Friday, 25 May 2012

Book Girl

The urge to paint has been flickering and growing inside me over the last few weeks. So, this week, I got to it!

I wanted to try something new and different. I love to read, and I love the idea of repurposing old books and making them into art. 

So, here's how I created my painting. I am crap at remembering to take pics at the appropriate points, so I hope you get the idea anyway!

I started by finding an old book. It mattered to me that it was a book I felt something for. I found an old copy of 'The Rose' under my house that was without a cover, and so well loved it was falling apart. Perfect! The Rose was one of my favourite films when I was younger- starring Bette Midler, based on the life of Janis Joplin- how much more could I love it?? Well, it may be responsible for the lame-o rose tattoo I have on my chest... Oh, the humanity! Yes, I am a walking advertisement for why 17 year olds SHOULD NOT be allowed to get tattoos... unless they pick something NOT lame. I knew a girl with the Guns and Roses logo on her torso, so I guess things could be worse.
 OK, so I glued the pages onto a 24 x 20" canvas. I love the aged quality of the paper. My sisters and  I used to spend ages with coffee and matches* trying to get this effect on our treasure maps... We did a lot of treasure hunts and put waaaaayyy to much effort into them! 
*Ahh.. the late seventies/ early eighties. When kids could play with matches, and then toodle off to the corner shop to buy their Nanna her Blue Ardath ciggies, and no-one would bat an eyelid. Good times.

 Next, I needed to decide what I was going to paint onto my gorgeous book page canvas. A blank Canvas is a lot of pressure, and so is a beautifully prepared book page canvas!! I didn;t want to screw it up! I chose to use a digital drawing I did ages ago. I printed her out, stuck her together and traced her onto the canvas... Very LOW TECH! Ordinarily, I would trace the image onto a transperancy and then use my projector, but it's under the house and I am lazy. Whatevs.
So then, It was time to paint. And what better time than during the State of Origin?? 
I did look up every now and then to shout, "Go yourself, MAL!!" Just for my dad. He used to shout that at the TV ALL THE TIME. I used to think 'Mal' meant 'mate' and he was cheering on all different players. But it meant Mal Meninga... so it doesn't really make sense when he is not playing... But I think it's funny and my dad is in the UK and missed the game the other night. Although, he does have jedi-like football finding skill, so he probably tracked down a TV playing it. In Ireland.
Painting for me can be extremely therapeutic and cathartic. I have little rules that I paint by... Everything has 3 colours... You should always start and finish a line.... All work should have a little bit of red in it. These rules are comforting and automatic now... I also like it when I mess up and have to problem solve. How am I gonna fix this? Usually that leads to something waaaay better.
 This is an example of problem solving- I painted the text in white capitals... and it just didn't work for me. SO, I left it overnight and came back to it. This is so important in painting, I think. I always leave a piece sitting where I will see it when I first come upstairs in the morning. 
Usually, things that are glaringly wrong will jump out at me at this point. The text was one. Her hairline was another- the fringe just didn't sit well. Too dark. So I cut up some more pages of The Rose and gave her a forehead. I think this opened her up heaps and works much better. I also used extra pages to create the new text style. Much better!

Next I just added a few little paper embellishments, so more shading and she is done.
 For me, she is kinda saying- "I am not going to live in books. I am going to be inspired by them to experience stories and awesomeness in my own life" Is that a bit naff? Who cares, I made her and that's what I see. But, as always, in art, there are any number of interpretations and perceptions. There is no wrong answer.
  So, I am imagining all sorts of projects involving book pages! And I am super chuffed with how this lady turned out. Not sure if I want to list her in my Etsy store, or keep her for our lounge room. 

What do u think?
Oh, and Anne, if you are reading this, yes, that is the copy of The Rose that you lent me in about 1992... sorry bout that! 


  1. OMG! I am in love with it! I wish I could paint like you do! You are very talented lovely lady. Very inspiring!
    P.S. I too have a tattoo from when I was 17. A little devil on my shoulder. I hate it & regret it completely! I have no idea what I was thinking, sigh.
    Jos xx

    1. Good to know I'm not alone Jos! I have considered getting mine removed and its soooo faded from being stretched to max capacity during my pregnancies, it'd probably zap right offa there!!

  2. Wow this is gorgeous with the history behind the book I think you should keep it for yourself or family. well done.

  3. As I was reading...I thought- oh, cool book!! Barrhaha... I remember that sooooo well! Most honored the rose has become the book girl...luv it!! And I say Rose Book Girl is a KEEPER!!!! Or would just be fab next to your 2 girls in my lounge... Haha! Xxx anne

    1. Hee hee.. you know I have never been good at returning things!!

  4. That is very creative Gillian, your Art work is always a pleasure to ogle at. Its even more impressive that you feel compelled to paint and this is what you come up with ;-)

  5. Thanks Sam! My girls are always ogle-worthy!!

  6. Thanks for sharing this Gillian. I love your problem solving with this piece and the final result is perfect.
    It's been about three years since I've picked up a brush or a pastel, I miss it. But I do find painting a rather emotional process for me......hard to explain to others.
    I have a big piece I was working on when I was pregnant with the twins before I lost them and I haven't had the courage to to finish it. I've painted once since then,mug it was far from stellar work.
    I love your creations in all their forms. Thanks again for sharing you may have given me inspiration to take a new approach with that unfinished canvas of mine.

  7. Gorgeous! And I love reading about your creative process

    1. Thanks Tonya. I like seeing how other people do stuff. Everyone has thier own techniques and ritauls for creating!

  8. Thanks for sharing that Trudie... Emotional connections with art pieces can be so tough, isn't it. I'm glad to inspire you and I hope you get that brush to canvas soon... just for you.

  9. Have you read "The Book"? It is about a world that is overtaken by the Kindle. I don't remember the author, but it was a Kindle freebie at one time. Your art made me think of it!

  10. I'm puzzled with lots of exercises. I was afraid I could not do the right time despite my hard work. I need a support person.


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