Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Book Guild - Chapter 4

Welcome to the fourth edition of The Pulse -- The State of the Art -- a survey in words and pictures of the online artist community. Nearly 150 artists have answered a list of questions which make up The Pulse. Their responses will be presented as a series of online and print projects. Secret Sunday was the first project and the links to all the secrets can be found on the sidebar of my blog. The Book Guild is the second project and Chapter 4 starts right now!

All artists participating in The Pulse were asked to name their favorite art books. The Book Guild will present this list, along with links, book reviews, giveaways, and interviews with many of your favorite authors. And as members of The Guild, I am hoping YOU will participate by leaving comments related to the books in each post - for example thoughts, book reviews, personal experiences, or a link back to your own blog posts that include artwork based on a project in the listed book.
Chapter 4: Lynne Perrella

When I think about mixed media art, one of the first names that comes to my mind is Lynne Perrella. And clearly the same is true for many of you. Of all the authors mentioned in the survey, Lynne was mentioned the most. I am not at all surprised as her books are unique, creative, inspirational, informative, beautifully photographed and well designed. I find myself going back to them frequently for both reference and inspiration.

Three of Lynne's books were sited in the survey. The most popular, Artists' Journals and Sketchbooks, was a favorite of azirca, Erin Perry, Roben Marie-Smith, Lyle Baxter, and Laura Pace. Laura adds "I have had this book since it came out in 2004 and I peruse it often! I find it a good source for inspiration that goes way beyond art journals."

Artists' Journals and Sketchbooks: Exploring and Creating Personal Pages

The second book of Lynne's that was listed as a favorite was Alphabetica. Kathryn Antyr notes "This book features many artists and it is packed with lots of techniques and ideas."

Alphabetica: An A-Z Creativity Guide for Collage and Book Artists (Quarry Book)

Pam McKnight selected Art Making, Collections, and Obessessions , the third book of Lynne's that was mentioned, as a favorite.

Art Making, Collections, and Obsessions: An Intimate Exploration of the Mixed-Media Work and Collections of 35 Artists

Lynne is a pioneer in terms of mixed media. The force behind True Colors, Lynne continues to push the envelope as an artist and a role model. Having had the pleasure of taking two workshops from her, I can state first hand that she is a talented artist, a creative soul, an affirming person, and one of the most kind and generous individuals you could meet.
In Lynne's own words:

In 1968, I was eagerly looking for an entry-level job in an art department, and was sent by an employment agency to the offices of the Vogue Pattern Company. Soon, I was sitting across the desk from a woman who would become one of my most influential mentors and dearest friends, Pat Perry. Pat was about to embark on a two-year odyssey and bring a personal vision to reality. With her depth of experiences… working with the top couturiers in Paris, plus her vast knowledge of fashion and editorial marketing, and a thorough knowledge of construction and tailoring….she proposed to write “the ultimate sewing book”. In the highly-competitive, fast-moving world of publishing, she wanted to devote a significant period of time and resources to the task of creating a book that would redefine the genre and become the gold standard of sewing books.

I can still remember the moment when she turned in her swivel chair, and reached into a bottom desk drawer and pulled out a bundle, wrapped in a nest of dress patterns. She set it on the desk between us, and then peeled back the layers. Inside was her handmade “dummy” version of the Vogue Sewing Book. The outer housing was an orange slipcase, and the volume inside was filled with her own sketches plus ruled lines indicating text. She had selected an elegant ivory paper stock, imprinted in brown ink, with some of the headlines in a deep rust color. I had never seen a replica (or a “maquette”) of a book before, and had never given much thought to the “beginning” process of doing a manuscript or a published project. I had the great fortune of working for Pat for two years, and it was one of the best learning experiences of my life. And, sure enough, the published sewing book looked just like the handmade version she showed me during our first meeting. Her vision was realized, intact.


Years later, I had the opportunity to do my first book. (“Artists’ Journals & Sketchbooks”) Working in my art journals, I had redefined what I wanted to do with my artwork, and made the transition from commercial illustrator to mixed-media artist. The process of working in the journals, in a totally unguarded and unscripted way….after years of working “to assignment” and bending my ideas to suit a client or art director….was an important awakening. I felt a huge shift, from doing art that was “product” to doing work that was personal. Thinking back to Pat’s example, I realized that a book would be a wonderful vehicle for letting others know about this process and encouraging them to explore.

The idea of doing a “how to do it, step by step” project did not interest me, so the first assignment was to convince my publisher that I could impart a lot of information and motivation in other ways. I felt that inspiring examples of journals, from many respected colleagues (plus my own work), would provide a lot of inspiration and make the reader want to “go to their studio and MAKE something!”. Although I never needed to make a full-size replica version of my book, like Pat did, I constantly worked through my ideas with small thumbnail-sized layouts, called a “book map”.

Lynne adds: "I have kept the heavily-notated, revised, high-lighted, paper-clipped, and taped book maps of every book I have done, as visual 'souvenirs' of each project." And she was kind enough to share her book maps (as can be seen above and below) from her most recent book Art Making & Studio Spaces.

Art Making & Studio Spaces: Unleash Your Inner Artist: An Intimate Look at 31 Creative Work Spaces

Book Map pages 132-133

Actual pages 132-133

Writing the book was a welcome challenge, and I eventually learned that writing is a discipline, just like running or body-building. The only way to keep fluid and lubricated is to just, well, do it. Whenever I would feel dull-witted or “fresh out of words” I would look around me, and see the mailing cartons full of art journals sent by Juliana Coles or Lynn Whipple or Teesha Moore, and I would get launched all over again. The personal nature of the books, so vivid, intense, and wonderfully-diverse, would excite me and the words erupted.

I experienced a lot of “dual” emotions while I was writing the book, and realized that there was a surprising number of push/pull balancing acts that take place. (not easy for a Capricorn, I can assure you!) On one hand, I always had to hold my personal vision of the book as the final arbiter of any decision about content or style, and yet (as a new author) I knew that advice and guidance from an experienced editor was invaluable. I eventually learned that being a strong advocate for the project is just part of my job, and I grew to love that role. I am sure that, at some subterranean level, I was guided by the memory of Pat holding firm to her vision of the Sewing Book, and always staying true to her vision. Also, I realized that “objectivity” was completely out-of-the-question, and surprisingly unnecessary. I discovered that my mission was to be passionate, energized and committed to the subject of art journals, and to drive that enthusiasm across the Finish Line.

It often takes months for the first “author’s copy” of a published book to be delivered, following make-ready work in the US and abroad, and the first moment of sitting with the completed book, paging through, can be totally surreal. Suddenly, all the computer files, the cartons of artwork packed up and sent along for photography, the endlessly-revised book map, and the initial spark that lit the fuse in the first place…..all of that (and much, much more) has now been distilled into an actual BOOK.

My first author’s copy of my first book has a special place on my shelf…..right next to a signed copy of The Vogue Sewing Book. Thanks, Pat.

Lynne Perrella

Visit Lynne here. And tell her Seth sent you!


Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

I hope to someday meet Lynne...I have all four of these books and when she writes I feel we are sitting at the studio table or the dining room table ...talking processes and making sacred marks. My latest acquisition is the Artist Studios publication and this intimate view has opened my heart to knowing that every day we need...we have to do it. Lynne empowers those who may never meet her. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Unknown said...

I was lucky to win Lynne's "Art making and studio spaces" in a blog giveaway lat year and I browse it over and over. It's a huge inspiration in my attempts to bring my own work into more of a mix. Big learning going on!!

ArtPropelled said...

I also have all four of Lynnes books. Art Making, Collections & Obsessions is my favourite and I dip into it regularly. So many interesting snippets in this post!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

What a great interview. Lynn Perrella edits some fabulous books. I was in awe of her remarks, especially where other artists' works sent in boxes and boxes, inspired her. I really enjoyed learning a bit about her process.

Healing Woman said...

I can see now why you think Lynne is such a giving, kind person. She gives almost complete credit to Pat Perry for helping to make her who she is today, or at least for inspiring her to create her own books. Not too many authors alot others that much credit. Her books are quite interesting and her project of True Colors is probably one of the most inspirational art books I have ever read and re-read many times.

Thanks for posting the interview with Lynne.

lyle baxter said...

seth, you know that Lynne is my all time favorite author in the field of mixed media. how wonderful that she wrote such a great article for you to share with all of us.I would say to anyone who is truly interested in learning the ins and outs of art journaling get Lynne's books. they are still the best each time I dig around inside. lyle

Bea said...

If you take a peek in most of our studios you will probably find a well worn copy of one or more of her books. What an inspiration for all of us. :)Bea

Lisa said...

Lynne is an inspiration and brilliantly talented.. I frequently refer to her Art Making book as it is one of my all time favorites. Thanks for featuring her today.. really enjoyable post!

Erin in Morro Bay said...

No doubt about it - Lynne is the best! I've taken half a dozen workshops with her over the last few years and truly consider her my mentor in the mixed media field. As you noted Seth, the greatness of her artistic talent is completely matched by her generosity of spirit, not to mention her wicked sense of humour!

Patti Sandham said...

That was an awesome post. I have been lucky enough to take a class from Lynne and I loved it! I have Artist Journals and Sketchbooks, Alphabetic and True Colors and I still go back and look through them for both technique ideas and inspiration. I would love to get the two newest ones. I love her sophisitcated yet raw stye that is so recognizable as Lynne Perella.

A fan

Commuter's Journal said...

Wonderfully told, Seth! I think that Lynne Perella is one of our most brilliant artists/teachers and it's so inspiring to read about her background and how she works. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Nice chapter on Lynne Perrella - I've long admired her work and resonate with her style.

I nearly forgot to tell you that I shared your link on Crescendoh (Apr. 18) today:
Just wanted to give you a shout out, as you so inspire me!

Julie Prichard said...

Really nicely done, Seth.. I liked reading this story.

Anonymous said...

oooh, this is fantastic! i own most of these books but there are two i do not have. you make amazon love me, seth. every time you post a few fabulous book i run off and buy it.

great article! i love lynn -- she is fantastic and ever so inspiring.

Caterina Giglio said...

loved hearing about the vogue sewing book! I will go and tell her that you sent me! and thanks for the kind remarks! beer coaters indeed! LOL!

Caterina Giglio said...

loved hearing about the vogue sewing book! I will go and tell her that you sent me! and thanks for the kind remarks! beer coaters indeed! LOL!

reagan said...

I loved reading this Seth. I've sent off the cartons of artwork, written the text, gathered wonderful contributions from other artists like yourself:-) and now I'm in that waiting period. This gave me just the lift I needed today to remember the day will come soon that I'll get to hold my book in my hands and see the end result of all the work this past year. I'm excited anew, thank you Lynn and Seth! I too have a little moleskine full of notes, and drawings documenting the journey so far. So amazing to see the process through the eyes of one of the leading inspirations in the realms of mixed media.
thank you!

Unknown said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love Lynne Perrella and her books, and now I am an even bigger fan. Thanks so much for sharing her story!

Jill Z said...

Great book guild post and just fascinating to read about how Lynne began her "career" and how serendipity paved the way with her passion, energies and enthusiasm! Loved reading about her book map. Wonderful info on her books, the journey she's taken and thoughts from your readers!

Lucky Dip Lisa said...

Wonderful, wonderful post Seth! I've read one of these books cover to cover several times and I loved it! I feel there is a 'book' in me which will one day get written so I find posts and artists such as Lynne incredibly inspiring!

Thankyou Lynne and Seth!

Kim Palmer said...

I'm on catch up after being flattened by a virus but boy was this one worth waiting for! Great reading Lynne's own words and fascinating learning more about the process of developing a book too! Great choice Seth really enjoyed this piece!

Leslie Avon Miller said...

I truly enjoyed reading about Lynne's process. Thanks Seth and Lynne.