Happy birthday, blog!

blogiversary!

Allegraphy is 1 year old today!

In my very first post I listed a few things I wanted to accomplish in 2012, and mostly didn’t.  So much for my follow-through (see flibbertigibbet)…

This year, instead of listing things I want to accomplish, I thought I’d try to list things that are less finite:

Goal #1Be healthy.  Make healthy food and lifestyle choices.  Eliminate soda, hfcs, milk products (mostly), and meat.  And, if I fall off the wagon, the world won’t end; just adjust and re-focus.

Goal #2Be creative.  Write, paint, draw, play piano…etc.  Do something each day even if it is small and most definitely if it is silly.

Goal #3Tune out.  Computers and phones and tvs can be turned off without panic; none of it is that important.  Read, knit, stare out the window…

Goal #4Dig in the dirt.  The garden plans are already underway.  Plus, it will aid all previous goals.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Notes

1.  First book on the agendaTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

2.  Coke.  It is almost 1:30 and I will happily pinch anyone.  Tea is not going to make this withdrawl easier…

I love the smell of new art stuff in the morning!

My new stuff from Dick Blick showed up yesterday afternoon!  Yay, art mess…

Stuff:

  • Strathmore 300 series mixed media notebook
  • Golden matte medium
  • Lyra kneaded eraser (with container)
  • Magnifying ruler
  • A set of paint brushes

Unfortunately, my magnifying ruler had a hairline crack down the magnifying part.  😦  But, as the company is quite awesome, I just had to pick up the phone and explain what happened.  My new ruler will be in the mail on Monday!

I think I am going to break in my new notebook so it doesn’t feel so lonely.  If I leave it sitting blank it will just distract me.  Make a mess of the first page now so it doesn’t seem so perfect with its pristine emptiness!  After that, I will make a map for my Nanowrimo novel as I want a visual reminder for where everyone is located…so I don’t forget!

Sheep pointillism

Ok.  Normally my friends send me stupid stuff over email, but this one is quite creative.  These sheep farmers have had a few too many nights in a pub planning all this, but darn if the results weren’t awesome.

I can’t imagine how many days it took to get this all put together!

Here’s the video for sheeplight.

Cover me…

Yesterday over at The Broke and the Bookish, there was a post on bookcovers that disappoint a reader for one reason or another.  Daisy made a point that we do judge books by their covers–and I am no exception.  I began to think about what I like and do not like to see in a book cover…

Simple and understated is best I don’t like a lot of “busy” in my book covers.  I like one thing to focus on.  A plain cover with an image and a title is totally fine…and really does what I want it to:  announce the book.  On this book, instead of a small image negotiated above or under the title like it is here, the image is the entire background.  This lets a reader zoom in to the image and focus on the title at the same time.

Paintings Many classics have art displayed on their covers instead of some over-the-top kind of mess.  Perhaps this is to lend an “antique” feel to the age of the text?  Whatever it is, I think it is most often quite elegant and makes for a beautiful book cover.  In modern covers I see photographs trying to imitate the feel of a painting, but they often miss what can be found in the oils…patience and a certain essence.  Photography captures a thing as it is in the moment, but a painting feels more intimate–even if it is just an impression of the thing.

Quirky Sometimes I can appreciate a cover for its ability not to take life so seriously.  This doesn’t have a particular medium of expression, but it can make me smile.  Most often quirky covers are attached to books that are a bit tongue-in-cheek or humorous.  The Nursery Crimes novels of Jasper Fforde come to mind–actually all of the Fforde novels spring to mind….

The picturesque.  I’ll even handle a landscape or two if the feel of the picture roughly applies to the book.  I like broad vistas and rolling hills and city skylines–they are worth considering.  But I don’t want a picture of a placid river if I’m stuck (in the novel) in a city and never spend any time at a river!  So if you are a cover artist, I hope you pay attention to the book (or at least pray that the summary provided to you is a true reflection of the content).

The nothing.  Occasionally, I like a simple cover of nothing or almost nothing.  It really depends on how the cover designer sizes everything and provides contrast.  For example, this Mary Roach book is quite lovely.  One might argue that this is also an image and can be classified in the first group, and maybe that is so.  But this particular “nothing” is fine.  I also classify books like this Lady Chatterley’s Lover cover in the same category–but, to be fair, I hate that much orange on any book.

Announce thyself These kinds of cover designs annoy me.  It screams, “I am NEEDY.  Pay attention to me.  I am the best.  Ever.”  The whole look of the book just makes me run the other way.  Do you really need to take up three quarters of your cover space with your name and title?  Did the cover artist go awol and this was the best someone could slap together?  Or did someone just not want to pay for a jacket cover?  Or maybe the reading public is blind and needs to be advertised to like this is a monster-truck rally?  Why not just tag a small button on the front to play an MP3 ad that says “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!  The book is here.  Buy it now!”

Operatic staging Grrr.  I know this appears quite often in fantasy literature and, dear God, someone make it stop!  I always feel like these people are about to burst into song like it is a still from some overblown opera production.  Seriously look at that picture and tell me you don’t hear this type of song in your head.  It is too much.  Now, while I may absolutely love the novels inside these dreadful covers you better believe that I heard about the book from someone who was willing to give the novel a chance after glancing at the cover–because I surely would NOT pick up the book myself without a recommendation (or trusting the author’s work).

So, am I a bit judgy?  Absolutely.  Does that make me a dreadful book consumer?  Probably.  Is everyone going to be able to please me all of the time?  Nope.

 

**Please note that this discussion of covers has no bearing on the content of these books.**

Go make a mess!

Ok.  I found SuziBluTube a while ago when looking for something fun and creative to do.  So let me share…

You can find her YouTube videos here.

I love acrylics and mixed media and ink.  I’m not so hot on the smudgy stuff:  pastels, graphite, charcoal.  The smudgy stuff makes me hate it for the same reasons I hate foundation makeup–it clings to my skin with a terrible film.  And, yes, all the things I love make messes just as well as the dusty stuff…

Mess is important.  Mess is a sign of wildness and passion.  Mess is art.

I have yet to meet a rigidly mess-free artist.  Any art space is filled with clutter–even if that clutter is put away after the project is finished–the doing of art is not neat.

Go find something that inspires you to make a mess today.  Heck, grab a piece of paper out of the printer and make flowers with the stack of pens and highlighters in the cup on the desk.  Make little hand turkeys like you did in kindergarten.  Get some plaster and cast your footprints.  Bend a bunch of paperclips into a sculpture and dress it in sticky notes.

Have fun!

Break Hodgepodge

I took a small break–only two days.  Sometimes I need to reconnect with things that make me happy!

1.  Korean TV.  A year or so ago I stumbled across a few Korean shows on Hulu and since then I enjoy watching them–subtitles and all.  I particularly enjoy the romantic comedies.  Why do I like them?  They allow themselves to be silly.  These shows only last for a set number of episodes (usually 16 or 20); the story arc moves from A to Z in that time and there are NO cliff-hangers or “wait until next season” kinds of endings.  I’m guessing this kind of format appeals to my short attention span!  Currently I am sucked into Secret Agent Miss Oh.

2.  Calligraphy and Illuminated Manuscripts.  I look at illuminated manuscripts all the time because I find them intensely fascinating as pieces of art.  I bought a set of fountain pen nibs a few years ago and have been playing with them to write in my journal.  I also have quite a lovely black and white blown glass dip pen.  But I have been wanting to try my hand at actual calligraphy.  So, yesterday I picked up a Speedball #5 Artist set (nibs C0, C2, C4, B1, B3, B5, 102, 56, and 513EF) and some Higgins ink.  Wish me luck!

***dramatic pause for the knock at the front door***

OOH!  My books from Amazon arrived today!  Now I have my very own copy of Clarissa (and therefore have no excuse for failure to read it).  I also have a copy of Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Other Plays by John Ford from Oxford UP.

Ok.  I lost my train of thought since I was so pleasantly interrupted to take delivery of my book goodies…

To make up for it, I thought I would leave you with a kickass performance by Juliet Simms on The Voice.  She is everything that has been missing in rock music for a damned long time…!

I cannot draw

Yet sketchbooks appeal to me.  My sketchbooks will never win any praise or look “cool.”  I’m ok with that.

I doodle around in sketchbooks because it is FUN!

It doesn’t matter if you are using the holy Moleskine or just an 80¢ college ruled spiral notebook.  All that matters is that you want to play with paint or pencils or markers or glue or scissors or whatever…

The Sketchbook Project is an art project that anyone can participate in.  A selection of themes will be offered at sign up; fill the sketchbook as you please.  You can choose to have it digitized before it tours the country on display.  The next round of sign ups begins in April.

Doodlers Anonymous is a fun outlet for inspiration and creativity.

Urban Sketchers is also an amazing blog to see artist sketches from all over the world.

Does drawing help me hone the craft of writing?  Not in a way that is writing-related.  But it does help me work through brain-knots–places where the writing is stuck–by making me consider an image or an action in a new way.

Consider a scene where several major/minor players are interacting at one time.  A drawing can help choreagraph everything; each character can be stationed to fulfill his or her purpose in that setting.  I get two benefits from this:  1) spotting faulty staging in the text (a character is next to the punchbowl when she needs to be next to the door for her dramatic exit); and 2) opening new possibilities in the storyline (maybe I didn’t know that character A and character J secretly knew each other when A is married to C and J is C’s psychologist).  Yep.  Visual plotting is awesome.

So while my sketchbooks aren’t filled with DaVinci awesomeness, they are helping plot my takeover of imaginary worlds…

Image and writing

Shilo Shiv Suleman on her interactive book.

What I wish is that my book would illustrate itself (as I compose the text) with interesting drawings!  I have a deep fascination for layered images and shapes and shadows (see artwork of Kara Walker).  But, since I know this wish will most likely never come true, I have to trudge on through.

I have tried sketching characters before.  However, my lack of arty awesomeness creates doodle-y stick figures that couldn’t earn prime refrigerator space let alone inspire my writing.  [Seriously, xkcd has more artistic realism!]

Instead, I Google.  If I am looking for a picture to fit my description of a character, I can find it.  If I want to get an idea for a particular place, see me go nuts with keywords.  If I need to talk about a specific thing–like a type of fish–the visual can help me get on with it.  I keep these images in a Microsoft OneNote file for each project.  I can keep track of characters and places.  I can develop unique cultures by blending ideas from each image.  Basically, it’s eye candy…kind of like Pinterest, but more focused toward building my writing.

What keeps the writing images in your head?