Tag Archives: collage

Altered book – Divine Comedy

3 Feb

“In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.”

I’ve been working 2 part time jobs now on top of everything else, so I’m behind on posting but I HAVE managed to get some art done in the last few weeks.

It started with some books from my favorite thrift store – the Goodwill Clearance Center (we call it The Binz). One was an old student copy of the Divine Comedy AKA Dante’s Inferno. It’s marked up with pencil notes and highlighted passages. The paper is yellow with age.

What an amazing book! I had a general idea of this classic but never read it. Since working with it I’ve become enchanted by it’s strange imagery and language.

The other book was a Winnie the Pooh board book. I read on another blog (?) about how board books are great for altering because of their thick sturdy pages. So I thought I’d try one.

I started by tearing up random pages of Dante and covering the whole board book with it (a total of 6 spreads plus a front and back cover).  I didn’t have a plan yet but I knew I had to get rid of Winnie. I read fragments of Dante’s journey as I tore it, and then researched it more online. Here’s a detailed summary if you’re interested.

There are many levels of meaning in the book and all kinds of juicy allegory and symbols. The structure has a magical numeric pattern to it: 9 levels of hell, 7 steps to the top of Mount Purgatory, plus 2 sub levels, and 9 spheres of heaven, plus the last invisble one where god lives. The book is made of 100 cantos, divided into canticles of 33 each, plus an intro canto. Nines, tens and threes all over the place.

I’m using 2 different ideas of the levels, one is like an elevator going up/going down in a steely corporate office building with straight lines and boxes on one side of the page. The other is made of curved torn scraps, spiralling in, a journey of self-discovery.

On the 1st spread I blotted on some gesso and rubbed charcoal into part of it to bring out the layers. Plan to do more of that.

Because Dante is on the ultimate journey, I decided to use an old Thomas Guide map of Los Angeles, my previous home. The City of Angels has often been called a paradise and has been luring people west for centuries. There are decidedly hellish aspects to the place as well. So I got a kick out of cutting up the San Fernando Valley into little cirrus clouds shapes and glueing them on.

I’ll share the rest of the idea as it develops.


Stage 2 Visual Journal Workshop

18 Jan

The second week of the workshop involved putting a semi-transparent layer of gesso over much of the page; drawing into it with oil pastels and charcoal; and adding handwriting/text as a mostly illegible pattern. Here are my 3 pages.

I’m still happiest with #3. The torn printing of the halo, and the shapes of the torn textured pieces nestled into the roots harken to my old work. I’ll find some pictures of that to post soon. I probably would never have used all those mediums on one page without the workshop instruction to nudge me. That’s a good thing.

Been working on a self portrait that started with the old fashioned technique of “put your face on the copy machine and see what comes out”. It’s got a gorgeous blackness to it and shows all the pores and gray hairs, but I like the strange distortion of it.

I’m trying to love the gray hairs and wrinkles, thus the self-portrait exploration.

I have several other possibly related elements that I hope to scan in and play with tonight.

Speaking of faces, check out Face a Day.


Sketchbook Recycled

10 Jan

I’ve been struggling with what to put on this blog. It’s one thing to play around with stream of conscious kinds of writing or artmaking in private, but another to plaster it on a virtual wall for all to see. The art school snob in me has been hanging out, smoking in the corner, looking aloof and disdainful. Yes, I see you over there judging me, girlfriend!

I signed up for the online Strathmore Recycled Journal workshop. It’s a 4 week (1x per) video class (free). Week 1 is about mining your old sketchbooks for images to reuse and collaging them. So I made some B&W copies of things I drew last year (when I started off with a bang as I am now, trying to inject art back into my life).

Here are the results. This is step 1. Step 2 will be to use gesso washes and oil pastels to alter the collages.

3rd page, my favorite, I was warmed up by this time

2nd page - probably too many elements

1st page, put the calendar in for the new year

I need better lighting on my art desk.

As I cut out the images and looked through my box of collage scraps to incorporate I felt a little anxious. I used to have complete faith in my ability to create something interesting and meaningful. I just knew something would happen if I set up the right conditions (permaculture).

It’s been so long since the conditions were right, the channel has become rusty, the faith is shaken. But after playing around for an hour it started to feel familiar and flow. Remembering things like how to integrate disparate pieces and exploring the line of what is too many ideas in one picture.


I found this story on the blog Citrine (via my new friend Cory) about recovering old work:

‘Nineteenth-century English poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote a series of sensual sonnets inspired by his relationship with his wife Elizabeth.  Before he could publish them, Elizabeth died.  He was so distraught he placed the only copy of his manuscript in the grave with her.  Years later, though, he decided the love poems were too good to consign forever to the oblivion of the dirt.  He had the coffin disinterred and recovered his work.
Draw inspiration from Rossetti’s change of heart.  Reclaim riches you once abandoned or left for dead.’
 — Rob Brezsny