The beard album

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The idea of miniature men with beards has consumed me for the last few weeks, beginning with the ones drawn on drafting film with a brush pen (see here). This book was conceived to be like a Victorian photo album, full of serious looking people sitting very still. These are serious looking men, some from the modern era, some from earlier days, with their only link being that they have beards. Their beards are clearly an important part of their identity, often worn with a swagger, and generally beautifully kept, trimmed and neat. The modern ones may even use beard balm – a product I have only recently come across.

The book is made as a concertina, with windows decorated with punched holes to surround each face. Each drawing was as crisp as I could make it. The ones inside are 25 x 25 mm and the one on the cover is a little larger, being 30 mm deep. They are drawn with graphite pencil. I do my initial drawings much larger, spilling out of an A4 sketchbook, then I scan them, reduce them to the size required then redraw from that.

The album pages are paper with a marbled texture to them, and the cover is red leather, with punched holes and gold thread stitched and woven around the aperture. The cover is very simply made, simply cut to size with a very sharp knife, the folds for the spine made with pressure from a bone folder pressed along the edges. The drawing for the front was taped in place, then a piece of the same paper as the concertina glued on top, then the concertina glued to the back cover. The black leather straps for closing the album are inserted through small slits cut in the spine of the book, and then wrap around to be tied at the back.

This album will be submitted for the miniature art exhibition which will be held in Sydney in May at Juniper Hall in Paddington.

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Circle of Life collaboration

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Almost a year ago I embarked on an artistic adventure with three co-travellers. We didn’t know each other, but we all knew one another’s work through our blogs. Each of us was to make a book, roughly A5, with 12 pages and choose a theme. The first page was to be a page of shared images, then the next four double page spreads were to be filled by each of us, the final spread being shared, then the last page was for summing up.

As we each completed our own part, the books were posted on to the next person. Two of us are in Australia, myself in Sydney and Karen Bailey in Melbourne, and two in America, Cathe in Minnesota and Gale in Oregon. It was never intended to be rushed, we all needed time to think and plan, then there were interruptions caused by travel and illness, but now all four books are done. I am overwhelmed by the success of this small idea – four artists who did not know each other have become good friends. Everyone committed to these books with great respect for one another and dedication to making them as good as they could be. I think we all had doubts about our own contributions to the others’ books, no-one wanted to let anyone else down, but maybe this frisson added to the quality of the final outcomes.

To see the others, go to Karen Bailey Studio, Amaryllis Log (Cathe Jacobi), and Sticks, Stones and Paperstew (Gale Everett). Also, there are progress blog posts on my blog here for Karen’s book, here for Cathe’s book, and here for Gale’s book.

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This is the inside cover (the full cover is shown at the top, it was several etching and drypoint prints overlaid, with images inspired by nature, the paper printed on both sides), with more of my prints on the inside cover. Page one is imagery from all of us. Even though we have used different media and our styles are different, this page has a beautiful balance to it, with Gale’s budding cactus, my Christmas Bells in bud and flower, Cathe’s peony buds and Karen’s pumpkin seeds. All show the beginning of the circle of life.

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The first spread is my drawing, showing the Christmas Bells plant after the flowers have gone and the seed pod starts pushing through the dried petals. The imagery is exaggerated, but still with the essence of the plant.

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Next is Cathe’s peony flowers – so delicate they could float off the page.

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Now for Gale – these gorgeous exotic cactus flowers.

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The last shared page. Such different subject matter, but they all speak to one another across the page, from Gale’s delicate, withering cactus blossom, across to Cathe’s peony flower, redolent of the end of summer, with its hidden surprise of a frog below, to Karen’s autumn bounty of pumpkin, and my dry, withered seed pod.

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And the final page, where we each added our thoughts and inspirations for this book.

I can’t express how delighted I am with this book, the generous, considered contribution from each of the other artists. There was a great sense of trust between us. This is an adventure that will take me forwards, and remain a valued memory.

The blot drawing finished – evolution

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This drawing has been on my board for a long time now, occasionally giving way to something else, but my attention has always come back to this. I was even resisting finishing it because it was so pleasing to work on. To read about its beginning and see photos of the early development go to my previous post here.

One change I have made is the orientation. I worked the entire drawing when the paper was horizontal, and it now has made a quarter turn in an anti-clockwise direction. To me, this makes more visual sense, with the weight at the top, and the imagery trickling down. For the found creatures and objects within the drawing, the turn has made little difference, as they were all created depending only on where the original faint marks led, so you may find creatures spinning gently through space, hanging from a thread, drifting towards the next form. Strangely, the turning has caused some of the shapes to become identifiable as something completely different. Maybe there is no right way up.

I had no plan to find identifiable creatures or objects of any kind, but it seems to be human nature to look for something recognisable within abstract form, and I am fine with that. I am planning to call it ‘Evolution’ as it has been that for me, and that also refers to the evolving creatures within.

Below are details. The drawing was made with several weights of graphite pencils, from HB to 8B, and highlights of colour in Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils, on a basis of blots made using Liquid Pencil. The drawing is approximately 83 x 55 cm, measured at the widest parts.

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