Oops! I did it again!

“You set out for church, and find yourself  at the dog races….”

–Naomi Shihab Nye

A favorite material to cover my handmade journals in is artist’s canvas. I usually start with a piece big enough to cover 8-12 books, paint it all different hues blending into one another, collage a tiny bit of patterned paper (tissue, gift wrap, book pages) here and there, stamp or stencil more pattern on top (hand-cut stencils, hand-carved stamps…) and finish with a very translucent glaze of more color over it all, just to homogenize the different elements. Only then do I cut the canvas into individual pieces, and come up with some focal point to paint onto the cover of each book.

I went through this process the other day, because I sold the very last of my handbound books at a Christmas fair recently (so it’s time to make  a completely new generation of journals) and I have also used up my stash of painted canvas.

Holy donuts in a gay pride parade, Batman! Here are some examples of what I came up with:

I’m not exactly UNHAPPY with the results; it’s an interesting effect, quite rich and the colors are fun…but these painted covers had me shaking my head for two reasons:

First, where and how will I add a focal point or “feature” to these already loud and busy designs?

Secondly, no one will believe me when I tell them that the plan for this next generation of journals was to go for a delicate, floral, feminine feel…I wanted to evoke bridal bouquets and fragile heirlooms, subtle perfume, lacy fabrics, love poems and Chopin nocturnes.

Instead I’ve gone and painted Goofy Uncle Harvey goes to Maui in the Aloha Shirt from Hell”!

*sigh* Oh well…back to the drawing (and painting)board.

7 thoughts on “Oops! I did it again!

  1. Hi there, I just found this page with StumbleUpon, I love these designs and I’m actually really inspired. I’m going to use your approach on a stretched canvas and see what I come up with. I guess this isn’t the look you were going for, but it certainly is a beautiful accident. And focal points are highly overrated. 🙂


  2. Loving these! I’ve been working on some handbound journals myself lately and reading this post has me inspired to push myself in different directions and think more out of the box, or at least away from what I’ve been comfortably doing in the past.


  3. STOP TICKLING ME – there.

    really miss womanish, this is like the most grand floral delicate laced with poison set of designs. I love it! did you ever consider that perhaps this is the furthest you can push yourself to go the soft way? foot-binding and obedience are not the first two things that come in my mind when I think of you Nat. although, both those things are quite romantic. I look sadly upon my size 9 feet as I think of it some more.

    anyhooo, excited to see how the next set of journals come out! maaannn.. will you make me one?? eeep… will it cost a leg and an arm? hehe


    1. Kat, Bruja, You don’t have to bind your feet to be a woo-man, eng-eng! Who said obedience? I said perfume and lace. Anyway, I am going to keep trying for the “soft, feminine look” because I have a Mother’s Day craft fair to attend! And being able to work towards a design brief is an important skill for artists and designers, no? My sister in big-footedness, I have given up on my size 9.5-10 feet, and now wear pillowcases for shoes.
      I will make journals, and you will tell me which one you want, and we will negotiate your birthday rights. Thanks for the visit!


  4. LOL, These are fantastic! I LOVE the bright colors and bold pattern. I honestly don’t think you need a focal point, the colors and design speak for themselves as being art.

    Do you sell or trade(mailart) this at all? (Sorry, this is the first time I’ve been to your blog!)


    1. It’s taking me forever to get an Etsy shop set up, but I am praying all systems will be go come the new year…I’ll put anything I make there. Yes, I do a lot of mail art, actually: PO Box 36043, Winnellie NT 0821 Australia…


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