Saturday, March 31, 2007

TJBookarts Windfall and other bookarts stuff

One of the things I love about getting home from a trip is going through the mail. Don't ask me why - usually most of it is bills, but this time I was lucky to have three parcels waiting for me!
Inside one was the booty above: a lovely windfall which I won simply by leaving a comment on Jackie Poutasse's website: TJBookarts. Her site has free tutorials and lots of sites of interest for anyone interested in book arts and paper-making. I first "met" Jackie on the yahoo book arts group and have found her extremely generous with her knowledge, and now also with these goodies. Over at TJBookarts, Jackie is celebrating the first birthday of the web site and offering a weekly prize draw. Its not too late to surf on over, check it out and put yourself in the draw. Jackie has also started up the Book Art Forum in the past few weeks and this looks likely to develop into a wonderful resource and space to chat.

The second parcel I opened contained the great book cover start above as well as this start for the "Library" from Jade Pegler. I am a huge admirer of Jade's artwork and feel honoured to be collaborating with her. If you are not familiar with "the Library", but you are interested in doing some collaborative art work which will be exhibited in New York! (YES! I said NEW YORK!) have a look at the Library group on Flickr and see if it is your kind of thing.

My final package was a gift to myself - the Penland Book of Handmade Books. I have been wanting this book for about 4 or 5 months, so when I saw one at a reasonable price on Amazon, I decided to treat myself. This book is full of a great range of inspirational book designs in the gallery sections as well as about ten detailed "how to" sections by established book artists. I love it!

Monday, March 19, 2007


Originally uploaded by potsrme1962.

This is the last post I will be doing before I head to Melbourne for supervision tomorrow. This work has been troubling me because much as I love it, I did not think it was going to work as part of my masters work.

I had made these fragile,flimsy and translucent boxes with holes. A box is a container - to hold things, to preserve them and keep them safe. I wanted to use the boxes to express how we as humans try to hold onto things, to keep them the same, and to stop things changing. To express "anti-process" and the fruitlessness of trying to keep things the same. In a way, the boxes did this but there were too many other interpretations that could be made, and were probably more evident.

I was thinking about putting different things in the boxes, but what?Then I thought of adding locks. This clarifies the idea of holding something, containing it. But the boxes have holes! And are empty! So something has happened - whatever it was has gone! To me, the work is now about what has happened, a change in state. This seems to work.

I'm not sure if this is conceptually within the bounds of my thesis - I'll be discussing that with my supervisor, but I am a lot happier with these pieces anyway, and I plan to make more.

I'm not sure whether I will be able to post while I am in Melbourne - I may only have dial-up access which makes loading photos difficult. I will be checking out a number of exhibitions while I am down there though, and will be sure to report back as soon as I can. Thanks to everyone who has provided comments and support during the past weeks while I prepared for this trip. Your help has been greatly appreciated!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Flag Book - maquette

maquette of flag book by Amanda Watson-Will
This is a rough maquette of a flag book I plan to make as part of my masters. The white concertina spine will be blue sky in the finished book, and there will be imagery on the front and back outside covers as well. The next stage is to write the text, which will be on the back of the flags.

The concept for this book is based on the idea from Buddhist meditation that thoughts, feelings, sensations are constantly changing, drifting across the mind like clouds in a sky. To cling on to our states of mind is as futile as expecting the weather to be constant.

From what I have read, it is typical to make a mock-up or maquette of an artists book to help ensure that things like size and materials are consistent with the artists meaning. After constructing the middle section I realized that it would add to the meaning if the flags were attached to "sky". I also discovered my flags are too far apart for my liking.

I would really love to make this book in a large size (A3 or A2) to fit with the idea of an expanse of sky. That would mean having it professionally printed and to achieve the quality I want, I might have to apply for a grant to fund printing. I spoke to a printer yesterday about offset printing and they said they did not know anyone who would do such a small run - so that means I would have to send it interstate. Hhmm!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Inkjet and mixed media tests: Part 2

I have been reading the wonderful "Digital Art Studio" by Schminke et al. As the subtitle indicates, it explores techniques for combining inkjet printing with traditional art materials. I am searching for ways to incorporate my photos into my artwork and this book is a terrific source of technical know-how in this area. With the improvement in the archival qualities of inkjet print now available, there is no reason not to incorporate them into fine art projects.
A product they use in many of their works is InkAid. This is a brush-on medium which allows you to print on any surface which will pass through your printer without the loss of colour intensity or durability that is seen e.g. when inkjet prints are made on fine art papers. Sometimes the softer effect you can get by printing on say watercolour paper may be desirable, but at other times it is not. InkAid is the answer to this. BTW I have no affiliation with InkAid(!) I just think its a handy product.
It also allows you to print over collage or mixed media surfaces. This is the process that I have experimented with. I first printed a very low opacity version of my image onto watercolour paper to use as a positional guide. Then I added gesso and artists pencils to achieve a handworked texture. I then applied two thin coats of semi-gloss clear InkAid (my 1 litre bottle is going to go a long way!). When dry I ran the watercolour paper through my printer again, applying the image at 100% opacity this time. Here's the result - hopefully you can pick up some of the textural effects.

Next I thought I'd try a transfer as my initial layer rather than a low opacity print. I thought this would add more character and texture. Using Petitts method, I made my transfer of the sea over a print of the times. I love the rough effect at the edges but a lot of detail has been lost, as you can see (apart from the poor photo - sorry!)

Next I added gesso and artists pencils (below)

Finally I applied the InkAid and running through the printer to add the final layer. Unfortunately I wasn't happy with the result at all! As you can hopefully see from this detail shot (below), I lost the lovely rough edges (of course!) and the effect of the InkAid over the acrylic gel medium that I used for the transfer is quite plastic-y. It really doesn't work with the textural effects I was trying to achieve with the gesso. So... that isn't a process I will be bothering with again. Nevermind, you have to try these things to know.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Inkjet and mixed media tests: Part 1

Kingscliff transfer on perspex by Amanda Watson-Will For the past two weeks I have been working with the photos from my earlier post, Cycles. plus one other of the sea. These two images will be presented together as the first opening in the artists book, Cycles. I don't want to present them simply as inkjet reproductions of the photos because other images in the book will definitely include collages and mixed media.

Initially I experimented with a variety of different transfers onto different media including perspex (see left), Japanese kozo, mulberry and watercolour paper using Sheer Heaven transfers, Talbot and Pettit's methods of inkjet transfer and beeswax collage. I am not going to upload photos of everything here as some were dismal failures, but here are a couple.
Kingscliff transfer on kozo by Amanda Watson-Will

On the left is a Pettit method transfer using sandwich paper onto natural Kozo paper. As you can see none of the yellow pigment has transfered, but I do like the textural effects. The lack of yellow lead me to try using this yellow mulberry paper with inclusions (below). I like the translucency of this but its just too yellow.Kingscliff transfer on mulberry by Amanda Watson-Will

Initially I had the idea of making this book on perspex to accentuate the translucency of transfers. To do the transfer I used Jonathon Talbot's method and it worked well, except I just don't really like the look. This was the first transfer I tried with this photo and as I get used to the look it doesn't seem so bad, but I have decided to make the aesthetic of this book a lot more natural, in keeping with the theme of cycles in nature.
Coming up: my first experiments with Inkaid.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Focussing My Blog

Too much time has passed since my last entry. I could blame my health or blame the weather here in Brisbane (it's been 30 deg+ and 60-70% humidity this past week) but I think I really need to acknowledge that the real reason is that I haven't recognised the value of blogging and made it a higher priority.

Regular readers will know that I am off to Melbourne for supervision for my masters in just two weeks from I have been trying to make a start on as many works as possible so I have plenty to share and discuss. I figure I will be able to get more feedback if I have a number of works underway rather than a couple completed or nearly completed.

This is quite demanding but also very exciting. At the beginning of a new work you have to really start focussing your ideas, select media and process, not to mention run around for any supplies you don't have on hand. There is a lot of testing to do, as well as a number of decisions to be made. And I am loving it!

Along with just doing the work, I do feel that I can gain a lot by documenting this process as thoroughly as possible. This will help me with my thesis writing but my research background also suggests that it will be useful to my practice - it is so frustrating to look at an example of something that you love and want to re-create and not knowing how you did it, or alternatively making something which fails, only to realise you've done that before and should have remembered! Such a waste of time and energy - things that not only I frequently run short on...

Then today I received my weekly update from Alyson B. Stanfield, an art business coach who writes the Art Biz Blog. If you are interested in taking a more professional approach to the business side of your art, you should check her out. I'm not a paid up subscriber, but her site, blog and newsletter offer lots of useful free advice and tips.

I am not really a big fan of the idea of life coaching or business marketing, (just another of my hang-ups - I value humility in this age of "put yourself out there"). Consequently, I am actually at a bit of a loss when it comes to knowing what to do in this area. Somehow I stumbled onto the Art Biz Blog around New Year and Alyson got me in by suggesting that readers write a summary of their achievements for 2006. That sort of task is always fun and encouraging, so I did it and followed up by signing up for the newsletter - much of which I find useful and relevant to me.

Anyway back to today's update -it is about focussing your blog! Alyson introduced the artist, Margaret Short who started documenting her current project in her blog, Fine Arts Blog. I'm not a painter but I adore painting and I find this blog fascinating. Another of my absolute favourite blogs is Woodblock Dreams by Annie Bissett. She documents her explorations in moku hanga, traditional Japanese woodblock printing.

This has made me realise what sort of blogs I like - the ones that teach me stuff, especially if it is something I dream of trying some day. So this is what I would like to do with my blog - focus on documenting my masters work and share some of the techniques I use. And to do this I really do need to post more regularly - perhaps 2 to 3 times per week, especially at this time, when I am testing so much.

So you can look forward to more output from this little blog, and as a teaser, I'll finish with one image. This is the middle section of a sculpture I'm working on. It's only one piece of a larger multi-piece installation with the working title "Cocoon". It's made from japanese paper, beeswax, acrylic gel and shellac. More to follow...

close-up w-i-p Cocoon by Amanda Watson-Will