art to art

A Creative Life, artist book, books, Dogs in Art, published art

In my last blog post (link here) I talked a bit of my personal list of “9 ways to make more art” and after posting I realized that I could have added a 10th one: Take a past art project that was enjoyable and “add a thought” to it, re-do it in a new context.  This could be called “working to a theme” but I think of it like Jazz music – a call and response conversational play on a melody.

For example recently I took some concepts from my book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”, spun them around my cerebral tumbler and created a new one-of-a-kind artist book.  My new book is titled “Stories We Could Live Inside – Or Not (A house is a framework for physical life. Language is a framework for mental life.)”

Here is a photo of it in-progress. You can see a print copy of my “Dr. Bob…First Aid Kit” book beside my new work-in-progress.


My work in progress – taking a few concepts from my book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” and playing with them again.

Here’s some of what I was thinking as I worked on this new book:

During the original “First Aid Book” book work I was in regular contact with Dr. Bob Hoke – and in our many conversations he’d talked about how his role as a psychiatrist was to get inside his patients small-world mental boxes, the life-limitations they had accepted without consciously realizing it, and slowly expand the sides of the box, make a door or window in the box – something so that the patient could choose to find a way out. He spoke of how stories are mental structures, much the way houses are physical ones. However stories are something we live inside often without thinking that they are “stories” – optional social constructions – because habitual language forms the framework of our daily habits of mind, our attitudes and ways of responding to the world. A house is a framework for physical life. Language is a framework for mental life. The kinds of houses we live in can affect the quality of our life. Similarly the stories we tell ourselves and each other can affect the quality of our life – for either good or ill – if we accept and believe them.

I thought of all of this during several of my regular morning ‘creative appointments’ with myself before the day gets started. I wrote out my thoughts on scraps of paper and in my sketchbooks. You can see some of those scraps in the picture above.  I made book dummies. I sketched ways to organize my thoughts into book form. I decided to use dogs are as character-actors in “Stories We Could Live Inside Or Not” because for me dogs represent a joyful exuberance at being alive. I sketched dogs.  And I decided on a paper-house shape…

It took me probably a month or more of “creative appointments” where I’d work a bit on this “Stories we could…” idea; getting it, developing it, refining it, experimenting with the various artwork parts of it.  The rest of my work days were devoted to 6 or so hours worth of work on my other creative projects… and the other stuff of life.  When my “Stories we could…” ideas had “gelled” to a certain point and I felt I needed more time to work on the project I scheduled a few concentrated times, more time than my typical “creative appointment” time allotment had been, to work on it. A few sessions like that and I finished the book! Another scheduled time session and I submitted it for consideration by the 23 Sandy Gallery. 

Here is a video of the final book “Stories we could live inside… or not”

9 thoughts on “art to art

  1. Revisiting a project for inspiration is a great idea. I love how densely layered your projects are, so full of information and meaning, and I love the engineering of your book too.

    1. Thank you Laura!! It took me more than several “creative appointments” to get that book engineering figured out. I find it helpful to work in short bursts as that allows my unconscious mind to work on the “problem” between appointments. I literally woke up one night with an ‘aha!’ moment during this project! Lol!

      1. It’s funny how that middle of the night thing happened. When I was stuck with my thesis, I dreamed of I read a book. I woke up and wrote down what I remembered and that was the key to my thesis.

            1. Oh wow!!! That’s awesome Laura!! I’d happily read your dissertation!! Did you publish it in any form so I could read it? Somewhat on the topic: I recently read a book called “Dead Feminists”… you might enjoy that book too… Wishing to hear more about your thesis … and your favorite books…

            2. The University of Edinburgh will possibly have a copy archived somewhere but otherwise it wasn’t published as it was an undergraduate thesis. It was essentially about the tropes used to depict “fallen women” regardless of the nature of their “fall” being the same, the comparison between these women and “pure” women in each instance, and an arc that inevitably leads to some form of destruction as opposed to redemption. Man, that was almost 20 years ago. I should try to find my copy and reread it.

              ‘Dead Feminists’ has been on my wish list for a while now. I will need to treat myself to it at some point. Have you read Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to be a Woman’. I found that to be an interesting and enjoyable read.

              Favourite books are hard to identify as I love so many. Probably my favourite novel most consistently over the years is ‘Frankenstein’. I loved teaching that too.

            3. Wow! Thanks for your description of your thesis! I’ve been fascinated by how women have been depicted in artwork – and how that has changed over time. And the perceptions of “purity” or “falleness” within the way the artist depicts women. Umberto Eco’s book titled “Beauty” has great pictures/discussions. Would love to read your thesis! And thanks for the book suggestion! I’ll look for Caitlin Moran’s book. Oh and yes, Frankenstein… read that many times too, and E.A. Poe… I’ve also studied the pictorial representations of “monsters” and the “grotesque” thru art history – and how that perception changes over time! Are you and I perhaps twin siblings and just don’t know it?? Lol!

            4. My thesis actually referenced the depiction in contemporary art too – such as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

              I think maybe we are twins – I’m also a Poe fan and I have a keen interest in concepts of monstrosity and freakishness (I’m into the history of freak shows) as well as loving mythological monsters.

              I haven’t read the Eco book. I will need to add that to my list too.

Thank you for reading and sharing encouragements!