Altered Books


I managed to take some pictures of the kids’ work near the end of my “Altered Book Anthologies” class–some of the kids really put a lot of creative effort into creating their books. It was definitely a challenge to get all of the kids on board, but after the first week, I’d say over 90% of them were invested in creating art and writing creatively. It was hard to work with little kids (4th grade-8th grade) and inspire them to be creative in a non-judgmental arena. They aren’t used to that sort of environment, and some of them took suggestions as criticism. But that’s what you get when you are working with gifted kids who feel the need to be “perfect” or have other learning issues. I do feel that they learned to trust me, and in turn, trust their own creative eyes.

While I thought it was much harder than my high school English teaching  job, I think that it was an important learning experience for me. I taught an art class! I got the kids to investigate nature and write about it. VERY COOL. Sometimes the most rewarding journeys are the most difficult and painful–and yes, I complained a ton about working because  I was uncomfortable doing it. But I proved to myself that I can do it, and that is what it’s about.

One girl, Emma, came up to me on the last day and told me that I was “her favorite teacher” and Altered Book Anthologies was “her favorite class.” She gave me a hug, and at that moment, it was all worth it. She also made my favorite book of the whole program–it was as if she was able to totally manifest what I wanted the class to be able to do–draw, paint, write, and create complementary art/ writing entries. She totally nailed it, and I was so proud of her.

So here are some photos from the kids’ anthologies…

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There is something about cutting paper that is so relaxing. I could spend a huge chunk of time just sitting and cutting out paper detailing for collage work. It’s so funny how I’ve moved into a visual art/ more tactile artistic direction than my writing, which I never expected. It’s just that I’m really enjoying the immediate sense of creating something without worrying about a lot of rules. Working with the altered books I started is so freeing and it’s helping me see things differently around me, like dragonflies and tiny shards of rocks, and my toddler’s bright smile. I get so mired down in the day-to-day @ my teaching job that I forget how to live an artistic, creative life. And that’s what I really want–an “artful” life, oh–and a house at the beach. I want to live there all summer. That’s my total dream–just living near the water, wandering around in the sun, and making art all summer with my family. That would be total and complete sanity and happiness for me. Until then, I want to keep up this momentum & stop putting my art and writing aside. My husband is inspiring me with his blogging–http://elvisdo.wordpress.com  He’s an amazing artist but he’s embracing the writer part of himself. I want to work with that and embrace myself as a “mixed-media” artist. Who cares if I can’t draw? LOL. My new goals are to learn how to sew, and to learn better Photoshop skills. I am itching to make digital collage, too.

So here are some pics of my book(s) in progress…the splatter page was painted by a student of mine in the art/ writing class I finished teaching last week.

...tempura and acrylic paints.

Fiddling with acrylics and festive images.

I put a little folklore rhyme about gypsies in there...

So I took a random summer job this year, teaching altered book arts to campers in 4th-8th grade. I say random because I never expected to be teaching little kids (I work with high school students) or working for a Gifted and Talented camp. Yet I have full control over my class, and it’s only for three weeks, which is nice. I’ll have three weeks before the summer ends and I have to re-enter the doldrums of public school education.

Since I’ve started working with the campers, I’m designing two altered books of my own–kind of in tandem with the kids. I have this really strong impetus to keep working, to write, to collage. There is something so satisfying about cutting paper, mounting images, and fiddling with media. I am currently loving my acrylic paints, Sharpie pens, my bone folder, and oil pastels.

I now need to learn how to photograph my work so that it’s not so blurry and crazy. I should perhaps read the manual that came with my camera, so that I can try more manual settings rather than the auto settings. It would also help if my hands didn’t shake so much.

Here are a few images of my early work from this summer. I will photograph the rest as I go. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a decent scanner/ printer so that I can scan in my work instead of taking shat photographs of it.