Monthly Archives: January 2012

The artist’s book completed! The Tally Keeper’s Folly – Imaginary People I Know -Will be on exhibit!


Addendum: Since I published this post about this little book,” The Tally Keeper’s Folly,”  it has somehow attracted enough attention to be invited to participate in the April is National Poetry Month.  To celebrate the gift of written word and the beauty of handmade books, the Illahe Gallery in Ashland, Or. . The Illahe Studio and Gallery is staging an exhibit of artist’s books of every size and type!  “The Tally Keeper’s Folly” will be there with the best of them!  April 6-28.  It will be a wonderful exhibit if you love handmade books.  Posted Sunday February 12, 1012 at 12-midnight.  Can you tell I am a little bit excited!

Front of Book

The Tally Keeper’s Folly – Imaginary People I Know

Oil pastel, watercolor, gouache, collage on muslin 5 x 7 inches

This is a handmade muslin book created by Lynne Hoppe, which I won in a give-a-way.  I’ve been saving the book for a couple of years.  I started doing some drawings in it, and saw a loose storyline form.  I have been thinking lately about people who have a very strong need to “keep score” or count up all the “wrong” things people have done, but never think much of all the good things people do every day.  So this little book turned into a story about a woman who was driven to keep her scores of every slight, real or imagined, until it began to destroy her life.  She is visited in the end by two strange figures who tell her of the mistake she is making by counting sorrows instead of joys.  In my version she believes them and changes her ways!  I decided to use another time era ambience for this book, thinking of medieval times when people counted their debts on tally sticks where they would make a mark on the stick for each debt owed, and the size of the mark often had bearing on the size of the debt.

The words in the book were printed directly to the coffee dyed muslin with an inkjet printer.  I ironed 8.5 x 11 pieces of muslin onto freezer paper  then I cut each quotation apart with scissors and used a straight pin to pull threads from the edges – then I just glued them down with matte polymer medium (I used Liquitex).  I think sewing them in would have been really perfect, but I would have had to sew through the illustrations on the other side of the page, and it just wouldn’t have worked, so I glued them in.

Pages 1 and 2 – The Tally Keeper is looking at marks on a stick while her favored child observes.

Pages 3 and 4 –  Portraits of her other children.  A sad lost boy and his older sister, who has little to say.

Pages 5 and 6  The Lost Boy in a younger portrait – when he believed in magic.  The Tally Keeper with little time for him.

Pages 7 and 8 – A study of The Tally Keeper’s jumbled dreams.  The Old King who never kept a count of sorrows.

Pages 9 and 10 – Her favored son again, still watchful, older now.  She cut a paper minion – I just wanted to use the word minion!

Pages 11 and 12 – She continues to count her scores, and keep tally of all her woes.  Her husband begins to wonder if maybe his name is on a tally stick too?

Pages 13 and 14 – Two strange old women come to visit her one night to help her see the error of her ways, after  a few tears she agrees to change.

Back of the book


Artist’s Book in progress – “The Tally Keeper’s Folly” Imaginary People I Know


“The Tally Keeper’s Folly” Imaginary People I Know 7×10 inches double page – Oil Pastel, watercolor, collage on muslin

I’ve been working on this little book for quite some time, but only recently did it come together in a cohesive way.  The story is about a vindictive woman who keeps count of all her slights and insults, real or imagined.  She forgets or dismisses the good in others as she focuses on the bad, and in the end loses everything.  I wanted the art to have a kind of medieval fairy tale look – hence the silly hat on the husband!  I will share more pages as I complete them.  Some of the art I’ve already shared, for example, “The Lost Boy.”

“The Tally Keeper’s Boy”  Imaginary People I Know – Oil pastel, watercolor, collage, gouache, on muslin

More Imaginary People I Know


“Fiona Knew Things” from “Imaginary People I Know”

Oil Pastel, gouache, watercolor on muslin 5 x 7 inches

I can’t seem to move past doing these faces!  I am doing them now in a handmade muslin book that I won in a giveaway a couple of years ago.  I was so afraid I would mess it up that I avoided working in it until I did “He Was His Mother’s Favorite,” (below)  that got me started.

Now I’ve decided to fill the whole book with these imaginary faces and add some mixed media scraps, and titles,  after I’m finished.

I think it will be a nice little book of strange people!

“The Boy Who Talked to Elves,” Imaginary People I Know – oil pastel, gouache on muslin 5 x 7 inches

A younger version of “The Lost Boy,”  who is also in this muslin book.  There is something really satisfying about working on muslin this way.  Lynne Hoppe ( see my blogroll for her website)  made the book and decided her sewing wasn’t right so she gave it away.  Yay! – I won it and have saved it all this time.   The muslin is tea-dyed first ( I think) and then each side of the muslin is gessoed and then lightly sanded so the pages are somewhat stiff.  It’s almost like painting on loosely stretched canvas – but the muslin is a smoother surface, more sensitive to oil pastels.  Sometimes watercolor will seep through the page – but this just makes it more interesting!

This is what the outside, back and front look like.  I plan on painting both covers too.

This is what the inside pages look like before I paint on them.


 “She Made Wands from Other People’s Wishes” from “Imaginary People I Know”

Oil pastel, gouache on muslin 5 x 7 inches

Imaginary People I know – “The Lost Boy”


“The Lost Boy”

Oil pastel, gouache, graphite, on muslin.  5 x 6 inches

I was just thinking about a little boy I used to know – he was so full of imagination and creativity – but his parents were threatened by his unique way of seeing life.  When he was very young he believed the world was full of wonder and his place in it was natural and right.  As he grew,  the critical attitude of his mother and the disinterest of his father naturally had an effect on him.  Now he is a young teenager and struggling with unhappiness and self-doubt.  He has lost his belief that there is a rightful place in this world for him and his pinned on cape has long been forgotten.  He knows he will never figure out who he was meant to be – but now must become what his mother, and now his step-father, have in mind for him.  He looks so sad because he is.

2012 Journal – Page 2 – “Going Home”


 “Going Home” – Journal Page, gouache, oil pastel, graphite, collage

Its always seems so much easier to do journal pages, than doing full-sized paintings.  The mistakes I make on the journal page, are either covered up, or not – and become part of the composition.  I don’t worry about proportion, or exactly looking like the things they are supposed to be – its a concept, right?  But I can’t do this when I’m in a full painting mode, and then I lose the spontaneous thing that makes an interesting painting.  Its frustrating, and keeps me going back to the journal pages to avoid solitary paintings.

If you look closely you can see two small torn pictures of doves in the background –  I tore these from a magazine ages ago, and that’s what I modeled my doves from.

I don’t know how to draw birds, so I am practicing in my journal pages to learn how – I’ve recently bought several books of birds, I wasn’t looking for them, it seemed they just turned up wherever I went!  I bought an Audubon box of 50 bird prints in a thrift store for a few dollars, dated from the 1950’s.  They are quite beautiful – and then I gave them away for a Christmas gift.  I found a newer poster sized book later of the same prints that serves my purpose very well – strangely there were no doves in it – pigeons, but no doves.  That’s why I had to look through my torn magazine pages to find some doves.

2012 Journal – Page 1 – Horizon lines


The New Journal for 2012 – Page 1.  Gesso, oil pastel, collage, gouache.  I’ve been thinking about horizon lines –  Don’t think this really counts as a horizon line – but that’s what I was thinking anyway!  This journal is one I’ve had for a while, it’s an “Earthbound Cachet” journal with brown paper pages (that I love) and a plain brown paper binding.  It’s 8.5 x 11 when closed.  I like to use the pages open, and the line down the middle doesn’t bother me.  I plan on writing more in this journal than I have in the past for the art journals.  For the last couple of years I’ve been trying to write less and draw or paint more – but now I think I can balance it.  As in the past some of these journal sketches will become larger paintings.

This is how the page looked before I painted it.  I like to work a few pages ahead and gesso them.  This makes them strong enough to withstand most anything I do to them;  water media, attached objects, acrylic, etc.

Sometimes I add color to the gesso with a little squirt of gouache.  You could also use acrylic – but I don’t like the shiney look that acrylic has when it dries, especially on paper.  Sometimes I lightly sand the pages after I gesso them.  It gives it a really nice soft feeling that is good to draw on.

This is what it looks like from the outside.  I will decorate and paint the binding after I complete the inside pages.  I like to wait until I’m all finished creating the inside so the cover will coordinate with what has happened inside.   You can see the faint square where I took the gummed sticker off – should have done that when I first got it!  But after its decorated and painted the mark won’t show. The pages are all brown inside, and the binding is plain brown paper also.  I bought this one at Wal-mart a few years ago.  It was very inexpensive – I haven’t seen them recently – but they can be purchased online – just not as inexpensively!

This page has a little strip of antique silk glued onto it – I water colored the silk.  It went down very nicely with matte medium as the glue.  I don’t gesso all the pages because sometimes the brown paper is nice just as it is for drawing.  I usually have to remove quite a few pages to not overfill the binding.  I just use a razor blade to slice out the page – sometimes I leave an edge when I slice it out, and I do the same to the one behind it – then you can glue another page of something inbetween the two strips – a page of a different size or something like that.