Thursday, October 29, 2020

Books and Bookmarks (4)

Re books: 

Michelle Jaeger Shaw had been, 

all her life, 

a voracious reader, 

had delighted in everything 

from fluffy romances 

to serious treatises 

on the behavior of baboons. 

Television sets and radios 

could be blaring 

while Micky sat curled in a chair, 

her pale head bent over an open book, 

one hand playing idly 

with a strand of her fine hair.

—Marjorie Dorner, Seasons of Sun and Rain

Re bookmarks:

Not only are hand-painted bookmarks—artmarks!—appealingly tiny, with terrific beautility, and possessing an intrinsic freshness factor, but also they have a captivating contextuality. Between gigs, they go on sabbatical or into hibernation for varying amounts of time—sometimes months—before they are pressed into service again at which time their freshness factor is especially keen; each new book jacket offers new conditions that highlight different elements of a given artmark, bringing to life details that may have escaped notice previously. 

Have I told you how much I like hand-painted bookmarks?

She Loves to See Her Name
on the Library Borrower's Card
2 x 6.5" bookmark; acrylic, collage, and oil pastel on paper

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Books and Bookmarks (3)

Re books:

Joe picked up the book, 

weighed it in his hands. 

“I could tell you this story, 

in a hundred words or less, 

and you’d forget it by bedtime.” 

He leaned toward Rusty 

and lowered his voice, 

as if he had secrets to share. 

“Or you could read a couple hundred 

thousand words instead 

and never forget the story 

as long as you live.”

Lauren Wolk, Those Who Favor Fire 

Re bookmarks:

Hand-painted bookmarks dazzle me with their intrinsic freshness factor!

Someone like Malcolm Gladwell might know what the frequency/infrequency calculus is regarding what keeps a piece of art fresh and new and impactful when you see it repeatedly. I do not, but I do know experientially that hand-painted bookmarks stay fresh and impactful for me. When any given bookmark is doing its job, it catches my wonder each time I open a book-in-progress to read. Then it catches my eye again as I mark the place between later pages when I stop reading. It never becomes over-familiar. I love that freshness factor! 

No One Else, Anywhere, Anytime,
Has Ever Read This Book
2 x 6" bookmark; acrylic and oil pastel on paper

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Books and Bookmarks (2)

Re books:

You can tell 

she’s really good at reading 

no matter where she is 

or what’s happening around her. 

There’s this look on her face 

like she’s not there at all, 

she’s gone wherever 

the book takes her.

—Rodman Philbrick, Max the Mighty

Re bookmarks:

Here’s another thing I like about a hand-painted bookmark: its beautility! A bookmark is an exquisite marriage of beauty and utility. It has an immediate chance to broadcast its beauty—it doesn’t languish, waiting to be purchased; it doesn’t end up stuffed in a drawer or box, neglected or forgotten. I can do the equivalent of putting it on display instantly. Not only that, but also it has a practical job to do and gets busy doing it the moment the paint dries, snuggling cozily for short naps between the pages of whatever book I’m reading, all the while holding my place with an expectant eye half open and its whole self ready to radiate creative expressive energy all over again when I reopen my book. The best!

When I'm Reading, Wherever I Am,
I'm Always Somewhere Else
1.75 x 5.5" bookmark; acrylic and collage on paper

Monday, October 26, 2020

Books and Bookmarks (1)

Re books:

The library will only let Sidda and me 

check out two books at a time, 

which drives us nuts. We live in the country, 

I tell the librarian, 

we need more than two books to last us! 

My daughter and I are fast readers, 

we are avid. 

But the old bat behind the counter says, 

Two books a patron, 

that’s our limit, 

no matter where you live. 

Sometimes I watch my daughter smuggle 

an extra book out,

and even though I know I should, 

I just cannot bring myself to stop her. 

Sometimes you just have to reach out 

and grab what you want, 

even when they tell you not to.

—Rebecca Wells, Little Altars Everywhere

Re bookmarks:

How did I get started painting bookmarks? 

I don't recall. 

Maybe I took a painting I'd made that I didn't like and cut it into pieces? Or perhaps a narrow strip I'd trimmed from a larger painting caught my eye? 

No matter. What's not in question is that I began painting bookmarks.

One appeal of painting bookmarks is that they are what is referred to as tiny art. I love both elements of that descriptor equally: (1) the tiny amount of real estate in a bookmark and the resulting relatively tiny amount of time required to paint it make for satisfying short-order gratification, and (2) a 2 x 6-inch bookmark is no more and no less art than a 2 x 6-foot painting or a 2 x 6-yard mural; each is a self-contained world that knows no boundaries.

She Lived Inside that Book for Days
2 x 6"; acrylic, ink, and pastel on paper

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Books and Bookmarks: Prologue

Re Books:

The year I am in second grade, I leave Dick, Jane, and Sally behind in the pages of the primers of first grade and read my first full-length chapter book, The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West. I perch myself in an upholstered chair in our living room in Cranford, NJ, curl my legs up into the chair, remove the illustrated dust jacket so my hands are in direct contact with the nubby, faux-leather, red book cover, open to the first page of chapter one, and I am gonePete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, Sue, and I have a mystery to solve. 

Do not get in our way. 

For any reason.

Several decades and nearly 4000 books later, I have not stopped reading.

To my delight, I discover today that the happy Hollisters have their own website, where I see the copywriting that promises to turn your young reader into a lifelong reader—truth in advertising there, I tell ya!

Re bookmarks:

What did I use as a bookmark when I read The Happy Hollisters? Perhaps a bookmark provided by the Weekly Reader Book Club? Couldn't tell you. 

Over the years, though, I've become increasingly particular about the bookmarks I use. No longer for me the torn scrap of paper, the wrinkled grocery receipt, the postmarked business envelope. Now I paint my own bookmarks, and one of the exquisite pleasures of starting a new book—an exquisite pleasure in its own right—is turning to my collection to select the bookmark that announces itself to be just the right one, with just the right je ne sais quoi element to pair it with the book at hand. The bookmark is a vital part of the experience.

from my collection

Sunday, October 18, 2020

NY (7)

I paint while overlooking a 5-acre pond—"our" pond for a week—on 45 acres of secluded rural land in NY state, land which aside from the tiny rustic cabin we are calling home is otherwise undeveloped. 

The painting start below, a creative inquiry undertaken outdoors on a blustery summerlike afternoon at the cabin, will have been packed up, transported home, and unpacked by the time this post is published. My time away will have been embedded energetically in the paint.

Visual history of final NY-vacation painting start:

vacation painting from four years ago

vacation painting start 2020, heading somewhere new

Friday, October 16, 2020

NY (6)

Feeling little pangs of grief as I paint over these pieces from several years ago.

Feeling curiosity, too; what next with these courageous wayfinders?

Visual history of 6th NY-vacation painting start: