Final project: Final thoughts


Installed at last!

This is it! Here’s my display for the exhibition installed at last! Less is more…

I had planned to display the other two pieces: the book carved into a box filled with Max and Misty’s Did you know? cards and objects memorabilia as well as the wordless tunnel book. All three books have the same narrative in a different format.This is this aspect that fascinated me and I sought to explore.

However, after having a conversation with my tutors, we decided that it may be distracting from the main book itself and its innovative format. (You have to flip the book over to read both sides of the story and the resolution is in the middle). Since the book’s ending has  a 3D element inside it in the form of a pop up, I didn’t mind too much. Instead, they recommended I showcased the pop up but I chose not to. It is after all the resolution of the book and readers don’t start a book by its ending. So I will let the visitor pick the bookt up (with white cotton gloves please) and discover the surprise inside it.

Creating the book has been a roller coaster. I had to wear so many hats: author, illustrator, graphic designer, bookbinder, printer and all that with some non existent skills.

I had to learn: handling watercolour since I usually paint with oils and acrylics – manipulating my artwork in Photoshop: very different from playing with special effects.  I especially had to master how to hide blemishes and enhance colour so that it looks good and real and still hand painted. I am very pleased to have retained this element. It was crucial for me.

I had to discover InDesign for the layout of my book from scratch.  I have definitely only scratched the surface here.

I had to think about typeface and created my own. And even though it looks amateurish I am  particularly pleased with the tile  because it is mine and it enhances the meaning of the book.

I had to learn how to bind a book and needless to say I am very unskilled with a needle. Preparation (flattening your signatures before hand) and preparation are key.  In the end, I had to give up the idea of the hard cover. Having hard a conversation with a book maker expert, the artist in residence, Richard Nash, I agreed that the cover would look thicker than the book itself. It would have looked ridiculous. He suggested a coptc stitching but I failed to deliver. In the end I applied a basic stitching giving it my own twist to make it look pleasing to the eye.  I also decided on a book jacket having had to include the cover in one of my signatures to have a multiple of 4.  You live and learn, don’t you.

The most interesting aspect was the interplay between text and image. Not so much what you say but what you leave out – not so much what you show but what you leave out. It is wonderful to write and draw, you have the ability to choose the best medium for a scene. At every time, I kept my audience in mind. And although I wanted the story to be accessible I didn’t want to do all the work for them. If not what is the point of reading?

I very much enjoyed all the research about visual storytelling, child development, child psychology, and reading about semiotics. I also tried to cover the cultural aspects by researching the distribution of picture books. Children in the world are not all equal and in underdeveloped countries books are not an accessible commodity. Similarly we  get to see work by a few talented artists only. Distribution of picture books is very pricey.

I also touched on the development of publishing and expressed my concern about the trend of epublishing  It has a place but it is too soon to assess the impact it has on children’s literature and its audience. I personally feel that at young age, holding a tangible object and sharing a moment with a special person enhances a child’s experience. Opening a book is entering a magic world that will hopefully resonate with you for a very long time.

Finally I wanted to bring to the fore that there is not just one format for books.  Books can be sculptural and many artists have demonstrated the truly amazing possibility of paper as a medium. Creating the pop up was extremely challenging and at times I didn’t think I would succeed. I am planning to also explore book arts a lot more from now on.

I wish I had more time..I will revisit my project and very likely take it apart to start all over again! I will take my time and get it right.

photo 1




Final Project: Research Continued

It is some time a good idea to walk away (literally) from your own work, look at others and interact with fellow artists.

I am passionate about picture books! I am not sure how many I own but it is always a joy to look at the artwork and listen to the words rolling into songs almost. I treasure them. I have a few favourites.  Shh.

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A cupboard full of some of my picture books

photo 2

What do cats and dogs look like in picture books?

It seems that illustrators kept a closer likeness before than they do now even though Clifford is a huge red dog…


published in 1963


published in 2010



Published in 1991



Published in 2013











Another point that seems also obvious is that the dogs and cats look rounder when the books are targeted for a younger age group.


cat book 2













How did fine artists painted them? I had never thought about the difference before. Painters have to worry about accuracy and likeness as shown here.



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photo 5 photo 2 photo 1 photo 2












Contemporary artists have moved away from portraits and add another dimension to the animals that are so familiar to us as shown below.

Cat Art Show Los Angeles, a two-weekend, four-day group exhibition beginning Jan. 25, which promises “an examination of the psychology, inspiration and physical impact of cats in our lives.”

Kittens.Marion_Peck joann_biondi_lorenzo












Mira Schendel – Exhibition at Tate Modern.

Prior to the beginning of stage 2, I went to London to break away from books and sketchbooks and see art in the flesh. I went to Tate Modern and looked at the work of Mira Schendel (1919-1988) , whose work I had never heard of even though she was a prolific post-war artist from South America. Tate Modern has organizedthe first ever international full scale retrospective of her work and it was huge. It had about 250 works.

Mira Schendel with artwork

She was a painter, a poet, and a sculptor. A Jewish refugee from fascist Italy and born in Switzerland, she emigrated to Sao Paulo in the 1949. Her work is very diverse which makes it difficult to pigeonhole her. It also makes it more fascinating.  Schendel contributed to the development of Concrete and Neo-concrete art in Brazil during the 1960s, but she remained detached enough to develop a  distinct and unique body of work.

Her paintings are energetic. Their abstract nature and texture make them quite informal.  The paintings in the first rooms reminded me of Paul Klee (for whom I will post an entry later as his work is also exhibited at the Tate Modern) for the colours and the geometric shapes.

images-14   schmir0MiraSchendel1     Untitled 1963 by Mira Schendel 1919-1988

As we pursue our journey through the galleries, the work becomes more fragile. She sculpted with rice paper and drew on transparent paper where words are written in different languages. Sometimes they are philosophical quotes. Others just letters that seem floating in time and space. The effect is emphasised by the fact that the see-through sheets hang from the ceiling and twirl in front of you, giving the work an ever changing meaning.  Schendel wrote : “The back of transparency lies in front of you and the ‘other world’ turns out to be this one.” Reading about it, I then found out that phenomenology was at the source of her art –   in the idea of being and nothingness but I didn’t feel I needed to know this at the time to appreciate it.  Her work is multi layered.

Even weeks after, I can’t stop thinking about Schendel’s work. So powerful. so deep in meaning. The layout of letters puzzled me. What was intentional and what was totally spontaneous? Does it matter even? How can we really know what an artist intends at all times.  Her work is far reaching. For instance, by investigating  the chasm between  certainty and faith (she was brought up as a catholic although born Jewish). I sensed an artist  in search of her identity having been caught between religions, countries and cultures. I can relate to some of that. If I have time, I will definitely go back and ponder in the galleries some more.

images-16                    images-17 images-18 Unknown   Untitled, from the series Little Stubs 1973     Still Waves of Probability 1969

London Art Frieze

London Art Frieze

This year of all years, I missed it.  I did not book tickets in advance not knowing if I would find the time to fit it in and when I decided I would I couldn’t get any tickets. So I had to console myself with previews and reviews. You get the good, the bad and the wow I wouldn’t have thought of that. is this art? But as far as I am concerned as long as it stretches you, makes you question things and does not take advantage of people’s good nature or pockets, then it is all worth it.  I shall certainly not miss it two years running.  See you in 2014!