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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Logical Progression

It's fascinating to catch oneself building on previous learning. Some time ago, I got interested in altered books. An altered book, for those of you who haven't met that particular animal before (most people say, what, an altar book?), is a book, usually an old, unwanted, but well bound book, which has been altered by an artist. It might contain collage, more writing, painting...a whole range of techniques. Mine are usually very simple. I make paintings in them. Paintings are things that are usually hung on the wall, inviolate. No matter how textured, people don't touch them. A painting in a book, though, is meant to be touched, and a whole different relationship is created between the viewer and the image.

A couple of days ago, I decided to work on the collaborative project that I'm making with Arashi . It sprang out of a little book of paintings that he has been making, and featuring on his blog. We thought it would be fun to make collaborative works, where we respond to each other's paintings. Not being one to waste time, or do one thing when I can do two, I also began to varnish an altered book that I'd made some time before. I don't know about you, but when I'm working small, I always mix too much paint (and the reverse applies, big paintings never have enough...). What, I wondered, was I going to do with the excess? I don't throw out paint, I use it...but on what? So I made a collage, and that was fine...and still had more... And then I picked up a journal, an old, filled up journal, full of drawings and notes. Journals like this have always annoyed me, somehow. The text is interesting, the drawings will doubtless relate to some painting or other, but the whole, as an entity, I always feel is somewhat unsatisfying. But they lie around in the studio, and I leaf through them occasionally, and so I did that day. And a light came on in my head...

I used the last of the paint on a page of the journal...and was hooked, instantly. This was clearly the missing element of the journalling. People making artist's journals usually do this kind of colouring before the text is added, but I feel that that is somehow inappropriate for me. But working in reverse, after the fact, rather like the work in the altered book that I was varnishing, now that made sense to me. So, to show the progression, I'll upload a picture of each; a spread in the altered book, the collaborative book and the journal. See what you think.

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