I’m finishing up a fine art commission for someone’s holiday present. So instead of talking about that – here’s a painting I finished just before the holiday rush began. Titled “Hare Heritage” and created with ink and gouache.
As I work I’m experimenting with the 3rd person omniscient narrator – and other narrator writing techniques. The viewer of Hare Heritage (the third person) can see and speculate on 2 visual story-lines within this painting.
It’s a fun challenge to apply writing techniques to fine art! And using the topic of readers and books adds to the pun.
My friend and neighbor, who has two grandchildren under the age of 2, was showing me a vintage toy that was purchased for the kids; a red and blue ball with shaped holes in it, with the yellow-block shapes inside the ball. You pull open the ball, the yellow-shape blocks spill out and you can put the blocks back inside the ball by matching the block shape and the hole shape.
At the time I was working on an illustration and was stumped for the “language” that the space alien creature would be speaking. The “language” in my artwork would need to somehow imply the ways the content of a book can “fit” with or resonate with a reader.
My conversation with my neighbor helped – creative problem solved!!
As I did the layout and design for “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” I was thinking about the bathroom. There’s even a part in the book that talks about the use of self-care phrases on the bathroom mirror.
sample text from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”
When it came to printing I chose a slick cover-stock and slick, thick pages for the inside of the book too. I was thinking of the wet, steamy conditions a bathroom can have. I also took care to select a font that would be easy to read without ones reading glasses. It’s a font that will be easier for dyslexics to read too.
I forgot to think about the requests I’d get to sign the book. As I’ve visited with people about carrying my book in bookstores I’ve been asked to autograph some books. The slick pages that allow for fairly easy wipe-off of toothpaste etc. don’t allow ink.
So I autograph them on the inside front cover. No biggie in the scheme of things. I think it’s far more important that the book be able to reside in a bathroom where self-care is regularly practiced!
Direct link to my new print version of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” here.
They came in a big box. My early copies of the new print version of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”! The official release of this book is November 1st – but you can click here for early access. I’ll be able to look at a print copy tonight while I brush my teeth – and that’s what I’d hoped for back when I started this project! But first – more happy dancing around the living room!
Here’s the cover for the new print version of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”. Keeping the hand-drawn look for the cover was important. Half of this book is filled with hand-drawn graphic-novel type stories. And the book originated in my sketchbook. So it seemed a no-brainer to keep the cover art “organic” looking. Here are both the front and back covers:
Cover art for the back of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”
Cover art for the front of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”
Yes, I did see this new print version as an opportunity to hand-write the entire book and considered it strongly. However from the outset of this project when we did the first printed editions small run, Dr. Bob Hoke wanted the book to be as easily accessible as possible – including constructing a book that would feel “simple” and even fun.
So as I designed this new print version I decided that typing the text of Dr. Bob’s lecture notes, rather than hand writing it would be more in keeping with Dr. Hoke’s methods. By typing I could also choose fonts and formats that would be easier for anyone, including dyslexics, to read. “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” is also small in size; 5.5 x 8.5 inches and only 56 pages long.
As I mentioned above, half the book is drawings… so I worked to make the cover art fit with the cartoon drawings inside the book.
“Feelings are guides not gods” is a phrase from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”, the new print version I’m currently working on. The concept is illustrated by this story:
Here’s some text from the book related to the artwork: “Do you think that feelings keep you from doing things? More good news – they don’t! We’ve all done many things we didn’t feel like doing – such as going to school or work when we didn’t feel like it – which proves that: Feelings don’t keep us from doing things. Moreover, when you do that thing you feel scared to do, you are nourishing your courage…… Remember, you are responsible for your feelings not responsible to them.” (see the Eggplant story above)
Cultivating and maintaining a high level of Emotional Intelligence is essential to well-being (and creativity). Good mental health is about more than just the absence of mental illness – it is the presence of good coping skills, being able to self-regulate, to see feelings as a guide whether the feelings are your own or someone else’s. (Btw: there’s a good article about teaching Emotional Intelligence here.)
I’ve found Dr. Bob’s concept of “feelings are guides not gods” applies to creativity, and the creative life, as well. Whether or not I feel a particular way doesn’t have to affect whether or not I make my artwork. My feelings are not a “god” to be obeyed. If it’s time to work in the studio, however short or long the time-to-work I’ve allotted is, off I go to my creative work no matter how happy, sad or inspired I feel at the moment.
Where I use my feelings as a “guide” is when I’m out in the world on the lookout for possible art-topics. I keep my inner eye open for things that capture my curiosity and my imagination. Then I keep a list of those things and my feelings related to them in my sketchbooks for future art-making. My use of this “feelings as guide” technique has helped me create many helpful guidebooks, so to speak, for my own creative life. I find it a sustainable creative practice.
All that aside I’d like to add that eggplant can, once in a while, be a very good vegetable – especially as eggplant parmesan.