On Being a “Real” Artist

Ginger Burrell Pyramid Box with Lotus Book SFSM

Well, here it is Tuesday again. And look, a blog post! I had to laugh when I realized I’ve been so busy since last Tuesday that I haven’t read any more of the book about getting organized and making routines. I’ll have to tell you about that another time.

When I was studying art in college,  I remember a discussion where a student pointed out that a “real artist” would let everything else in life go in order to make art. Art would come before family, income, chores, even eating.

Piffle.

This real artist made art this week, finished writing class descriptions, designed two new book structures, got her niece settled into college and just now booked travel for a funeral. This real artist is still terribly behind on a long list of things, but making progress.

Real artists have real lives. And if we’re lucky, busy, messy lives full of lot of people we love and who love us. And those people need us, need our time, and get in our way. Don’t even get me started on our pets.

To begin with, the college send off. I only cried a little bit. We were so focused on getting to the dorm room first so she could have the single bed in a triple room (success!), and getting her mountain of clothes, shoes and other supplies organized under said bed, I didn’t even have time to cry. And by the time the seven of us, who went to “help” her, had driven her crazy, she was so ready for us to leave, none of us cried. Of course when Greg and I got home we weren’t sure what to do with ourselves. And my first morning thought every day is still about what she needs, where she is, and whether she’s okay.

As far creating art, inventing book structures and writing class descriptions, I was working on a version of my pyramid box with magnetic closures, see the photo above. This version, designed for San Diego Book Arts needed to have a book inside. I experimented with stacked books and was underwhelmed. I really wanted something that made you go “wow” when it was revealed. I played with a variety of ideas and finally ended up with this, a set of four small triangular books with magnetic covers. When attached to each other with the magnets they create this intriguing and complex shape that I’m calling a Lotus Book. I’m pretty tickled with it.

I also designed a star book with magnetic covers that sits inside this hexagon box. I’ll be teaching both books and boxes in San Diego next April in 2017.

Ginger Burrell Hexagonal Box with Star Book SFSM

Today, after I finish my blog post, I’m cleaning. My studio is in such disarray that I have to move things to find things and move things to make space to work. I’ve got a bunch of boxes mostly made that are overdue to Vamp and Tramp. That’s my next big project… After I clean enough to find my table.

As far as the book on organizing one’s life? I’ll take that in my bag when we fly to Tucson for a funeral. I’ll tell you more about the book, and Tucson, next week.

Wishing you a lovely week full of messy, loving people who need you and get in the way.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Creating (And Re-Creating) Habits

Squirrel (1 of 1)

I think one of the hardest, and most important, things we can do as artists is create habits and routines to support our art-making. I’ve been creating, trying and ultimately re-creating, trying and often failing, to create habits and routines as an artist for nearly ten years.

Ten years. Wow. It doesn’t feel that long ago that I was truly terrified of calling myself an artist, let alone leaving the office work world to work in a studio and classroom. Along the way I’ve discovered that I am a master of distraction, procrastination and, perhaps worst of all, perfectionism. If you’ve seen the movie, Up, you know what I mean when I say, “Squirrel?!”

I love squirrels. We feed several of them at our bird feeders each day. In fact, I created a squirrel feeder by re-purposing a rabbit… See, there I go. I’ve been meaning to write blog posts for months. I’ve written dozens in my head. But since they’re never as well written as I’d like, and I don’t have exactly the right photo to post, or Ellis wants to play, or the dishes need done or there is an artists’ book I’m avoiding in the studio, no blog posts.

To be fair, and as my dear friend Karen would tell me, to be kind to myself, I have had a bit of a distraction for the last year. Our niece, Marisol, has been living with us and it’s been our responsibility to help her successfully make the transition from junior in high school to college freshman. With any luck we’ve taught Mari some things and she’s definitely taught us. And, next Saturday, our year of homework, worry, taxi service, cajoling, reminding and loving is coming to an end. She’s moving to college. Okay, well the loving and the worrying, that definitely isn’t coming to an end. As we’ve told her we will always do those things!

So I have the opportunity to re-work my schedule and the responsibility to improve it. I need to put into practice all the things I’ve been teaching Marisol. Make and keep a schedule. Keep a calendar. Fulfill responsibilities first. Stay focused. Squirrel?

Step one. I’ve put on my calendar as a recurring event, “Blog Post” on Tuesdays. Oh, I’d love to write them twice a week. Even three times. And I’d like each to be beautifully illustrated and inspire you deeply as an artist. But as my perfectionist self knows, if I try to meet those standards up front, I’ll never post. Instead of one blog a week, I’ll post one blog a month. Or every six months. Or year.

So, one post a week. Here it is. Next week I’ll tell you about the book I’m reading and the other habits I’m trying this time. And how I did my best not to cry when I left Marisol in her dorm room.

~Ginger

www.gingerburrell.com

 

 

 

New Class: Box Making Beyond the Rectangle

Join me for a new class beginning Friday, April 15th at the Palo Alto Art Center. The class will run for 10 weeks and we will make non-rectangular boxes including a triangle, a pyramid, a circle and a hexagon. Classes are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays. Sign up by calling the Palo Alto Art Center or enrolling using their online system. Only two spaces remaining in the class!

Below are photos of the magnetic pyramid box we’ll be making. Don’t miss out!

Memories of Love – a Vintage Valentine Flutter Book for You to Cut and Fold

valentine 2

I’m  a sucker for Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it is my love for chocolate or perhaps it is the pretty cards. My otherwise non-gushy husband often gives me a beautiful, sentimental card that melts my heart for the rest of the year — (I usually hear “ditto” in response to my professions of love.)

This year I’ve made a flutter book for you using images of the valentines I remember from my childhood. Remember those pretty paper valentines with the silly sayings and thin white envelopes? One of my earliest memories is being home sick from school, laying on our teal floral couch (it was the 70’s) and carefully signing my valentines in my best penmanship.

Whether as a gift for a friend, an addition to your collection, or as a way to share with your children the valentines of your youth, I hope you enjoy. Feel free to print and share as many as you’d like.

2016 Memories of Love by Ginger Burrell

This is a big file, so be patient. Click on the title below to download. Print on nice paper. For the demo book, to avoid the stark white, I printed mine on Wausau Royal Fiber in Birch. Be careful when you print. If your print dialogue defaults to “fit to page” it won’t work quite right. The book is designed to have the valentines centered on each page.

2016 Memories of Love by Ginger Burrell

After printing your page, fold the paper in half with the images on the outside and use a bone folder to make your crease sharp.

Memories of Love Flutter Book Instructions -Ginger Burrell (1 of 7)

With your paper still folded, fold each end into the middle fold. Remember to crease every fold. Unfold.

Memories of Love Flutter Book Instructions -Ginger Burrell (2 of 7)

Now fold your paper in half lengthwise. Crease with your bonefolder, then unfold.

Memories of Love Flutter Book Instructions -Ginger Burrell (3 of 7)

Re-fold your paper in half the first direction with the images on the outside. Cut with scissors, very carefully, from the top of the fold, down to the horizontal fold.

Memories of Love Flutter Book Instructions -Ginger Burrell (4 of 7)

Keeping your book folded, use the outer two folded halves to push inward. The cut halves will fold the other way so you have an X.

Memories of Love Flutter Book Instructions -Ginger Burrell (5 of 7)

Lay flat and press starting with the back page (the iron valentine). Voila!

Memories of Love Flutter Book Instructions -Ginger Burrell (6 of 7)

For more free Valentine’s books and instructions check out:

Valentine's Book for blog (1 of 2)

Make a Book for Your Sweetheart: Valentine’s Mosaic

 

 

 

and

Ginger Burrell - Valentines Flutter Book Directions (2 of 7)

A Valentine’s Flutter Book for Your Sweetheart

 

 

 

Wishing you and your loved ones a nice holiday.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

 

Workshop: Valentine’s Book for Your Sweetheart – Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016

 Sees Candy Box

Valentine’s Book for Your Sweetheart

**Two spaces left for the workshop this Saturday, February 6, 2016 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Ginger’s Morgan Hill Studio**

Create a box full of books that we’ll make out of polymer clay “chocolate” and paper. Your sweetheart will want to eat the delicious looking chocolates and then be tickled to find out that each is really a book with your sentiments inside. Make a whole box full for someone special or several small books for individuals. Class fee $100, Materials Fee $15

Here are some photos of the chocolates that other students have made in this class in previous years:

Stephanie Wolfson

Nancy Welch

Carol Dwinell

Questions? Please feel free to email.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

Gifts from Cathryn Miller

Artists in general are some of the most kind and generous people I’ve met. Book Artists, specifically, are especially giving of their time and talent. It is pretty easy to find free tutorials on how to bind handmade books, but unusual to find books with actual content available for free.

Cathryn Miller, of Byopia Press, offers two artists’ books for you to print and make at home.

The most recent, a DIY artists’ book (although she’s really done most of the work for you) is titled Feathers. It is beautiful! And well worth your time.

triple-print

Another interesting, well designed and fun project for you to make at home is CROP. Cathryn includes excellent step-by-step instructions with photos.

crop2

I hope you enjoy the projects. Be sure to drop Cathryn Miller a line and say thank you!

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Paper Dolls at Marin MOCA – 6th Annual Altered/Artist Book Show

I’m very tickled to share with you that Paper Dolls was awarded 3rd Place in this year’s (2015) judging by Donna Seager!…

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (3 of 8)

I participate in the Marin MOCA show each year with the idea that altered books can and should have the same standard of quality, content and detail as any artist book.

I entered the first year thinking that making an altered book was so different from how I usually worked that it would be a good stretch for me as an artist. To my surprise, over time, my experience in making books for Marin MOCA has influenced my regular art practice resulting in such titles as Reliquary, Dear IRS and Breathe for Those Cannot.

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (1 of 8)

This year’s altered/artist book entry, Paper Dolls, began as a feminist manifesto about the role of women in society past and the ever-present attempts to return women to that role. In the entire book, The Complete Book of Sewing by Constance Talbot (1943), there was only one photograph of a man sewing and he was listed as THE expert.

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (5 of 8)

Over time, however, Paper Dolls became a sentimental journey through my childhood. As I wrote the poetry, I realized that so much of how I make art now was influenced by the time I spent then with my mother imagining, designing, and creating clothing. Every trip to the fabric store was a lesson in color theory, textures, and attention to detail. Sensory memories of whispery pattern paper, the whirring sewing machine and being pricked with pins, still in the garment, began to rearrange my ideas.

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (8 of 8)

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (7 of 8)

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (6 of 8)

The finished book is multi-layered with poetry printed on cotton patterned fabric, pages made of layered pattern paper, and pages of the original book. The altered/artist book is sewn both by hand, with Coptic binding, and also by machine, through the cotton and paper pages.

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (4 of 8)

I am fascinated with technology and enjoy incorporating the digital with the traditional book form in a way that serves the book’s content. In the one copy for Marin MOCA,  Paper Dolls features a digital frame which plays a fashion show of pattern packets with women’s clothing from 1900 to the 1970s. This theme is further expressed with inclusion of cut-out paper dolls presented in the “sewing” box with the finished book.

Ginger Burrell - Paper Doll - Small Images for Web (2 of 8)

 

~Ginger

PS. Mom, I love you!

http://www.gingerburrell.com