The Sketchbook Project

IMG_4017When I picked up this book – almost a year ago now! – I had no idea what I was getting myself into. And not that it had to be a big thing, but it turned into one. The Sketchbook Project, for those of you who don’t know, is an amazing collaborative, crowd-sourced art project where anyone can buy one of these little books, fill it with whatever they want, and then send it back in and it becomes part of this library that tours the country and then comes to rest at a storefront in Brooklyn where anyone can get a library card and then look at all these (33,000+) submissions! You can also view many of the sketchbooks online through their digital library. So cool, right?

IMG_0707Every submission year is kind of like a different cohort with a separate set of themes that artists can use to categorize their books. One of the themes this year was Parts of the Whole which really resonated with me and the style of art that I do – there are so many parts that I create individually in order to form a whole picture.
And then there’s my friend group, which has been a very solid urban family for the past 4+ years (and several people I’ve known since my portland days!) We took this great trip for Memorial Day last year, taking off 3 days of work (longer than I took off to go to Panama) in addition to Memorial Day to go to a lake house upstate. The picture I used is of all of us on a day we rented a pontoon boat in the rain, and our “captain” expertly maneuvered it to the dock connected to our house so that we could go in and wait out the worst of it. So, it’s all these little pieces of paper that make up the picture, and it’s all these wonderful people who make up this amazing group.

IMG_4019When conceptualizing it – I know that what I do is pretty far from sketching (and actually I really want to take a drawing class because I think my lack of self-originated creation skills are starting to hold me back) Instead of doing a different piece for each page, I wanted to do something sort of “sketchy” – showing the process and the work that went into the final. And also relates to the theme. So I kept all of the paper scraps from which I cut the individual pieces, in order to put them on all of the pages of the book leading up to the final page where the completed picture would be.

IMG_3751Some other decisions I didn’t make until I was in it – for instance, making each person a different color. This was honestly a defensive move because I’d never made a piece with so many people in it, and I wasn’t sure whether they would differentiate enough. Maybe next time I do something like this (will I ever?) I’ll just trust you’ll be able to tell what’s going on… we’ll see. Also the background being more-or-less black and white was a late decision, based mainly on the fact that as I was constructing it I was putting all the people on the original black-and-white print out of the photo and it looked pretty cool, and people were like “you should leave it like that!” which I wasn’t going to do. But I think it worked because it makes the people pop more.







IMG_3892Another last minute decision was to separate all the negative pieces by person and arrange them individually on the preceding pages. I sort of tried to have them start as completely abstract, and move slowly towards something somewhat recognizable as human by the end – or at least more forming something.

IMG_3626There were also a number of missteps along the way which, in hindsight, could have made for interesting inclusions (for instance, the pontoon boat was originally a bunch of different gold and metallic papers, as I have many of those, but it just didn’t read right and honestly had no place competing with my friends for visual attention, so I had to scrap that. And a couple of people’s faces or clothing articles were wrong and had to be switched out).

IMG_3814Anyway, after the many many days and nights of anti-social-ness (kind of ironic, seeing as it’s a project about my friends) I had the main piece done, and I had painstakingly saved all of the negative spaces from which all the pieces were cut. Then it was time to start thinking about assembly.

IMG_3826The book is 5″X7″ and there are 8 10″X7″ pages folded in half and stapled in the center. You’re allowed to dismantle the book and do whatever you want to it (as long as the final product fits back into the original dimensions) and I knew I didn’t want the final picture page to be split onto two half-pages, so I decided to take out all the pages and put them in more like a fan so all of them would be able to lie flat in the final. Also, because although I had so so many pieces of negative (and I’d also saved all the little tracing paper shapes I used to transfer the image from the photo to the paper), I didn’t think I had enough to fill up all both sides of all of the pages in the book. So I used only the front sides of each of the pages and then glued them to each other so that each page would lie flat and nothing would be cut in half.

IMG_3750And then there was gluing. Confession: I am not so great at actually constructing my art pieces. I make all the shapes, but then to connect them to one another, all the pieces are precariously held together with stingy pieces of masking tape. Then when it’s all assembled, I have to figure out how to make them stay like that and actually be a finished product. This is enough of a struggle for me when I’m making something to go in a frame on a wall and never be touched again, let alone making it to be handled by who-knows-how-many people!

IMG_3849Enter Mod Podge. I had heard of this stuff before, but shockingly never actually used it. My hope was that it was magic and could soak through all my layers of paper, binding them together without me having to really do anything, but I guess it doesn’t work that way. I also didn’t anticipate that it would make all the pages and pieces wrinkly. Maybe there’s a way to use it so it doesn’t? but anything I put the glue on started to curl, and the thinner papers curled almost to the point of unsalvageability, so that was challenging. And the pages started feeling like plastic, which I guess they partly were by the end.

IMG_3893There was the additional challenge of the pieces of paper that ended up in the creases, and figuring out how to get them to stick in such a way that they could fold up and lay flat. If you look closely at the arm of one of the people in the final, you can see that this got a little messed up.

IMG_4018Also I used a rubber stamp set for the dedication and info pages, and also for the title of the book (it’s the hashtag my friends put on all the pictures associated with our trip – we were staying near Caroga Lake) but because of the Mod Podge the ink didn’t dry, and smeared when I tried to put on another layer of glue, so I had to go back over it in sharpie. And then there was getting the pages to actually be in the cover, which I did by sewing them in with dental floss – I’d heard it was really strong! (Mint waxed, for the record)

Another learning curve was the whole abstract-art aspect of the negative space pages. Not something I’ve really ever done before, although I really do like abstract art, and I think there’s definite room for compositional improvement there! But it was fun, and a stretch. And sometimes I get a little tired of my art form and wonder whether it’s really art or just craft, and I think if it’s challenging and emotional then it definitely is, and this definitely was.


The Lakes Project


My best friend from childhood asked me to help make the table markers for her Minnesota wedding, and she said that she wanted each table to be a different Minnesota lake.  I decided to pick all our favorite lakes from growing up, and then a few others with either fun names or fun shapes or both!  I used a different blue scrapbooking paper for each lake, and made a border for them all with the same sandy orange (the wedding colors were blue and orange, so it worked out!) I made the lakes 2-sided so that they could stand up, which means that from one side you’re looking at the lake from underneath, which I think is fine.  I made corresponding name cards for each of the lakes using the orange as the center, and the blue for the border, which was cool because then people could find their lakes just based on the pattern, and because the backs of some of the blue papers were really awesome and this way people got to see them!





Secret Valentine’s Day


I organized a Secret Valentine exchange for my work and we were only allowed to spend $5, and homemade gifts are always appreciated, so I decided to make the card (I also got my valentine a small plant). I made a heart out of like 20 different papers and then collaged them together on the front of a blank card. Happy almost Valentine’s Day!



Also while I was bored at home recovering, I made some portraits of models from magazine ads. 

The gold hair girl is my favorite – crazy hair is always the most fun to make. 

20140126-154714.jpgThe one of the green girl I donated to my friend’s Marathon fundraiser and apparently it became a new New Yorker’s first piece of art for her new apartment!

20140126-154722.jpg(Gold Hair and Blue Mom are available if you’re interested)


Girl with a Gun


A friend told me he liked my art, but that he thought it would really only appeal to chicks (which wasn’t the first time I’d heard that).  He said if I wanted to make something for dudes it would have to be a girl holding a gun or something.  Done.


Thank You Cards


With all my time staying home recovering from surgery and unable to do much, I decided to make thank you cards for all my amazing friends who took care of me and kept me company.  These are all cutouts from scrapbooking paper.



These ones were cutouts of images from the different papers

These were all doodles of mine that I traced and cut out

20131230-220738.jpgThis one was taken from magazine picture, I think it was a nail polish ad or something

Dear Surgeon


I tore my ACL playing soccer and was a little terrified about surgery.  I decided to make a card for my surgeon with a guilt-trippy message about “thank you in advance for making me able to run again” and “I’m so grateful to be in the hands of such a respected surgeon” or whatever, and I put an image of a girl running on the front.  The hardest part of this was making so small an image, but it worked out. And he did a good job!

Self Portrait 2


A boyfriend at the time took a picture of me that he really liked, but I did not at all. So to get rid of it I made it into this portrait, which I do like.

Cellist for Grandma


My grandmother was a wonderful cellist, and she loved everything music related, so for her 80th birthday I made her a cellist portrait. I used glossy paper to make up the instrument itself in order to make it pop a little bit.

Self Portrait 1


I wanted to start posting my stuff on Etsy, which never actually happened, but at the time I thought I should do a self-portrait that I could use as my thumbnail, or whatever. This one comes from a photo taken at the Sasquatch Festival campgrounds at the Gorge in George, Washington.


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