Sigh... Just got back from two days at Valley Ridge Arts Studio. It's such a treat! Kathy and Bill are such excellent hosts and have created such a welcoming environment in which to create art. I went with Mom and we camped overnight - looking at the many stars in the dark country night, listening to the coyotes in the middle of the night and the cows and songbirds really early in the morning. Katie Kendrick is a great teacher. She was very helpful and shared so much of her knowledge with us. The other thing that is so great about Valley Ridge is to take a class in the company of fun and inspiring classmates. It's neat to see how everyone starts with the same teaching but runs with it in different directions - color selection, style, images, etc. Everyone shares some little talent that is uniquely theirs and that adds so much to each workshop. We met each day at 9:30, took a break for a delicious array of salads and sandwich-makings for lunch, and then met again for class in the afternoon with a mix of instruction and time for working. Since we didn't have to drive back to Madison overnight, I could go back to the studio/classroom after dinner and worked until 11 pm, painting pages madly... It was such a treat to get away and think only about paint on paper/cardboard. I think everyone should treat themselves to a Valley Ridge workshop!
These are picture of one of my books. Well, let me back up a bit. The idea for my books started on our trip to California in January, when my brother-in-law, seemingly on the spur of the moment, suggested we drive up the hill to see the observatory. We spent the afternoon wandering around and I started getting inspired by all the interesting architecture and the visual effect of the various exhibits. So, I took a lot of pictures and started planning for a book project. While in California, I also got interesting pictures at the Long Beach Aquarium. Thank you, digital camera. So, when I came home and was looking through my pictures, I came up with the idea for a book called "aquarium planetarium." Having no spare time, the days turned into weeks, when suddenly I realized that I could work on that theme for the Valley Ridge workshop. It always helps me to have some vague idea before packing up all of my collage supplies. This way I could focus on colors and images of seas and skies. But then the pile kept growing bigger and bigger and I thought, why not make two books? one "aquarium planetarium" and one "planetarium aquarium" I know, I know, splitting hairs, but it made me smile.
Of course, even with some vague focus, I still had way more supplies than I had time to work with in the two days at Valley Ridge. Typical. Up to a certain point, I worked on all the pages at once - 9 per book, cutting and tearing cardboard, applying gesso and paint. Painting with watercolors and acrylics, using lace and other things to add texture, sewing on pages. I didn't even really get to the collage part of things. Oh, and trying to figure out exactly how one book would be different from the other. And then I started running out of time and had to just focus on one of the books to be able to follow along with various steps. So, here are pictures of the first book. This one is "planetarium aquarium" - looking at the skies reflected in the seas. The colors are ocean colors but most of the collage imagery (to be added later, along with explanatory text, poetry...) will be imagery of the constellations, including photographs from the observatory. In this book, I ripped out round and crescent shapes to suggest the moon.
The other book is not at all ready to be photographed. It is deep purples and navy, colors of the sky, but the torn-out cardboard shapes are supposed to suggest fish and starfish and waves. I'll stitch various pictures from the aquarium part of the trip. Someday...