Thursday, July 26, 2018

Indirect Tacketed Sketchbook

I'm not sure the title is grammatically correct, but you get the point. I took Hilke Kurzke's Skillshare class on indirect tacketing. This is a book binding approach where you sew together the signatures of the book in a simplified coptic stitch, then sew the cover on separately with tackets. I had been looking for instructions for some kind of medieval style binding when Hilke announced this class.

I had my usual problems with not following directions. Hilke suggests eight sheets in each signature, but I arrogantly thought I would like four better. After sewing together the signatures I realized there wasn't enough space between them to accommodate the tackets, especially if I wanted to use stiff paper for the cover, which might be prone to tearing. So I took apart my book block and tore more sheets down to make ten signatures of eight sheets each. (above is the second version of the text block.)

After sewing together the book block I realized I hadn't thought ahead to the cover material. There wasn't anything in my studio that I liked and thought would be strong enough. Hilke does show how to re-inforce a heavy paper cover, I may try that next time. I have a couple pieces of nice, soft leather I could have used, but didn't want to use my "good" stuff for a test/learning project. So I cut a piece out of an old suede skirt I bought at the thrift store years ago. It must be from the seventies. I have been taking small pieces of leather from it for years. The original skirt was made of small panels so I couldn't get a piece large enough to cover the whole book. Instead I glued on some paste paper covered book board. Since I draw on my lap at night a lot, I prefer a firm cover on my sketch book, so I think this will work well.

There are multiple flaws, but for a first try I am very pleased. It will make a very nice sketchbook. Would I do it again? Yes indeed. I also think this would make a nice binding style for an artist's book with Medieval style drawings. I would have to make a mock-up to see how that would work, my books normally have heavier paper and not many pages. I think at least three tackets would be needed on the cover. That's my personal preference, one tacket would work fine, I just like threes or fives of things.

I like that unlike coptic binding, there is no fiddly sewing of the last signature and back cover together. That step always makes me tense. Also, the thread holding the text block together is thinner and not so noticeable. I do like colorful decorative stitching on the outside of the book, but a bright magenta thread thru the middle of the signature interrupts the page.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

From my sketchbook

This week I have been doing some blind contour drawings at night. And writing whatever comes to mind around them. I love the background texture the writing makes. Both images enlarge if clicked. Unfortunately much of what I write in my sketchbook is personal, so I can't publish it here. That's the deal I make with myself - I can do anything, messy, experimental, horrible failure. And it's all (mostly) private.

Drawing this skeleton blind contour made me think there are lots of interesting ways to draw skeletons. More to come. This also happens to be an interesting crop - I have an app called Atlas (iOS) that I think is for medical students. You can rotate the skeleton and take screen shots. I also like Pose Tool 3D which is good for different positions of arms, hands, etc.

This is from 3 photos of Feejee Mermaids. Sometimes overlapping contour drawings are very interesting. This is not quite, but the background saves it for me. The text is random phrases from an article.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

More Zymoglyphic Finds

In my search for an answer to the question "is it Zymoglyphic?" I have more finds. Mostly these things show up when we walk around, and I sometimes forget to take a camera. And when I take the camera I don't find anything.

This is one I kinda wish I had kept. It's a frame - from a mirror or some picture? I found it in the grass when we were walking around. People in Portland put things they don't want any more out at the curb. It's interesting and sometimes a gold mine.

Not much to say about this - plant material. I was a little surprised it was accepted, but it does look like a tiny tree.

A leaf skeleton - seems like a fairly ordinary thing, in the sense that they must be all over. But it's not easy to just walk out and get one when you need it and this one is almost intact. This and it's partner are already in a sculpture.

I regard this as a real treasure - a mat of leaves, moss, seeds, twigs, probably some dirt. I found them in a drainage gutter I was cleaning out. When they came out in big chunks, I thought they were perfectly Zymoglyphic. A big win!

I believe this is a leaf of an echinops, a perennial I am growing. It must have fallen off and been on the ground awhile. It's nice and dry and brittle. In the "what is it?" category. And extremely fragile.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

It doesn't look like me!

The hard thing about drawing people you know, friends or family, is that they want the drawing to look like them. If I make a drawing that focuses on line quality, or trying to capture a mood, the first response is "it doesn't look like me." On the one hand, I could say "take a picture." But often I think photos don't capture people very well either. It's very tricky to get a good photo of someone. One that makes you think their essence has been captured. So "take a picture" is really too glib. Back to drawing problems: I do empathize with people who want realism. When I draw my family I often end up thinking "that doesn't look like dad." If I took the image away from the photo I might consider it a good or at least a pleasant drawing for other reasons. But making the comparison can be disappointing. I think we are trained to expect a reproduction, not an impression. The better we know someone the more we want an accurate likeness.

I asked Jim his take on realism and he says it doesn't seem important because there is photography if you want a good likeness. In portraits a painting is interesting if it captures some common humanity. That's what makes Old Masters' paintings so good - you see their humanity over all this time and it still speaks to us. He thinks in contemporary portraiture the expressiveness of line and medium should say something about the subject. This from the guy who, when I did a loose, very impressionistic sketch of his mom, said "it doesn't look anything like her." Oh well. See above.

Somehow, even when I don't want to judge my drawings by their resemblance to the model, I do. Other people do too. This drawing of my dad interests me - when I compare it to the photo I used it's not that accurate. There are five sketches in this particular sketchbook of my dad. When I flip thru the book and glance at the others I think "that's supposed to be dad but it's not right." But when I see this one - I think "that's dad, that really feels like it's dad." Jim says it's like caricature - you can exaggerate some features and the person is still immediately recognizable even when it's not an exact likeness. So that may be what I see in this drawing.

Here's another pair for comparison. To me, knowing my dad, I just don't like this drawing. I know there are ways to get a more accurate drawing, a light pencil sketch, measuring, correcting, etc. would all make these drawings better. But that's not fun. I want to enjoy the drawing process more than I want realism. All the measuring and aiming for realism is what made me stop drawing years ago. If I was aiming for perfection I would probably stop drawing again. Still, I obviously am conflicted about the whole thing. As a friend says "Onward."

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Dream image

This is a bit of a mystery - it's dated March 29 of this year. But the time is 11:35 PM. I don't normally put a time on my dream records. On the bottom right it says "drawn when I first woke up. Ballpoint" I do remember drawing it, there was no dream, I just wanted to make this sketch.
Every time I see it in my sketchbook I like it. I'm not sure why, perhaps the looseness, the weird proportions, the skeleton? I'm about to finish my current sketchbook and wanted to have a copy of this image somewhere else.