Virginia Woolf “…minds are threaded together… now any live mind is of the very same stuff as Plato and Euripides…It is this common mind that binds the whole world together and all the world is mind.”
My artist’s book Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf started with me finding a 1925 edition at an estate sale. In reading the book again, I admired Virginia Woolf’s skill in weaving events between one day and flashbacks in the life of Clarissa Dalloway. Virginia Woolf’s story addresses themes of that time: class differences; postwar recovery and prosperity; role of women; pre and post war expectations; post traumatic stress syndrome; colonialism; and mental illness. She gives her characters interior dimensions. As you read their internal dialogues, the characters become real and feel contemporary. To compose my imagery for the artist’s book, I watched the 1997 film Mrs. Dalloway with Vanessa Redgrave in the title role. The director Marleen Gorris skillfully sequenced events, alternating close ups and distant scenes, pairing people in parallel lives, and conveying the moral uncertainty of their lives.
From these film scenes, I created eighteen unique monotypes on the pages of Mrs. Dalloway, connecting passages in the book with scenes from the film, to follow the novel’s progression. The monotypes are glued onto the pages of the novel which are then glued onto backing paper (in the case of the accordion format) and reassembled in the book’s original cover or drumleaf bound with a handmade cover.
The process of making this artist’s book of Mrs. Dalloway gave me renewed appreciation for the intelligent style and depth of Virginia Woolf’s writing and her keen observations of contemporary life.
My altered books are products of discovery, bringing together books and films. A 1934 edition of Aristotle’s Poetics led me to Umberto Eco’s historical novel The Name of the Rose which led me to the film, The Name of the Rose, directed by Jean-Jacques Annand. I loved the suspense of the novel and the director’s faithful portrayal of 14th century Benedictine monastery life. Using the film as my guide, I created 18 monotypes which briefly tell the story in the novel. I printed the monotypes on the pages of Aristotle’s Poetics which plays a major role in the book and film. The monotypes were glued on an accordion book and mounted in the book’s original cover with dust jacket. There is an appropriate quote in the novel, “books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.” This book and my other altered books can be seen at 23 Sandy Gallery, 623 NE 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97232. http://www.23sandy.com
Working in a very green garden, I created the paper collage first to develop the composition. I looked for poetry, rhythm and color in the landscape. The collage process is quick and direct; while the painting process is refined and nuanced. The oil painting required several iterations on site and in the studio to build the value and color relationships and recreate the rhythm of the garden. One seems more successful than the other.
Allen Ginsberg offers 9 Points:
1. First thought, best thought
2. Observe what’s vivid
3. Notice what you notice
4. Catch yourself thinking
5. Ordinary mind includes external perceptions
6. Vividness is self-selecting
7. Subject is known by what she sees
8. Others can measure their vision by what we see
9. Candor ends paranoia
Just finished 31 small collages in this hand bound sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project and mailed it off yesterday to the Brooklyn Art Library. This cool organization has lots of ongoing projects. Check out http://www.sketchbookproject.com
My own assignment was to create abstract collages with bright Origami paper and glue and to make each one different and relate to the adjacent one. I was interested in color relationships, form relationships, and movement through space. I am fond of the primary colors of Jacob Lawrence and Milton Avery, the abstractions of Paul Klee and Kandinsky, and the collages of Matisse.
My collage sketchbook will return to the Pacific Northwest on the 2014 Sketchbook Project tour and then be housed permanently in the Brooklyn Art Library. All pages will be digitized sometime next year.
Before shelving my completed sketchbook, I thought what and who captured my attention for over 2 years. Here is the list of the people that found their way into this sketchbook:
Painters: Jim Nutt; Gabriel Laderman; Max Pechstein; Andy Warhol; Cezanne; Trude Parkinson; Mary Josephson; Manet; Cy Twombly; Mark Andres; Sandy Roumagaux; Henk Pender; Laura Ross Paul; Morgan Walker; Velazquez; Trish Harding; Lucien Freud; Lyonel Feininger; Frans Hall; Margot Voorhies Thompson; Rick Bartow; Sanje Elliot; Sean Cain; Fritz Scholder; June Wayne; Moses Soyer; Francoise Gilot; Leigh Hyams; Milton Avery; William Park; Randall David Tipton; Gerhard Richter; Lucinda Parker; ; Melinda Thorsnes; Walter Mruk; ; Linda Christensen; Matisse; John Heliker; Leland Bell; Chuck O’Connor; Sally Cleveland; Aimee Erickson; Arvie Smith; Grant Hottle; ; Faith Emerson; Oskar Kokoschka; Rembrandt; Lisa Esherick; Susan Harlan; Marlene Dumas; Walton Ford; Levi Fagereng; George Johanson; Norma Flynn; Sherrie Wolf; Peter Doig; Peter Beers; Pat Steir; Deborah Orapollo; Vermeer; Bonnard; Fairfield Porter; Edward Hopper; Elmer Bischoff; Richard Diebenkorn; Hilma af Klint; Howard Hodgkin; Per Kirkeby; Andre Derain; Larry Rivers; John Constable
Books and Writers: Alice Neel, Painted Truths; Alexander Melamid, Art Healing Ministry; John Berger, The Shape of a Pocket; Philip Guston, Conversation, Interviews, Writings; James Elkin, What Painting Is; George Hitchcock and kayak Magazine; Paul Reynard; Joan Mitchell, “Lady Painter; Geoff Dyer; Wallace Stevens; Barry Johnson; Adrienne Rich; Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, “Flow”; Robert Hass, “What Light Can Do”; “Steal Like an Artist”; and Candy Jernigan.
Other: Barry Michaels; Alexander McQueen; Terence Davies; Martha Graham; and Stephen Greenblatt
Sculptors: Sheila Hicks, Keith Goodhart; James Frame; and Mar Gorman
Collagists: Kurt Schwittzers; Romare Bearden; Eunice Parsons; and Mikalene Thomas
Printers: Kim Osgood; Kerry James Marshall; Enrique Flores; Patrick Oliphant; and Royal Nebeker
Photographers: Julie Blackmon; Ron Cronin; Vik Muniz; Cindy Sherman; Carrie Mae Weems; Myron Filene
How to make sense of this list? This group of artists spans over 200 years. Most of them are figurative painters, almost half are local artists and many use multiple art forms. I work in several sketchbooks at a time. I have one for printing, one for daily images, one for notes and clippings, and another for travels. This completed sketchbook is only a partial record of my last 2+ years. One thing I have learned is that a sketchbook needs to be close at hand.
Leigh Hyams died in March 2013, at the age of 86. During our times together, I was renewed, confronted, and inspired. I made this flag book in tribute to Leigh at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Leigh’s writings, photos, and paintings from the memorial program cover the back and front of the book. Why was she a remarkable teacher for me? In the April 8, 2013 issue of The New Yorker, Jeremy Denk wrote about significant teachers in his music life. His words resonated with me:
“…while the teacher is trying to express the truth about the student and discover what isn’t working, the student is in some way trying to elude discovery, disguising weaknesses in order to seem better than she is. In this complicated situation, a teacher must walk a thin line, destroying complacency without destroying confidence.”
“Ninety percent of a teacher’s job is directing students to read what’s plainly on the page. The other ten percent is attempting to incite their imagination about what’s behind and between the notes, what could never be written down in any score – and sometimes this seems unreachable, like the creation of life itself.”
“There’s a labyrinth of voices inside your head, a counterpoint of self-awareness and remembered sayings of your guides and mentor, who don’t always agree. Sometimes you wish you could go back and ask your teachers again to guide you; but up there onstage, exactly where they always wanted you to be, you must simply find your way. They have given all the help they can; the only person who can solve the labyrinth of yourself is you.”
Altered book with 16 monotypes based on two O. Henry short stories, “The Cop and The Anthem” and “The Ransom of Red Chief” and the film adaptations in O. Henry’s Full House, printed on the pages of 1922 O. Henry Memorial Award Short Stories and rebound in original cover. This book and other monotype books that I created will be on display at the 8th Annual William Park Studio Member Show: Friday, May 31, 5-9 pm; Saturday, June 1, 12 -5; Sunday, June 2, 12-5, 2637 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. Portland, Oregon
Pink Barn was painted at Mountain Home Ranch in Calistoga in early May. At the time, I was studying Wassily Kandinsky’s early work, Der Blaue Reiter, and his development of a new kind of language or “positive reality”. This painting was selected for a juried exhibition “Open” at Portland State University for January 2013.
My collage is a study of Milton Avery’s Reclining Reader (1950). Patrick Michael Fitzgerald was quoted in Painters-Table.com “There are moments of doing nothing, of being mentally or emotionally engaged but without physically working…Learning what not to do and what to avoid is just as important as what I chose to do.”
I made a small construction paper collage of Milton Avery painting of his wife Sally, dated 1946. I admire Avery’s colors, forms and lines, but I most admire the structure or composition in his paintings. Avery stated “I am not seeking pure abstraction’ rather, the purity and essence of the idea – expressed in its simplest form.” Book reference: Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon