gratitude hangover
working and not

little houses


Yes, I know, I should have taken more pictures along the way. In my defense, the times that I've been diligent about before/during/after pictures were the times that the project was a total flop - too much thinking, not enough doing.

I'm still working on my little 2x2 book but have made some progress which I thought I'd share, even though the progress would be more evident if I had taken other "during" pictures.

As a reminder, the inside pages of the book look like this:

2x2 0012x2 0022x2 003

When the book is folded all the way down it has a vaguely house shape, even though the way it unfolds means the house is on its side or upside down. In any event, now that I have the pages, I'm working on the cover and thought I'd play up the house shape.

2x2 007

This happens to me a lot. But do you ever look at someone else's work and think, that's not THAT hard, why, I could do that! I get myself into a lot of trouble that way. In the process, however, I learn that things are harder than they look, and I get an added appreciation for the work that I first saw. This, I believe, is a lesson that all of us could learn, over and over again. I think we are too separated from means of production and that once we try to make or grow or cook something, we find out all sorts of things we didn't know, and gain added appreciation for all the other people around the world who are making, growing, cooking. And is what I should keep in mind every time someone comes into the store and exclaims that they could make something. Just to be clear, there are ranges of meaning in such a statement. In many cases, a person could indeed make something that they see at the store, but when it is accompanied by a tone of voice that suggests we are overcharging (never mind that the price includes standing at the cash register 7 days a week) or that the work is somehow devalued just because it could be made, then my hackles are raised. On the other hand, when someone says they could make something (maybe accompanied by a purchase that enables me to continue to stand at the register 7 days a week) and then goes home and makes it, but makes it in such a way that their own artistry comes through, well, that is a very fundamental part of our mission at work. I think my favorite example was from the early days of our store and a woman came in and bought one of my blue sky snippets. She told me (and I remembered this) that she was at the shop with a friend and saw the collage, commented on it, and her friend said, "I could make that!" (and it is true, it is not a technically difficult piece to make, but I *have* spent several years collecting blue sky photos and keeping them organized by location so it is not that there is no effort involved). The woman told me, "well, I've been waiting for her to make it for me for a year now. I'm not going to wait any more." Sold. Either through sale of supplies or finished projects, since our shop needs to find some way to pay the rent, it is definitely useful when someone finds a way to reward us monetarily for the ideas that they glean from a visit. That said, we do want to encourage people to make things, and I definitely have more frustration from the "I'm not creative" comment than the "I can make that" comment.

ANYWAY, this is all just a roundabout way of saying that the shoe is on the other foot for this particular project. Because this little house shape has got me thinking about painting houses - and who hasn't seen a house in a painting? a box with a triangle on top? maybe some windows? how hard is that? I can make that!

ha ha ha.

First step: I cut out 8 pieces of corrugated cardboard. I'm making two of these books and each cover is a sandwich of two pieces of cardboard. There's a ribbon between the sandwich of the back cover and the sandwich of the front cover hides the back of the brad that the ribbon will tie around. The shape of the house is already set for me. Of course, I could add other embellishments, but the basic shape really is a rectangle with a triangle on top.

Second step: Gesso. Just to have a base coat of white on top of the cardboard, and because Michelle Ward told me to do it that way.

Third step: And this is where it all falls apart. My biggest problem really is that the pages of the book are a rainbow and so I'm spending a lot of time thinking about what kind of house would hold a rainbow. Has to be rainbow colors, right? stripes?  My first attempt had one set of colors on the front (red, aqua, blue, green) and another set of colors on the back (lavender, orange, coral), with white windows in the roof and body of the house. Didn't look good so I did what I always do which is add more. More colors, more patterns, stripes on the body of the house, with some polka dots inside the stripes, a line of dots along the roof line. Keep in mind that all of this is going on in a 2" x 2" space. UGH. At this point, my inclination is to keep adding more and more so I started thinking about collaging, and yet this tiny size really doesn't lend itself to that kind of approach.

Third step, redo: Even though the pages are rainbow, there was too much color going on. It just wasn't working. I gessoed over the body of the house, painted the roof a solid red. Decided to tie in the pages of the book (which are old atlas index pages) by using the same pages on the body of the house. I'm really having trouble with connecting the cover of the book to the interior pages - they are looking like two separate books.

I added a little gingham sticker at the edge of the roof. Don't ask me why, I just thought it was a nice touch. So that was Friday night. Red triangle, aqua washed text rectangle with a red door, green roofline.  Hmph. Kind of boring, and not really appropriate for a rainbow house.

Fourth step. Texture? Color? treading carefully, carefully... hoping not to go that one step past done which brings regret and more gesso. I *think* that I can bring a few more colors from the rainbow back into the house, but perhaps try for a little less contrast and crazy.

Punchinella - you know about this, right? It's the waste generated from sequins. It, along with bubble wrap, is on of my favorite texture-makers. I remain a polka dot person in so many ways (someone I used to ballroom dance with called me "Dotty" because every single dancing dress I had was polka dotted). I'm thinking about dots for the roof and stripes for the body of the house. For the stripes, I cut a sheet of transparency plastic - not as sturdy as template plastic but I just need it for this occasion so that will be fine. Using these as stencils and applying paint with a dry brush is a little more forgiving than trying to paint stripes and dots freehand.

2x2 004


So far, so good. I like the added complexity of the roof. Over the red base, I laid a piece of punchinella and had pink, coral, orange and yellow on my palette. The brush could have been drier and there should have been less paint on it, so the end result is a little gloppier than I'd like, but I think it will do just fine.

2x2 0052x2 006


I had to mull over the stripes for a while. Not sure how much color to introduce - at war with my natural inclination to add as much color as possible. Purple, blue, green, aqua, yellow and white tubes of paint are out on the table.

2x2

And now I kind of feel like I need to call it quits. I'm at war with my natural inclination to keep going and going and going. Should there be windows? Should there be flower boxes? bushes? I don't know.  I kind of like the simplicity of these houses the way they are. Is it possible that I am done?

2x2 009

I have an artist friend who says that books should have some surprise/reward for the people who actually open them. This has led to a lengthy debate about what this book should contain and how much of a surprise is needed. Is it enough that there are 38 pages each painted in a different color of the rainbow? Should there be some deeper text than the atlas index pages? a story or a journey?  I'm still debating. Each page kind of forms of a pocket so it would be possible to have removable tabs in each one, but then I'd have to write a story.  I did come across this Cherokee blessing which I think is just going to be a gift tag attached to the outside of the house:

May the warn winds of heaven blow softly upon your house.

May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.

May your moccaasins make happy tracks in many snows,

and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.

2x2 010


 

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Marilyn Wedberg

That part about " but makes it in such a way that their own artistry comes through..." --my own mission accomplished! I love what you did with this.

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