen-8: Part 2 Take 1

E-Lumen-8:  Part 2 Take 1

Leaf Love

I recently participated in a holiday gift show, and created a collection of my “Artissima Lumens” (painted light switch covers) to show and sell.

In that spirit, I decided to document the process, and also create a sort of show and tell.

In posting, I decided to move “backwards” in time…starting with the finished creations, and then showing how they were made, start to finish, er,  finish to start.

Star Burst

Both the fascination and the frustration, ah-challenge, of painting on such a small canvas is, just that. Light switch plates  are such a small canvas, especially the “rocker” style light switch plate.

No, we are not talking Mick Jagger here…we are talking the type of frame-like light switch plate that has a rectangular opening designed to surround  a rocker style light switch.  The “canvas” area exists in just that small frame.

Ivy Trail

So why do it?

Why take on such a potentially frustratingly limited space for creativity?

I See the Moon

Well…the challenge and allure of  creating a miniature, for one thing.   It is fascinating to see what can be done on a limited surface space…with the limitations imposed both by the form and the function of the object.

How does one “use’ the opening as part of the composition?  Knowing, of course, that the light switch itself will change position continually as it is used for what it is designed to be used for: let there be light!

E-Lumen-8 your Life!

Do the “Lumens”  then become tiny pieces of performance art? “E-Lumen-8-ed’ not only by the burst of light when the switch is flicked, but also by the intentional movement of the client/owner/user when they reach out, and press, push, flick or rock that light switch?

Does the user become an unwitting collaborator in the “performance’ when they complete the action necessary to get use from an essentially utilitarian object?

An object that is surrounded by the embellished work that remains stationary, and yet is enlivened by the action it surrounds, like a miniature theater?

Does the user then become the performer?

Does the “Artissima Lumen” function merely as a frame for the utilitarian light switch, or does it employ the switch itself as a moving part of the whole? Does it employ the user as performer by engaging him or her to complete a necessary action?

Lotza Lumens

Such questions of form and function, concept and adornment, use and decor, object and action, creator and performer…may underlie some of our very motivation to create.

They won’t be answered in or by this post…but they are fascinating to contemplate!