November 4, 2014

For years I have used the book format to teach everything I know about text art and calligraphy. Books, I have always told my students, bring you right to the heart of the matter, allowing every form of writing (including the most personal journal work), drawing, painting and just about anything else to be brought together between two covers. But how many of you have actually seen one of my books? In the last few years, I have made only one or two. The truth is, I did not practice what I preached, but have concentrated for a number of years on large collages, canvas, sculpture and media.

Now, thanks to an invitation from the Triennial of Artists Books in Vilnius, I have returned to my first love: the manuscript. But now with the stories of a lifetime to tell. What a mind-blowing experience! Suddenly everything in my sketchbooks finds a place on the page. The words come right from the heart (“nobody said it was easy”) and find a match in a drawing made at some other time and in some other place in my life. You know the feeling: you wake up and want to get right back to work. The oilfields are producing again!

I will post a few pages of the book, called “Errors”, in the next few weeks. It is probably best to avoid explaining the work, but I will say a thing or two about how they came about, including some technical issues. Having a big studio filled with all sorts of incompatible materials is an important part of the process. India ink confronts house paint, Chinese collage techniques are applied to three meter long sheets of kozo paper, drawing, painting and all sorts of writing have to learn to get along in one work of art.

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