Saturday, December 31, 2011

Altered Books

Since I can remember I have always had a love of books. Never did I imagine that I would do anything to a book but read it. When I learned about altered books, I experimented with an old book I found at Goodwill. As I started to tear and cut the pages (crosses self and says a prayer of protection to the god of books), I found myself excited at the possibilities that lay within those pages.

If you are not familiar with the term altered books is a form of
mixed media artwork that changes a book from its original form into a different form. Altered books may be as simple as adding a drawing or text to a page, or as complex as creating an intricate book sculpture. Lately I have come across some great examples of altered books. The first is from Brian Kasstle who hosts a blog called A Paper Bear. Here he has made a cover for a book on his family history:

My favorite altered books are those that have a sculptural element to them. This one from Jennifter Khoshbin titled, You're A Liar and Cheat, which appeals to my love of whimsy:

The next two blow me away. They are by Guy Laramee from Canada. I've tried to research how he accomplishes this, but have only uncovered sandblasting as a possible hint to his technique. While I can image possibly creating the first two, I cannot begin to imagine how to create these:

Later in this blog I will show some examples of my own work in altered books. For any of you that are interested in the artwork shown above, here are some links to get you started.

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Visual Journal

A visual journal can be used for many different ways of reflection. As the label states, it is a journal, a place to reflect on events, emotions, and even to work out how these may have impacted your thought process at a particular time. We use these extensively in Art Education classes, particularly to reflect on teaching experiences, to record ideas for lesson plans, to document artists lectures, museum visits, and to detail summative thoughts. I especially like to use it as a reference for ideas on lesson plans, books, and to record research on different artists. Then when I have a need to use these as examples they are all in one place. This is one entry I made during the end of the semester and I wasn't sure how I would get everything done:


Professors like to see your philosophy of teaching and this can change depending on the experiences you may have or different ideas that are presented in class. Because we art majors, it is important to make the images as important as the text. It is actually very relaxing to be able to take the time to do visual journaling. This is one sample from Fall 2011 semester:

My sister is a therapist and she facilitates women's therapy groups in which visual journaling is a method to work out emotions and issues. Those journals may differ from these, but all visual journals are a vehicle to explore your thought processes both visually and verbally. I have found lots of ideas to create pages by looking at magazines and books that are targeted to scrapbookers. Here is one last sample - it is an outsider artist I like, Nek Shand:

I'd encourage anyone to try keeping a visual journal, even if you don't think you are an "artist".  Many people are surprised at how fulfilling it can be, especially when there is no pressure to show anyone your work. Besides, you might surprise yourself and discover your have some hidden talents!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quiet Time

I've spent the last few days trying to figure out how to embed a slide show of my artwork into this blog and I have finally decided to let go - sooner or later I will get something on this site. Most of the visiting family have left now, my brother returning to Minnesota, my sister has returned to work (we live together), and their kids and grand-kids returning home to different parts of the world. I am left with the blissful quiet of the dog snoring and the cats softly padding around my room. Although I still have a million things to do, I've decided to laze around the house in my PJ's until I am forced to go to the store and stock the frig.

I still haven't decided how many credits to take this Spring. I've signed up for 15, which is more than I took last semester. I know it my art studio classes will be demanding of my time, but I really want to get my last required class in Exceptional Education over with. I am thinking I will attend the first class (it looks like it is a large lecture class) and possibly meet with the professor in order to make a final decision. I have three weeks left before I go back and I hope to return well rested and ready to go.

So far, it looks like my grades were good this semester, but I am on pins and needles because I have not yet found out what I ended up with in Art Education. I never feel certain about grades unless my professors give an idea of where you stand throughout the semester. So far my GPA is 3.84, so I guess I shouldn't worry. Hopefully when everything is over and done with I will get a job that suits me well. I have no idea what to expect regarding the climate of teaching in Wisconsin, but I can always go elsewhere if I need to.A lot of my decisions in life have been based on blind faith and I am hoping the Universe doesn't fail me now...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winter Break 2011

This is one of the few times a year that I feel I can sit down and just breathe. Classes have been keeping me busy and at the upper level they are quite challenging. I am very grateful to have this chance to have a little "do-over" as far as my education goes. Sometimes in classes I catch myself thinking about the younger students and wonder how they could be so irresponsible, then I have to remind myself that I was far worse at their age. It seems like many people would benefit with some life experience before attempting advanced degrees. My first go-round I learned independence and developed my social life. I was always a late bloomer, and I missed so much in high school. At age 56, I am still a late bloomer and glad that I am finally able to achieve a quality level of learning. It is so fun to learn about yourself at this age - there is so much to discover and I really feel sorry for people that think their life is over due to an arbitrary number that they choose to identify themselves with.

I have started to work on my portfolio so I am attempting to attach a slide show, if I can figure out how to do it <grin>. Working on the portfolio made me realize that I am just scratching the surface of what I want to do in my classes. I definitely want to push myself more to take advantage of all that UW-Milwaukee has to offer. I am starting to work out ideas for next semester. I am taking a ceramics portfolio class as well as an advanced experiments in wood fire class. Woot!

I hope to document all the wonderful things I am experiencing in this blog so that someday I have a record to remember it by. If you want to follow, be my guest, if not, that is OK too.