How To: Tree Painting over my book pages

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I have had a lot of people ask how I created this piece of art that sits on my mantle.

It’s simple really… Take four years, write a book, and then when you wonder if the words you wrote are any good, shred up the pages and turn them into an art project!

If you don’t have the patience to write a book, I guess you could use sheet music, pages from an old book, or I always thought old maps would be cool.

FIRST:

I found this huge ugly IKEA canvas on sale for maybe two dollars. There was no way I was going to pass it up. You could use anything, really. Be creative! Maybe that old coffee table needs a new face lift. Maybe that sheet of plywood kicking around the garage is the perfect size. Or you could just go to an art supply store and buy a blank canvas.

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SECOND:

Gesso. You can really build up the textures and cover up a multitude of sins. Or do a smooth finish by not adding gesso. It depends on how you want the paper to sit on the canvas. I think it might be easier to do a somewhat smooth finish. But texture is my friend and so I really caked it on. Besides, at this point, I thought I was just going to paint a painting on top. I didn’t know at the time that I was going to cover it up with my un-edited book pages.

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* Here’s a little side note… For a couple years, I used the white canvas during the autumn in my decor. I was marinating what I wanted to do with the blank slate. Sometimes, that is the most intimidating. I am often like that in my writing, too. I’ll stare and stare at an empty scene and then all of a sudden it floods into me. That is how this painting was birthed… I stared and stared at my galley proofs and un-edited book pages that beta readers gave back to me, and I thought I should probably shred them. Then it came to me to turn them into art.

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THIRD:

I took some of my favorite scenes and pages that weren’t covered in red ink — there weren’t many 🙂 — and I soaked them in coffee and tea grounds for a day. Once the pages were dry, I flattened them with heavy books. I also tore the edges so there wasn’t a flat edge. I wanted them to look old.

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FOURTH:

Lay out your pages, then Mod-podge or glue them onto the gessoed canvas. Flatten out the pages gently with a your finger or a roller. The pages are wet and tear easily, so be careful.

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FIFTH:

I mixed RIT dye with Mod-Podge. You could also use the blue or green or red dye. Use your imagination. I wanted to make the pages look even more antiqued than what the coffee grounds did, so I used the taupe color. With a large brush, paint the mixture onto the book pages. Again, the pages are wet and very fragile.

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SIXTH:

Once dry, I painted more gesso on top of the dry pages into the shape of a tree. I wanted my tree to be very textured, so I built up knobs, bark, branches, and roots. Then I painted on top of the gesso with white acrylic paint mixed with linseed oil medium. You don’t have to mix with a medium, I just wanted the paint to be more shiny. Gesso is flat, but maybe you like that look, so just skip the acrylic paint step. Or go crazy and paint the tree your favorite color, or black, or brown. I might even add in a bit of silver or gold highlights on the branches. Have fun!

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* Here are a couple details. I made sure some of my favorite passages and poetry would be in a spot where if one were to look closely, they could read the words because they wouldn’t be covered up by the tree. You can see how textured this is. You will have to really work at it to get the pages smooth. I just didn’t care (or was too lazy!)

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So there you have it. Pretty easy. It’s fun to mesh two different hobbies/obsessions together.

Art and writing.

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My mind spun and I started to do all sorts of paintings on single book pages. I went to the art store and got cheap mat board scraps. I glued the pages on with mat board adhesive. Then I painted on a clear gesso on top of the book page. Then I just painted my image with acrylic paint. I’ve noticed that these started to make the mat board curl. Maybe a masonite board would be better. Or you can just put the painting in a frame with glass and that will flatten it up.

I gave these and other gifts away during my book launch for Broken Smiles. I sent them all over the country. It was fun to receive notes and personal thank you’s. Oh, and I did ask my publisher if that was all right. Another reason why I like my publisher.

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For the preparation below, I added watered down blue acrylic paint to gesso and then painted it onto my prepared book page and mat board. Now, I need to stare at it a while and see what speaks to me.

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I went even more crazy and made a whole bunch of these Bird Christmas tree ornaments out of sheet music. Notice how it matches my book cover. I gave these away during my Christmas novella book launch.

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Doing art projects like these breaks up the monotony of writing. They are so much fun and fairly easy.

I love to hear from you. Have you ever combined your hobbies? You are welcome to ask questions in the comment section and I will answer.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tara

Featured Books Friday!

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Here we are again for Featured Books Friday! I was at the fabulous Storymakers conference last weekend, so I will try to get some of the attendees to post here. 🙂 I love reading through the book blurbs in the comment section. I encourage you to do the same and support these talented authors. You can also scroll through old posts for even more amazing books and authors.

Below, in the comments, you are welcome to add your name, title, and genre – along with a 500 word scene or blurb. (Please no erotica or extreme violence) I will blast and share away.

Thanks for playing!!

Here’s mine from my novel “Broken Smiles” (Women’s contemporary romance.)

LINK:  BROKEN SMILES     image

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She sang and strummed, and for a moment the smell of disinfectant and the stark walls faded away. When it was close to lunchtime, she stopped for the day, but Laidan promised she would sing again the next morning. When the room and hallway finally cleared, she stood and closed the door. With more reverence, she sang her mother’s favorite song that she had written a few years earlier.

Release these feet from concrete and heat

Run barefoot in fields of golden wheat

Feel the forest floor sink between toes

Discover caves where nobody knows

So kick off the shoes that weigh you down

Find a place where no one’s around

Eileen lay still in her deep sleep, unmoved, unchanged. Laidan set down her guitar and went to the attached bathroom. Her hands gripped the sides of the vanity as she braced herself. It had been so hard when she’d lost her father — she couldn’t go through it again.

Happy reading!

Tara

Pale Ghosts – The Evolution of Ideas

Every night, a pale owl perches, standing guard outside my window. It is magnificent and white. I took a walk with my sons, counting long poop stains on my neighbors roofs (great quest for young boys!) We counted 11 homes.

So, if you are my close neighbor, chances are you are being watched over while you slumber. I can’t go to sleep until I look for it now. The owl and I are both creatures of the night. Most writers are.

Naturally, I took to research to find out what kind of owl peers through my windows. My conclusion is that it’s a barn owl, sometimes called a ghost owl. I listened to its call online and the snapping noise was identical. I was sad to read that they only live for 1-2 years in the wild.

Read further to see how my every day ideas develop into words on the page:

1- Connection: This ghost owl reminded me of a ghost raven I wanted to write into one of my works in progress. I’ve mentioned many times before how I LOVE research. When I say research, I don’t mean Wikipedia or listening to boring old professors. I’m talking about delving deep into the cavernous origins that make you question your sanity and everything you hold to be true. I think I like doing research as much as I like to write. It’s hard to decide what to use and what to keep.

Here is a side-note about a writing program called Scrivener. If you are a serious writer, you MUST learn how to use this program. While I am writing my novels, I can link research, notes, and thoughts in a little side bar as my book develops. Before Scrivener, in Word, I used to have two separate documents. One being my novel in progress, and one for all the research, quotes, and findings.

Also, whenever I need to delve even more deep, I schedule a lunch date with my older brother. I don’t know anyone who knows more about the bazaar than him. This says a lot because I have gone to so, so many conferences and many of them being about fantasy and the unusual. I don’t know where he finds half his stuff. Here is a link to his blog ARTDUH.COM. So, I suggest you find someone who is half crazy to bounce ideas off of. 🙂

2- Morph connections into my own creation and history: Back to the pale raven from my novel… Here is a brief example of how I take mythology, legend, and folklore and morph it into my own creation of history. Below you will follow my brain trail and see how I filter and process information and then make it my own.

The Norse God Odin had two ravens. Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory).

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Both ravens flew around the earth and reported what they saw to Odin every night. Make connections… Have we seen this else where, when birds report with information? Hmm… How about Noah and the dove, or even Maleficent and her raven. (hello, my article on resonance) I’ve had a curiosity about ravens from my first reading of Edgar Allen Poe decades ago. I love his writing and have his collections on my bed stand.

3- My mind spins further and I research everything I can find about ravens and how smart they are and their origin stories in most every culture and ancient civilization. Then I find a story that sticks and I ask the question “What if?” — Here is where an author steals. Here is where I make it my own by asking questions. — What If… all the ebony feathers of my character’s pet raven were plucked out, save but one? What If… that scrawny bird and my main character were banished? Upon near death, what if a medicine man, much like my findings in Indian folklore, were to resurrect the bird and it became a pale ghost raven? And that single black lingering feather, was the only tie it had to mortality and loyalty to my character.

4- So then I think of my setting and characters, and think “how can I use this in my book?” How can I morph my findings and ideas into my novel and make it believable? Well, give it life. Give it history. Give it backstory. Ground them into your setting. See things through their eyes. Give them an action that shows their personality. Do I want to make my raven playful by ruffling up my characters hair with its beak? Or do I want to make it sinister by plucking out someone’s eye? Your characters will speak to you, even if it is an animal or bird. Listen to them. Don’t fight who they are.

5- Finally, write. When all the pieces have fit together and I have an idea of where I want the story to go, I do a loose outline. This is when I open my other document or sidebar in Scrivener and jot down all my ideas because they come as fast as a freight train. The scenes and characters open up and it is so fun to see how the story and your brain trail evolves before your eyes.

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*** To think… all of this started because of a white owl who spies on me as I sleep. This is what I was talking about in my post Hidden Gems. Ideas are everywhere. Sometimes you just have to open your window and mind to see. I am happy that the ghost owl chose to move in next door to me and bless me with its graceful short-lived presence.

Thanks for stopping by! I love your comments. Have you ever followed your brain trail? Do you have a different method that works for you?

Tara