Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review:Art at the Speed of Life

As I have mentioned earlier, I have been reading Art at the Speed of Life by Pam Carriker. The tag line of the book is "motivation+ inspiration for making mixed-media art every day." While I enjoyed viewing the book, there were a few minor criticisms that I wanted to share with you.

One of my biggest pet peeves with DIY books is that they don't give you enough information to complete a project. A second pet peeve is when they give you step by step instructions on how to replicate the exact project that is in the book. I would rather they provide me/show me detailed instructions on how to use the technique so I can create a project on my own.

The first problem above is inexcusable. Leaving out simple details becomes disastrous and, often times, discouraging. For example, on pages 24 and 25, the author illustrates how to make a "ten minute journal" which will be the basis of some of the projects presented in the book. The author provides the reader with a materials list including "one sheet of watercolor paper, 22 in by 30 in." Basically it is a pamphlet booklet which is no problem. The problem is that the author does not list a paper weight with which to start.

Here was my first attempt. After folding the page as instructed, there was no way that I would be able to use my bone folder to rip the folded pages to create the signatures. Even if I wet the pages (as instructed), I don't think that the booklet would be able to close. I used 140lb Arches cold pressed watercolor paper (definitely too heavy of a paper).

Clearly frustrated, I went to the other extreme and used a 70lb text weight page so I could see if the structure would work. The author tells you to rip the folded pages with your bone folder to make a deckled edge. The biggest problem here is that not all of your pages will be deckled unless you start with a deckled edge paper at the beginning (which most watercolor paper isn't). Granted, most people wouldn't mind but the point of having a deckled edge is for aesthetic purposes--so why would someone want some pages deckled and some not.

Of course, the problem here is that the paper would not hold up to many wet medium and the pages would need a card stock cover to add some heft to the project.

The biggest strength of the book is the motivational factor that the author provides to those busy people who want to create art in a limited time frame. The invited essays from real mixed media artists provide motivation on making art, making art while busy, making art on a budget and the challenges/pitfalls/traps new artists encounter. If the author had simply made a collection of these types of essays then the book would have been much more informative to me.

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