Monday, October 30, 2006

Reading Journal: The Romanov Prophecy

After the fall of communism, and weary with a succession of failed governments, the Russian people have voted to restore the monarchy. Miles Lord, an African-American lawyer, has been hired by a mysterious cabal to pave the way for Stefan Baklanov, a distant Romanov relative, to ascend the throne. When Lord discovers documents hinting at the survival of two of Tsar Nicholas's children, he finds himself marked for death and on the run. Aided by a circus performer, Akilina (the "Eagle"), Lord follows a series of clues as he attempts to unravel one of Rasputin's last prophecies, in which Lord himself plays a crucial role as "the Raven."

The background for this spread was one that I had painted ages ago, and just kept skipping over because it really didn't look right for any of the books that I wanted to review. Actually, I thought it was pretty drab until now. It never ceases to amaze me how just the right picture can improve a background. The onion domes of Red Square were from the travel section of the Sunday paper and I had saved them for years, not knowing what I would do with them. I just knew they were too pretty to throw away. What really made them work on this page was cutting away the background of the photo, so that my painted pages became the sky. It was a little tedious cutting around those tiny crosses but Fiskars micro-tip scissors were a huge help. I used matte medium to adhere the image, brushing it on a bit at the time. I've found that it's a mistake to apply any adhesive all over the back of a cut-out if it's from thin paper. The little parts will curl like mad and drive you insane. I position the image exactly where I want it on the spread, and while holding it in place with my left hand, I use a flat brush to apply the medium in one spot, smooth it down and continue adding medium until the whole thing is stuck in place. The beauty of matte medium is that it doesn't show like regular glue when any oozes out. And it brushes on more easily than glue.

I wrote the title in Gothicized Italic, using Schmincke black gouache and a Mitchell #1 nib. The author was written with a .8 Copic MultiLiner and the summary was done with a Uniball Vision micro pen.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Reading Journal: The Lighthouse by P.D. James

Combe Island off the Cornish coast has a blood-stained history of piracy, but now, privately owned, it offers respite to overstressed people in positions of high authority who require privacy and guaranteed security. But this peace is violated when one of the distinguished (but thoroughly unlikable) visitors is found hanging from the railing of the lighthouse. Suicide was briefly suspected but it soon becomes apparent that he was murdered.

Commander Adam Dalgliesh is called in to solve the mystery, but at a difficult time for him and his depleted team. While he is uncertain about his future with Emma Lavenham, Detective Inspector Kate Miskin has her own emotional problems, and Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith is worried about proving himself. As they try to unravel the complicated motives of the multiple suspects, there is a second very brutal killing; and the whole investigation is jeopardized when Dalgliesh contracts SARS from one of the suspects.

The background for this spread was painted with Anita's "Silver" mixed with a small amount of "Metallic Sapphire". I was afraid that it might be difficult to write on, but I had no trouble writing out the summary with a Uniball Vision Micro pen. Despite what shows in the picture, the writing is very black and crisp. The title/author was written with a medium size Pilot Permaball. This was a new pen that I was given by Sandy Odom when I went last month to Austin to teach a class on making backgrounds. It writes permanently on all surfaces, and is acid-free, waterproof, fadeproof and smear-proof. When I heard that, I figured it was the thing to try on this shiny metallic surface. It wrote easily and dried quickly. Nothing came up when I cautiously wiped my finger over it. If it only came in a smaller point, I would be in love!

You can barely see it here, but the crossbars of the "H"s and the "A" are colored in with various colors of RoseArt gel pens for a bit of pizazz.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sex Wars Revisited

This historical novel by Marge Piercy is set in the decades that followed the Civil War. It is a fascinating account of the women (Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Victoria Woodhull, & Lucretia Mott) who passionately fought for the right to vote, the right to own property and to manage their own money, and to have control over and understanding of their own bodies.

The spread for this book had never seemed quite complete, so I finally decided to do a little more work on it. The differences are subtle, but I do think they make it look better. I'm posting both the "before" and "after" together so you can more easily compare them. The blah background had always bothered me the most, so I added a little color to it by pulling a blue chalk inkpad across it in places and blending on to the women's pictures. Then I used the darker end of a "Platinum" Brushables marker to shadow the letters in the title, and finished by lightly defining the space between each letter and shadow with a black Pilot P-500 pen. As a calligrapher, I hand write most everything in my journals, but the letters for this title were done with rubber stamps.