Saturday Creative Stroll (3.15.14)

Time for some creative leaps around the world. Today is the day the turkey vultures return to Hinkley, Ohio. They have come back on March 15 every year since 1957.  No one is certain why the buzzards come back or how they know when to come back. But they do.

Crows are birds that can learn tricks. They are also tool users and problems solvers. Here’s an amazing video of a crow that learned eight different steps to solve a tool-using problem:

Natsuo Ikegami has a big imagination and creates characters that seem to live in dreams or worlds that we have yet to discover.

Images by Natsuo Ikegami

Images by Natsuo Ikegami

These two are from a series called “To A New Land.”

A variety of artists work with books. The resulting art keeps books out of landfills.

r4i67ryjghjghbAtelier Bom Design creates lamps. Maybe because books are such bright ideas?

Gowri Savoor is an artist who uses seeds as an art medium. As someone who wears a silver seedpod as a totem necklace, this collection fascinated me.

seedbank2Savoor experiments with mixed media, fabric and wood, but the seeds inspire her. Born in Leicester, England, she now lives in Vermont.



The sculptures are largely geometric, but the series becomes more and more complex.

"Seascape" is made of pinecone seeds.

“Seascape” is made of pinecone seeds.

Savoor says, ““In themselves they’re very fragile. No matter what I do, the pieces will continue to decay. There’s a human sadness as well, that everything will eventually die.” (via junk-culture)

Have a creative weekend!

–Quinn McDonald is fascinated by artistic invention.




Saturday Link Love

Andrew Hayes has two great loves–pulp books (or at least their pages) and smooth, cool metal. He chose to combine them into sculptures that contrast hard and soft, permanent and easily destroyed.

© Andrew Hayes

© Andrew Hayes

23The ease and almost weightless grace make these very pleasing to look at. I’ve love to touch them.

The sculptures are sensual and curved and quite beautiful. It combines altering books with metal sculpture.

Stencils and spray paint are the medium of the artist Above, who creates street art. Above works with shadows and electrical lines and integrates artwork into the surroundings.

© Above

© Above

The image above shows a long line of people, defeated and waiting. It’s outside an unemployment office in Spain, a country that has a high rate of unemployment.

© above

© above

Here, Above painted white paint over a wall defaced with graffiti, then added the figures to make it an unhappy school day.

The artist Mossi is interested in mark making–that sounds startlingly undefined.



But the marks are made with colored pens, meticulously used. The resulting mask-like figures are built on layers of lines and varying colors, which blend into each other and overlap each other.

© Mossi

© Mossi

At first I thought the lines were words, but it is all graphic. And the lack of words is also interesting, detailing smooth lines and connecting shades of meaning.

Have a creatively magical weekend!

-Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist. She loves knowing what other people think when they make their art.

Saturday Link Hop

Kerry Miller re-imagines books. She imagines them without words. Using just the illustrations already in the book, Miller removes the type and then re-arranged the carefully removed illustrations to re-create a different book.


She may add color if it is needed, but the rest of the impressive work comes from careful cutting and arranging the book’s illustrations.

Remember the Oliver Sachs books on synesthesia? It was called Musicophilia. Synesthesia is a disease in which the brain is rewired to allow one sense to be interpreted by another. Numbers appears as colors. Conversations as smells. You can see how fast it gets interesting.


Designer Raphaël Pluvinage turns synesthesia into an art form. He makes jellies that create electronic noise. And yes, he calls them Noisy Jellies.

You mold jelly with certain salts in them. You then place them on a board attached to a computer and touch the jelly and it makes noise. Vary the ingredients, vary the sound. You can also vary the song by how you touch the jelly. So the kit comes with powders labeled “bass” and “scratch.”

I’d love to spend a day in his brain and see what the world looks like through his eyes.

In 1612, Pendle Hill in England was not a safe place. A witch trial took place and 10 people were hanged as witches. Phillippe Handford became interested in the area not just because of the witches, but because the trees in the area were illegally cut down.

Philippe-Handford-installation7Phillippe decided that the trees needed healing. Using wood from similar trees, he creates metal frames that hold wood slices to look as if they have been re-attached to the trunks. The trees seem to be resting rather than uprooted.

–Quinn McDonald is on her way to Madeline Island. She hopes you are having a creatively fascinating weekend.

Repurposed Book as Journal, Part II

Last week, I tore the covers off a book and used them as postcards. Then I used the book as a 3-D journal. Or at least I started it. I promised an update, and here it is. I wanted to used this folded-page book as an ephemera journal–a place to store some pretty visuals so I could see them. This might include some pieces you can’t normally (easily) put in a journal–like the big key.

Click on any image for a much larger view. I finally figured out how to make that happen.

Side view showing the stand I made for the journal

For the base, I used about 75 pages of the original book, cut off with a craft knife. I glued the pages together randomly (every 3 to 5 pages) and put them in a book press to create a nice hard stack. I then used pages from a larger book and wrapped the book block like a present, gluing it firmly into place. I deliberately used a lighter paper to create contrast. Then I applied glue to the first and last pages of the folded sheets and glued those onto the wrapped book block.

Click for larger view. You can see two feathers and some ribbons connected to fun items.

From the front, you can see there is a lot of room left to add emphemera. There are two feathers–one is large enough to be tucked in on its own, the other is glued to a small tag. The thread holds the tag to the piece, but allows flexibility of movement.

Postcard reminders and ticket stubs are exchangable. Click to see a bigger view.

The advantage to this journal is that it is flexible. When I want different affirmations or postcards, or have had enough of feathers, I can move them to different places, hide them in between the pages or put them in another journal and use new pieces here. It’s a great way to look at new pieces and decide what to do with them.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. She has an unending love of journals of any sort.

Books as Art

When a plumber or electrician comes into my house, they often stop in their tracks in the living room. They stare at the 20-year-old TV that takes up the center portion of a big book case. The book case has deep shelves, and on each shelf is two rows of books. The former dining area is my office. My desk is surrounded by a row of book cases. Almost always the repair person asks, “Are you, a librarian?” or “Have you read all of these?” No, and yes.

I love books. I decorate with them, I make them, I use old ones and re-purpose them. Books are so much more than reading material to me. They are art.

(c) Vladimir Kush's Atlas of Wander

(c) Vladimir Kush's Atlas of Wander

Vadimir Kush is a painter. His remarkable transformation of a tree into a book is Atlas of Wander. (Shown small, at left). It represents both the power of books, as well as the tree from which most of their paper comes from. To say nothing of the transformative nature of reading.

At the Website Dark Roasted Blend, there’s a two-parter about altered books. Part I was interesting; I was especially interested in the code-like writing in one of the books. In Part II, she shares some amazing images of cut-up, re-shaped books. If you cringe at altering books, this site will amaze you. Jacqueline Rush Lee is turning books back into magical apparations, I swear!

Cara Barer poses books to look like new life, then photograph them so we can enjoy that new life. These airy, curvey, sculptures make you glad you own books.

Because, quite frankly, there are times I feel like the last person on earth to love books for their own sake.

Georgia Russel is an artist who uses a scalpel the way most artists wield a brush or pencil. Her constructions take books, photographs

Le Voleur de Souffle, (c) Georgia Russell

Le Voleur de Souffle, (c) Georgia Russell

and musical scores, as well as maps and currency, and makes them into something so different, so structurally aesthetic, it takes your breath away. To the right is Le Voleur de Souffle, (Translation: The Thief of Breath), a cut book jacket in an acrylic case, 14 x 9 x 4 inches.

There are days I hate the whole world of technology and all the evil things it has spawned that don’t work, disappear, have to be rebooted. Today was not one of those days. Today, technology brought the world of art books into my grasp, and I am grateful.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. Her book, Raw Art Journaling will be published in July of 2011.

Altered Book: Fahrenheit 451

The Big Read is an idea sponsored by the Valley’s libraries. Each year a book is chosen and libraries sponsor events to encourage people to read that book. One of the events involves artists–I was one of the artists chosen to alter the book for a display at one of the libraries. This year’s book is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

What makes the book interesting is that the 1953-written book has elements of  current reality–a society obsessed by television and celebrities, a fear of intellectual discussions at social functions, a minority kicking up a fuss about books, which are subsequently banned from libraries, and my favorite, a love of wearing earbuds and being plugged in to programmed music.

In my approach to altering the book, I chose the idea from the final scene of the book, in which people become living books. Readers live in books, so I created a row-house made of books. In the image below, the central house is Fahrenheit 451, surrounded by other book houses.The pages of the central book are stuffed with message tags.

Altered book, Fahrenheit 451. © Quinn McDonald, 2009

Altered book, Fahrenheit 451. © Quinn McDonald, 2009

Each house represents a genre: mystery, science fiction, art and poetry. Because love of nature was banned in the story, the two houses on the left represent winter and spring, and the two books on the left represent summer and fall.

Altered book detail, left side © Quinn McDonald, 2009

Altered book detail, left side © Quinn McDonald, 2009

Altered book right-side detail. © Quinn McDonald, 2009

Altered book right-side detail. © Quinn McDonald, 2009

The tags are all quotes about books, all  from famous people. Ray Bradbury’s own quote, “You don’t have to burn books to destory a culture, Just get people to tstop reading them,”  is there, as well as Salman Rushdie’s quote, “A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it or offer your own version in return.”

Detail of book tags, © Quinn McDonald, 2009

Detail of book tags, © Quinn McDonald, 2009

In the heart of the book (I chose page 98 deliberately, as 98.6 Fahrenheit is the normal temperature of the human body), there are flames on one side and a matchbook on the other. The matchbook has a burning match on the cover, and the inside “matches” are the spines of books that have been banned in the past.

Right side detail, matchbook © Quinn McDonald, 2009

Right side detail, matchbook © Quinn McDonald, 2009

The matchbook itself is surrounded by paper flames that have already consumed the page of the book.

The tags are removable for easy reading, and can be used as bookmarks. I hope the book is displayed in a way that allows people to touch it and play with it.

Banned books as matches, detail of altered book, © Quinn McDonald, 2009

Banned books as matches, detail of altered book, © Quinn McDonald, 2009

I read the book when I was about 10 and just discovering science fiction. My first big literary shock was discovering that Bradbury had made a mistake, paper bursts into flame at 451 Celsius, not Fahrenheit. Yes, I stuck a piece of paper in the oven to see it burst into flame.

It took me a long while to accept altered books. The thought of ruining a book was overwhelming. But the lure of transforming a book that was scheduled for the shredder into a piece of art won me over.

The satisfaction of planning out a concept and carrying it through was really satisfying. I am honored to have been chosen for this project. And yes, I do custom altered books to honor a special event or person.

–—Quinn McDonald is a life- and certified creativity coach. She teaches people how to write and give presentations. She also teaches people who can’t draw how to keep an art journal.

Book Art and Color Thesaurus

There is so much information on the Web, it’s amazing we can sort out the useful from the dregs. I depend on others who find wonderful things to send them to me; I post them so you can add them to your bookmarks. Pete Harbeson and Paul Lagasse are major sources of wonderful and obscure links. Today, it’s Pete’s turn.

He knows I’m an artist, so he sends me art links. He sent me this great thesaurus for color names. After all, who knows the difference between bluebell and azure? The Color Thesaurus does!

And if all that color needs to go into a sketchbook, here is one that is both horizontal and vertical.

Brian Dettmer’s workYou may be familiar with the work of Brian Dettmer, particularly if you are attracted to altered books. (That’s an example of his work on the left.) This site shows Brian’s work, but it is not Brian’s site. However, this site, Centripital Notion, will also treat you to a film of a sphere being turned inside out.

Go get inspired!

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach and a writer. See her work at Image: Brian Dettmer’s work on Centripital Notion.