Tag Archives: art

Finding a Balance

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Hello again. It’s been a long time. I have been blogging in fits and starts and, for almost a year, not at all. I think about it all the time. I’ve got dozens of blog posts written in my head. But none of them made it to the computer or your inbox.

One of my biggest challenges, and I suspect yours as well, is being able to say, “No.” I enjoy helping people and making people happy and I am quite good at over committing myself out of the best intentions. Unfortunately I often fall short and feel sad/frustrated/guilty for not living up to my own expectations or promises.

After more than a year of falling short in too many places, I’m in the process of re-balancing my time as an artist and teacher (and wife, daughter, sister…). One of my priorities is to get back to regular blog writing.  I’ll share more about that soon. And more about my work. And tools I can’t live without. And events of note. Looking forward to chatting with you soon.

~Ginger

 

“How To” Books That Deserve Shelf Space #1

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I’m in the middle of my studio clean out. It definitely got worse before it got better, but today I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or at least the floor in some places.

I’m being rather harsh in my clean out, I don’t want to do this again soon. Everything has to earn its space. Especially books. So far I’ve donated 4 bags of books to the library and I’ve got two more boxes of books to donate to the Bay Area Book Artists Sale on Sunday, October 16th.

In my studio I have one of those Ikea bookshelves with the squares to divide books. Above is a photo of one of two squares labelled, “Book Arts How To.” I thought I’d share with you the books that I think are worth keeping in my studio and why.

Most books about Book Arts include the standard bindings, Accordion, Coptic, Pamphlet, etc. In order for me to keep a book in this category, it has to have one or more of the following:

  1. Unique binding ideas
  2. The best photos and instructions for a particular binding
  3. A gallery of book examples with outstanding artists books

Today, the first 5. Note, these are in no particular order of preference. Rather the order they are on my shelf.

Book Art Studio by Stacie Dolin and Amy Lapidow.

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The primary reason this book gets to stay? The Limp Paper Binding. A variation on the traditional Limp Vellum Binding. I haven’t tried it yet so the book goes back on my shelf.

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re-bound: creating handmade books from recycled and repurposed materials by Jeannine Stein

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This book deserves shelf space for the gallery. Here two of my favorites by Elaine Nishizu and Judi Delgado.

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Next, Book Arts: Beautiful Bindings for Handmade Books by Mary Kaye Seckler

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I keep this book for The Raven’s Foot Binding. It is a fun and unusual binding and well described here.

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More Making Books By Hand by Peter and Donna Thomas

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While there are instructions about how to make books, this one gets to stay as a catalog of Peter and Donna Thomas’ artwork. Here one of my favorites, The Trout.

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Book + Art: Handcrafting Artists’ Books by Dorothy Simpson Krause

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This book is unique in that it has Thermal Bindings (bindings created with the use of heat)

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And Drumleaf Bindings, bindings created by applying glue to the spine. Neither of which I’ve done, but both of which look interesting and useful.

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Next week, the next five.

On a personal note, the wedding in Virginia Beach was wonderful, beautiful, sentimental. We’re still smiling from the joy we shared with Samantha and Jeff.

We also experienced Tropical Storm Hermine which turned out to be stormy enough to create some challenges for the bride and groom but also disappointing after watching all of the weather channel doom and gloom.  For fun, Greg and I went to the coast at took some Hermine selfies. Here is my favorite.

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~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

On Being a “Real” Artist

Ginger Burrell Pyramid Box with Lotus Book SFSM

Well, here it is Tuesday again. And look, a blog post! I had to laugh when I realized I’ve been so busy since last Tuesday that I haven’t read any more of the book about getting organized and making routines. I’ll have to tell you about that another time.

When I was studying art in college,  I remember a discussion where a student pointed out that a “real artist” would let everything else in life go in order to make art. Art would come before family, income, chores, even eating.

Piffle.

This real artist made art this week, finished writing class descriptions, designed two new book structures, got her niece settled into college and just now booked travel for a funeral. This real artist is still terribly behind on a long list of things, but making progress.

Real artists have real lives. And if we’re lucky, busy, messy lives full of lot of people we love and who love us. And those people need us, need our time, and get in our way. Don’t even get me started on our pets.

To begin with, the college send off. I only cried a little bit. We were so focused on getting to the dorm room first so she could have the single bed in a triple room (success!), and getting her mountain of clothes, shoes and other supplies organized under said bed, I didn’t even have time to cry. And by the time the seven of us, who went to “help” her, had driven her crazy, she was so ready for us to leave, none of us cried. Of course when Greg and I got home we weren’t sure what to do with ourselves. And my first morning thought every day is still about what she needs, where she is, and whether she’s okay.

As far creating art, inventing book structures and writing class descriptions, I was working on a version of my pyramid box with magnetic closures, see the photo above. This version, designed for San Diego Book Arts needed to have a book inside. I experimented with stacked books and was underwhelmed. I really wanted something that made you go “wow” when it was revealed. I played with a variety of ideas and finally ended up with this, a set of four small triangular books with magnetic covers. When attached to each other with the magnets they create this intriguing and complex shape that I’m calling a Lotus Book. I’m pretty tickled with it.

I also designed a star book with magnetic covers that sits inside this hexagon box. I’ll be teaching both books and boxes in San Diego next April in 2017.

Ginger Burrell Hexagonal Box with Star Book SFSM

Today, after I finish my blog post, I’m cleaning. My studio is in such disarray that I have to move things to find things and move things to make space to work. I’ve got a bunch of boxes mostly made that are overdue to Vamp and Tramp. That’s my next big project… After I clean enough to find my table.

As far as the book on organizing one’s life? I’ll take that in my bag when we fly to Tucson for a funeral. I’ll tell you more about the book, and Tucson, next week.

Wishing you a lovely week full of messy, loving people who need you and get in the way.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

When Creativity Feels Out of Reach

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On December 24th my dear father-in-law, Art, was hospitalized. It was not the first time and wouldn’t be the last. It feels significant, however, because that’s the last time I can remember being able to focus completely on being creative.

After  December 24th caregiving and support became priorities over creativity and making art. In that time I’ve made artists’ books,  I’ve had some lovely successes, and I’ve had to use every ounce of energy – when I had it – to focus on art at all.

I remember in a college seminar class when a student (much younger than me!) stated with conviction that a “real” artist would give up everything before not creating. By his definition, I am not a real artist. At the time I said would give up art in an instant to take care of my husband and our families and, for the past 6 months, that’s pretty much what I’ve done.

Four weeks ago my father-in-law decided to end treatment and come home. We were scared and sad and supportive. Our world shrank ever smaller, from the last six months of caregiving with moments of creativity and normal life in between – to 24 hours of vigilant care, love, support and putting one foot in front of the other.

Greg recently asked me if the experience with his dad has inspired me to make art. I think eventually it might. The two weeks between when he came home and when he completed his earthly journey was an education for all of us. Greg’s dad taught us how to die. Whereas I used to think of death as sad and painful and lonely, I now hope I will have the opportunity to visit with friends, listen to music, tell stories and experience the undivided love of family.

Maybe someday that will be the title of an artists’ book, How to Die. Maybe not. Right now, today, even walking the hundred and fifty feet to the studio feels too difficult. We’ve made the decisions, had the services, hosted far-flung relatives who came to pay their respects. My quiet and private husband even had the courage to give his dad’s eulogy. I have never been prouder than that moment I watched that brave and well-spoken man honor his father. I wish he would let me use the text from the eulogy for an artists’ book, but I know better than to ask.

So this morning I got up and decided to go to the studio. I put on clothes I could make messy, I poured some iced tea to take with me, and I stopped to water the garden. Then I paid bills. Then I did laundry. Then I played with the cat. Now here it is 6 p.m. and I haven’t made it to the studio yet. I finally decided that writing a long overdue blog post was at least a small move in the right direction. So this is it, this is my writing/art/creativity for today. Tomorrow morning I will get up and try again.

Have you made art about death, dying or the loss of a loved one? I’d appreciate it if you would share your stories in the comments section.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Paper Storage: An Alternative to Flat Files

One of the many challenges of being an artist is storing supplies and, for book artists, that means paper. Do we roll it up? Lay it flat? And where in our studio do we store paper without exposure to dust, bugs and other troublesome elements?

Ideally I think we’d all love to have a nice set, or three, of flat files. Big, flat, thin drawers to cradle all of that beautiful paper that we just can’t resist. If you’ve ever been to the annual paper sale at Flax in San Francisco, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It’s such a deal, why not buy more? Because you have to store it somewhere.

I agonized over whether I could afford flat files (I tried Craigslist and Freecycle in addition to art and office supply stores, I even tried school suppliers hoping that they might have a bit more of a bargain for classroom storage) and, even if I could afford them, would they fit in my studio, a 10 x 10 bedroom? The only option was to remove my work table and use the top of the flat files as workspace.  I didn’t really like this idea and thought long and hard about what I truly needed.

I realized that because of the size limitations of my computer printer it was unlikely that I would ever make artists’ books that would need full sheets of paper. This changed the size of the paper that I needed to store from 22 x 30 to half sheets of 22 x 15. I knew I wanted drawers, not containers with lids, so that I could stack them and not have to move anything to get to the paper. I do enough of that shuffling around already in my studio. I scoured the local stores and the internet for a product that would work.

Enter the Wide Underbed Drawers from the Container Store. These stackable drawers are 23 x 27 x 6.5 high and easily hold half sheets of pretty much any paper I’ve bought. It turns out that 6 of them fit neatly between my upper and lower linen closets. Aha. Instant flat paper storage for a pittance compared to the price of flat files. $150 for six drawers (38 ” of stacked height) instead of the $500-$1500 I would have paid for flat files. Even better, by ordering online and picking up at my local Container store, shipping is free and they brought the items to my car. Now that is customer service.

I’ve had my stacking drawers for more than a year now. I’m very happy with the size, the ease of stacking and the amount of paper I can fit in the drawers. They are easy to open and close and do not jam. Because of their height, I am able to store boxes in the drawers to divide the paper. For example, if I’ve cut Rives to 8.5 x 11 grain short and Rives to 8.5 x 11 grain long I want to be able to store them separately but I don’t want to use up a whole drawer for just one stack. I use the Stockholm Office Boxes, also from the Container Store, to hold smaller sheets inside the larger drawers. (Just to be clear, I have no affiliation with The Container Store, I just love these products enough to recommend them.)

I have no idea yet where this flat paper storage will go in my new studio, but because of their stackability there is a lot of flexibility, certainly more than if I’d purchased flat files.

A friend of mine, Kitta, stores hers in rolls in a wine rack turned on it’s back, another friend under her bed. How do you store large pieces of paper for your art?

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

Happy Thanksgiving – My Gift to You – A Thanksgiving Book

Every year I think about giving a Thanksgiving message to the people in my life for whom I am grateful and every year I get too close to Thanksgiving and run out of time. So this year, I’ve made this foldable book, using one of my all time favorite fall foliage photographs, to give away. It’s a simple structure and, as my gift to you, you’re welcome to print and make as many of them as you’d like. Use it to say thank you to someone who is important to you. Or many someones. I’ve left the last page blank for you to write in a personal message.

Here is the PDF file, click on the link, not the photo. Be patient, it is a very large file: Thanksgiving Book by Ginger Burrell

For instructions on how to fold it, try Marc Snyder’s How to Make an Eight Page Book Out of a Single Sheet of Paper. (Except there are no edges to trim before beginning.)

For more free books, check out Free For All.

I’m thankful for my many friends in the art community. To all of you, thank you – And a very Happy Thanksgiving.

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

While We’re Talking Paint: Which Colors Facilitate Creativity?

All that focus on paint chips last week got me thinking about what color the walls should be in a studio. Is there a strategy to choosing studio wall colors to make us more creative? My first thought is white like galleries and museums. Blank spaces on which to apply art. No distractions from the art making itself. But then I started to wonder, is there a science to this?

I Googled, “What colors encourage creativity?” And, after wandering through a lot of websites and reading several articles, here is the general consensus:

Red increases blood pressure, energy and stamina but can make a person irritable. Hmm. Not a good studio wall color choice. Pink helps muscles relax and induces a feeling of calm, protection and warmth. Nice, but I think I’d either get too mellow or take a nap. Next?

Orange can be beneficial to the digestive and immune systems and help relieve feelings  of self-pity, lack of self-worth and unwillingness to forgive. It is considered a terrific antidepressant. All promising properties. But I’m not sure I could take walls full of it. How about some orange accents like those photos of California Poppies.

Yellow stimulates alertness in the brain, makes one more energetic and induces a happy emotional state. It can also stimulates intellectual thinking and creativity. Again, good qualities. Maybe that’s why being outside feels so wonderful. Perhaps a light yellow wall color?

Green is good for the heart, physical equilibrium and balance. When exposed to the color a person’s breathing deepens and slows. Green induces feelings of comfort, laziness and relaxation. So that’s why I always feel so relaxed after hiking or camping. Lots of greenery visible from the windows. Check – but not enough to induce laziness!

Blue lowers blood pressure and has a cooling, soothing and calming effect, inspires mental control, clarity and creativity. Several studies indicated an increase in creativity when exposed to blue. I love blue. Perhaps blue walls.

Purple is known for  suppressing hunger; Indigo is associated with stimulating the right side of the brain – intuition and imagination. Maybe some purple walls in the house, might help my never-ending quest for a smaller jean size. For the studio, highlight color. Photos of big, beautiful Dutch Irises – indigo with yellow trim. Perfect.

White brings feelings of peace, comfort and freedom. A sense of uncluttered openness. Too much white can stimulate feelings of separation, cold and isolation. Since I tend to have too much clutter in my studio anyway, maybe a warm white color? I like the idea of peace, freedom and openness.

What color walls do you have in your studio or work area? Would you change them if you could? What would your ideal color be for studio walls?

In case you want to read some of these articles yourself, here are the ones I found most interesting and helpful:

Color Psychology

Color: A powerful mood-altering tool

Paint Color Moods

Effect of Colors: Blue Boosts Creativity, While Red Enhances Attention to Detail

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com