Altered book created for SparepARTS fundraiser


Books are one of the great loves of my life. There was a time when I would have thought that “altering” a book would be the same as desecrating it.  No longer. Creating a new work of art with an abandoned book as its skeleton seems to me to be a loving and creative way to give new life to a book destined for the shredder. I made my first altered book for SparepARTS, a silent auction hosted by the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group to raise money for public art installations in West Dallas. (Picture above is a double-spread in progress).  FWADG  was my West Dallas community partner for the Parade of Giants earlier this year in March. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to create the fabulous giant puppet of Bonnie Parker, so I was happy to contribute to their cause. Bonus: I got to make this pretty awesome artwork. Making an altered book is great fun. Do it!

Above photo is one of the completed double-spreads from my altered book, “Flesh and a few Fish”. You can see more of the works-in-progress here. Click here to see images of the finished book.

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From Above, Alone

I was finishing up From Above, Alone for a personal art project when Illustration Friday’s topic for the week, Lonely, showed up in my email. I don’t submit often to IF because I’m usually too busy working on something else, but this seemed like a serendipitous perfect fit. Watercolor, ink and graphite on hot press paper.

From Above, Alone is a companion piece, albeit a sad one, to From Above, a painting I created in 2009.

If you’re a Facebook user, you can follow me there: The Gretchen Show on FB. 

Latte Lounge

Yes, Melissa, there IS a Latte Lounge!  This commissioned piece has a great story behind it. As I love my art to be narrative, it was a joy to create.

My client and his wife met online several years ago. After a few emails and phone conversations, they agreed to meet for coffee at a central location, as they lived in cities about 30 miles apart. D. looked up coffee houses in the mid-city, picked the Latte Lounge and sent the info to M. The appointed time came and passed. M. was desperately driving up and down and around the given address but no Latte Lounge, as was D. After multiple, harried cell phone calls, they finally met (for the first time!) at a corner gas station and went on the hunt together. Alas, the mysterious Latte Lounge was never found but Cupid’s shot was straight. The story has become part of D & M’s family lore and I was honored to put it on paper.

I like incorporating arcane details in my illustrations and paintings; there are several in the Latte Lounge, including Spike, the lizard with the mutated tail. Watercolor, gouache, colored pencil and ink on hot press Arches paper. 16″ x 12″.

 

Satisfied Cat

Another mixed media piece painted on wood panel; a commission done for an Oak Cliff neighbor who only hangs original art in her home. (God bless her!) I really enjoy building the multiple layers, creating an effect that is quite different from my more “traditional” watercolor paintings but  still has some of the transparency that I so love. I use paint instead of ink for the line work on these pieces. I like the way the cat’s stripes echo the lines of the fish skeleton; very pleasing to me.

When my mom saw the sketch, she pursed her lips and said, “I don’t like that”. I don’t think the fish skeleton was as pleasing to her! I was tempted to title it “Catisfaction” but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Cute word mangling generally offends me (I refuse to eat at restaurants with names that make me grimace, like “Spageddies”) so I had to let it go. But I whisper it in my mind when I look at this piece: “catisfaction!”

Prints are available over at my Etsy shop – link on the right side of the page – or contact me directly.

The well-read cat

Another mixed media work. I suffered some minor consternation about desecrating a book to use for the background, but I got over it. ; -) It was an old paperback that had been sitting on a dusty shelf in a thrift store for what I imagined was a very long time and destined never to be read again. So I used the pages and the words in a work of art and that seems like a fine and fitting finale. And the cat is so enjoying the book.

Who’s in the catbird seat?

I’ve been revisiting mixed media and loving it. For some reason cats and birds keep popping up. This is a wood substrate that I “painted on” colored tissue paper with an acrylic medium with a little paint mixed in. I painted on top of that with acrylic and a touch of watercolor, thinned down to get a transparent quality, which is one of the things I like so much about watercolor. Line is ever-present in my work, as it is here – I particularly like the negative space line created around the nose and eyes by the underlying tissue paper surface.