Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Altered Book: The Book of Fire

Fire is the element of transformation, of change, of resurrection. One walks through Fire to come out something or someone different on the other side. So I transformed a book into...another book?

Yeah...I wish I could say that the above was my inspiration but it was nothing quite so poetic. In fact, I have a whole lotta books waiting around for me to alter, embellish, and otherwise transform. This was on top of the stack.

The book was originally, Wonders of Nature by National Geographic. I ripped out the photos I liked and decided to just keep ripping to prep the book for...something. It was a photo of an erupting volcano that fascinated me and made up my mind to do the whole book about the element of fire. The whole idea was a daunting one for me. See, I hardly use red in my artwork and yellow is a challenging color for me. Yellow is my nemesis color; I always get stuck and horribly brain-washed when I use it in large scale projects and backgrounds. Red and yellow are the primary colors of fire and THAT was a crippling hesitation.

So I began by rifling through all my file folders and pulling out any imagery that dealt with Fire or Heat. Any pictures I could use as focal points, any full page photos that would cover up the book yet lend to embellishment. Anything to keep me from a book full of red and yellow. The page above was original to the book and I painted over it. The figure walking down the road was originally surrounded by water. I used acrylic paint to make flames and smoke. It was my first spread in the book and a real confidence boost. It turns out to be my favorite.

 This is not the volcano that originally inspired me but this is the volcano page. The text (mountains born of fire) was saved from the original book. The simple yellow splatters on the black background seemed just the right touch and not too distracting from the brilliant photo. I had alphabet stickers to use up and I had red and yellow letters! (Imagine that!)

Another page in the original book which I almost tore out was about the Giant Sequoia. I left it in intending to paint over it but when I read the text/caption on it's opposite page, I decided to change around my plan. My plan was to put the single Smokey Bear image onto my page about Wildfires. But the Giant Sequoia gets so big and lives so long because it has fire-resistant bark. (isn't it amazing what you learn?) So I decided to dedicate the page to Smokey and preserve the educational text. (and because it linked the tree to the element of fire) I made the background with a stencil to give it a bark like appearance then added my hand-doodled beetles for a bit of vertical interest. (I LOVE my blue beetles and they will make many more appearances in my work, I have little doubt!)

This spread is a throwback to my scrapbooking days. I used to scrap a lot of photos about geocaching and letterboxing which gave me quite a collection of camping, hiking, and outdoorsy stickers. I was determined to use up some of them on these pages dedicated to the Campfire. When I set up the book, I left some pages with "inserts" or half-pages. I had no real plan for them and they fell wherever. I was stumped with what to do with this half-page. I had an idea to used half-burned matches to make a design element but it was a lot of space to cover and the sticker collage already made for a pretty busy background. So I took the idea from the Smokey Bear page and made the insert "log like". This quote is a new addition to my collection, "To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world."

The campfire stamp (in the circle) always makes me smell smoke and crave roasted marshmallows! My only regret with this page (and I really thought there'd be more than one because most times I go way overboard on throwing stickers around) is that I had thought more about the background paint. I wish I had pulled the yellow up over the red to simulate rising flames rather than the red looking like it's falling into the yellow. (those are golden fluid acrylic paints whose colors I don't remember)

Hope you enjoyed a little tour of my recent work. It frees up some space on my "To Do" board and the completion of altered books always makes me happy. Finally, something finished! This wasn't the entire book just a few pages to share and maybe inspire.
Have a great week!
"The phoenix must burn to emerge."

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