Tag Archives: artist book

Wordless Storybook Pages 1 and 2

Front Cover

In 2021 I completed a wordless artist book for my little granddaughter, who was about a year old at the time. I produced it by converting a discarded kid’s library book, using the same process I’ve used for similar books in the past.

Look here if you want to see more about how I make these books and to view one of my past books.

This particular volume does have a story, though. I had been working on it off and on for a long time and getting nowhere. Other projects kept coming along. One day I took it out to see about finishing it up and to consider what I might write to accompany the images. It struck me that it was fine just as it was, without words.

And I thought my granddaughter might like it when she is a little older, and she can make up stories to go with the pictures herself.

Like the content, the cover has no words. The book has no title. I guess it can be called whatever the reader wants.

Back cover

Here are the first two pages. Want to make up your own story?

Zine Time

Last night I attended an online workshop at the National Gallery of Art called Virtual Studio: Zine-making with Sarah Matthews, Printmaker & Book Artist.

I was interested in this topic because I’ve enjoyed the zine form for some years. I have done one myself that you may remember: Mom Takes the Train to Pittsburgh, Has a Great Time, and Then Goes Home, from 2013. At the time my son lived in that city and the zine tells the story of a visit I made to see him.

During this trip I visited the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, which has a special collection of zines to be read in the library. I spent a whole day there, read zines, and talked to librarians (a couple of them gave me a really nice tour of the library, which I thoroughly enjoyed). From this visit I was inspired to write my own zine about the train trip (which I also loved). And…guess what, my zine is now in the library’s collection. To read about how that came about, check out this post from 2013.

The author and her work.

I have also done a lot of artist books, generally using a discarded library book as the base and adding paint and collage for the images, and then writing poetry to fit the pictures. You may remember some of these, too:

In November

Carefree Light-hearted Travel Outing

Today and Tomorrow and Today Again

and one that is very precious to me, a joint project with a friend, Sharon Mann, who is no longer living here on earth, but always in my memory, Nothing But Sunshine.

These days, I express my book making motivations with my various artist sketchbooks. Some have poetry to accompany the pictures and others, well, they just have lots of pictures! I usually post these books bit by bit. The current version, Large Artist Sketchbook 2021 , is now in progress with a page spread posted each week.

Here’s a random selection from a past sketchbook as an example.

*********

So – back to the topic of this post, the zine workshop! I was eager to see what we’d be doing. Sarah Matthews, our instructor, a printmaker and book artist (and an excellent teacher, I can say, after attending this workshop) gave us a simple list of materials we would need:

  • two sheets of any paper 8.5 x 11 inches or larger
  • various household scrap paper like newspaper, magazines, pattern paper, construction paper or wrapping paper
  • markers
  • scissors
  • glue stick or liquid glue
  • pencil

I assembled these items on my work table, plus a few others.

After some introductory remarks and a chance to look at some examples of artist books in the National Gallery’s collections, we got right to work. Sarah had a well-defined process for us to follow in this workshop and guided us with clear instructions and demonstrations so that we could end up with a finished tiny zine.

And, before I forget, this session was popular! There were 90 attendees from all over the US and some other countries too – I noticed Sweden and Argentina as we entered our home locations in the Chat on Zoom.

I won’t go through the steps of the workshop in detail – but basically, we took the large piece of paper and first covered it with a pattern – swirly loops, circles, whatever. I took out my India ink and a dip pen and did some asemic writing. I’m very fond of the rhythm of writing meaningless words!

Then we chose words (actual words) and wrote them over the patterns. I decided upon writing random words that popped into mind and went in alphabetical order.

By now a theme for my book was emerging – BOOKS! WORDS! and best of all, READING! If you know me, you know that I read a lot, and it’s my favorite thing to do. So it’s not surprising that I would make a book about…books.

All right. Next we did some folding of this paper and by making one cut with the scissors, we created a tiny booklet.

The last step was to collage or further enhance the interior. I did some tiny drawings with my pen and India ink and put them into the book along with some other papers.

*********

Here’s what I came up with. The book is a little thing, maybe 3 1/2 inches tall or so. This is the front cover.

Here are the page spreads.

Here’s the back cover. I’m not sure why this guy is so cross, maybe someone interrupted him in the middle of a good novel?

Well, that’s the story! Thanks for coming along with me. I enjoyed making this little book and I’d like to do more of them. And of course, I will continue with the book projects I already have going. Books!

Notes:

Look here for a previous workshop I did with the National Gallery involving poetry and art.

And if you want to try a workshop with the National Gallery of Art, Virtual Studio programs occur every couple of weeks and are free, but you need to register. Why don’t you check it out?

The website of the workshop’s instructor, Sarah Matthews, has a lot to show you. Take a look.

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: For Our Safety

You may know that in addition to my artwork I also write poetry (posted on my blog Claudia McGill Writes Poetry, Did You Know That?). For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

This is the last entry in this book. You’ve seen it all. Thank you for following along through all the months of poems and images.

For Our Safety

Well, you who
have come to my door
and for what
aim? What end?
What do you say? Is it safe
to greet you to smile

to ask you
to come inside? No.
I must not
and yet I
loathe the hostile aloofness
I sham. Forgive me.

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 31
shadorma chain

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: Safe Menace

You may know that in addition to my artwork I also write poetry (posted on my blog Claudia McGill Writes Poetry, Did You Know That?). For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

Safe Menace

Pass through that section of the woods,
the claw is going to reach out for you,
they say
the old man and his
stiff-armed reach and his talons
sharpened on a rock
that

the old bird
straggle feathers blowing in the stiff wind
he could warn you where
but I think he’s friends with the old man.
That’s what they say. Don’t trust him.
The bright blue sky laughs.

You run along the line of branchless leafless lifeless trees
long-dead roots in dark damp soil
trunks riddled with insect holes
the wind rising and when the gray clouds move in
the scene is set. You run.

There are other routes home but
this is always the one you take
There is something you like about the gamble
the taunting of the old man and the bird
the escaping this one more time

the safe menace
of the known unknown
that everyone knows and runs from
the known unknown
you run with.

5/1/20
5/4/20
Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 30

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: Photo Day #122

You may know that in addition to my artwork I also write poetry (posted on my blog Claudia McGill Writes Poetry, Did You Know That?). For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

Photo Day #122

In the hectic city
a man takes a bubble bath
a pigeon watches on the windowsill.
A cat on the sidewalk
bewilders itself
with the many options the world offers
to a cat on the loose.
Someone drops a box of eggs in the grocery.
Limp sheets in frolic patterns droop from the clothesline.
That fellow who stands on the corner
performing scenes from Shakespeare
is doing Macbeth this morning. The traffic speeds by
heedless. Too bad. He is quite good in this role.

5/1/20
Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 29 

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: The Picture That Was Made

You may know that in addition to my artwork I also write poetry (posted on my blog Claudia McGill Writes Poetry, Did You Know That?). For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

The Picture That Was Made

washed-in blue-gray sky
hovers over tired
sallow yellow stained stucco
garage
peeling jumble of windows doors purposes

apartment
up a flight of rickety
stairs don’t look safe but must be
proof
a man stomps on out the apartment door
lights up soon as he sets foot on the landing
and
he does not fall through.
Cloud of smoke wrap him up.

dead tree peels itself
sheds bark on grass rough-cut some time back
sheds shadow on row of sunflowers
they shift twist sway in the wind
concentrate on
inch by inch inching into the sky
their huge ragged-edge dinner plate heads

seeds planted by who knows who
could be somebody with an idea
that things could be another way could be
wanting some color could be liked the look of
sunflowers framed by a kitchen window.

bees buzz.

5/1/20
5/4/20
Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 28

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: Half in This World Half Yet to Arrive

You may know that in addition to my artwork I also write poetry (posted on my blog Claudia McGill Writes Poetry, Did You Know That?). For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

Half in This World Half Yet to Arrive

In what fairy tale did you speak your first words?
What magic made you
a flower in a garden a wise frog friend
a seer
wearing a mended apron and a divided mind
who sees me as I am with one eye
and with the other
knows me as I might be?

What spell cast over your house knitted its roof
embroidered its windows
What hand colored in the empty spaces
with feathered strokes of hope?

5/1/20
Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 27

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: The Dreamworld Asks a Very Good Question

You may know that in addition to my artwork I also write poetry (posted on my blog Claudia McGill Writes Poetry, Did You Know That?). For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

The Dreamworld
Asks a Very Good Question

You who watch us as we approach and pass –
a Jester in green rainboots a Chicken
grinning with all his teeth – and then
there is you
and your sideways glance away –
Who are you with your two minds
and both so disapproving?

Oh foolish creature
with your sub-divided thoughts
who looks askance at our outfits
our strut our prance
our chests-out brass-band confidence
our big smiles. We know who we are.
Can you say the same?

5/1/20
Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 26

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: Shadorma 283

You may know that in addition to my artwork I also write poetry (posted on my blog Claudia McGill Writes Poetry, Did You Know That?). For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

Shadorma 283

Said goodbye
homesick in minutes
swallow it
and move on.
The train releases its brakes.
Your heart lurches. Go.

4/30/20
Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 25

Large Artist Sketchbook 2020: Shadorma 282

You may know that in addition to my artwork I also write poetry (posted on my blog Claudia McGill Writes Poetry, Did You Know That?). For the next several months I will be posting here a combined art/poetry project, Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

I fill up sketchbooks with all kinds of art. Some contain images only and some of them I use the images as inspiration for poetry. In these books the image is on one page of the spread and the poetry on the other. This book is set up in this manner.

I’ll show you the image and then add the poem that goes with it. See what you think.

Shadorma 282

Camouflaged
I hang back. I hide.
How did you
coax me out
and place this warm sun of hope
into my sad heart?

4/24/20
Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 image 24