Saturday, January 14, 2006

Welcome to my book: A story of "The Cadmium Yellow Balloon"

The criteria for this project was that we each had to come up with a theme for a book that related to the main theme "journeys" and that could be added onto by each member of the project. I thought that it would be fun to create an adventure in collaborative storytelling. A story that has no pre-determined ending... a story that changes direction each month as each artist adds his or her own personal twist.

I knew right away that I wanted there to be one visual element that was consistent throughout the book. An element that could appear in each entry, in some way shape or form. To do this properly, the element had to be kept to a minimum. Something that could easily be drawn by everyone. A person or animal would not work, simply for the fact that I did not want to put pressure on the other artists to have this character look consistent throughout the book. I wanted each artist to keep their own personal style for their part. So it had to be an inanimate object that was simple in design that could be recognizable in any style or medium.

This inanimate object that was forming in my mind needed to be something that could travel. That could have an adventure. One thought led to another and the idea of a balloon came to mind. What if there was this balloon, with a message inside, that journeyed across the earth? Where would it travel? Would it have a mission? A purpose? Would it travel high above the Cascades? Would it float inside of a building? Would it fall down into Central Park and be pecked at by the pigeons? What would it endure? And in the end... how does the balloon finally break? What does the message inside read? Each artist will add onto the story, telling us where the balloon ventured. The final page spread of the book will reveal where the balloon ultimately ends up, and if it is broken, what the message says.

I realize that my book is more light-hearted than some other themes. It is also different in that it is the only one that really tells one story with each entry building on the last. But while this is one continuous story with the same main subject, I want it to reveal each artist's own personal life story. A balloon can be fragile, just like people. A balloon floating in the sky can easily change its path, just like our own lives. One minute you are simply floating along, and suddenly stormy weather can disrupt your life. Or the winds change and you find yourself in a whole new direction. Life is uncertain. Just like the trip of a balloon. Make the balloon your own. Draw from your own personal experience. Maybe it is as simple as seeing a place you've never seen (or want to see again), or doing something you've always wanted to do (or have done). Let the balloon show us that. Or maybe it is something deeper, something more.

The concept of The Cadmium Yellow Balloon is based on a real life experience I had as a child. One sunny day half way through elementary school, my classmates and I had an assignment where we all wrote down messages onto tiny pieces of paper. We did not share our messages with anybody else; they were our own personal words. After writing out our words, we placed them inside of balloons, inflated them and walked outside to let them go all at once. It was an interesting feeling to let my thoughts go. To let them float away from me. I remember staring up at the sky that day, filled with big fluffy cumulus clouds and wondering where my balloon went. How far did it travel? What did it pass by on its journey? When did it pop? Where did my message fall? Did anyone find it and read it? I wished that I could follow my balloon that day. To hold onto to the string and float high above the houses and across the town. And then to one day, when I was all grown up, to recall this magical experience and write a book about my journey that day.


Blogger carla said...

This is such a brilliant idea...I can't wait for your book to "float" my way. I like that you've created this unifying element with the idea of creating a sort of exquisite corpse narrative. Fun:> Is this your cover? I think it would be cool if we all posted our covers before sending the books along to the next person.

- carla

10:14 AM  
Blogger Beth Berst said...

I did start my covers, but no this is not from it. :)

So far I started the under layers on both the front and back covers and intend to silkscreen my lettering on top.

When I get to that part (I still need to make the transparencies and prep the screens with photo emulsion), I'll be sure to post the results!

On a side note, I'm the opposite of you lately. My dreams have been so intense and detailed that I wake up with splitting headaches. So your topic is a very interesting one to me, and can't wait until that book comes to me. :)

10:21 AM  
Blogger carla said...

Oh...I'm not doing the dream book. I think that's Sylvia's topic. My topic is discovery, and i am hoping it will give me an opportunity to discover new techniques and new creative approaches. I'm still mulling over cover designs, but I think by tomorrow I will at least start putting in the background layers. I am going in the direction of doing a polymer transfer for the main design elements. I'm also trying to figure out how I want to incorporate my title and the letter. We'll see... It'll be exciting to see how they all turn out.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Beth Berst said...

I am so sorry Carla. When I was reading everyone's topics I was tired and thought it was you. Maybe because your work is always so "dreamy", I just assumed you'd be doing it about dreams. ;)

Polymer transfer sounds fun! I tried a few acrylic gel medium transfers before that I really liked. I photocopied my drawing and then brushed gloss medium directly on top of the photocopy. After i built up a few layers to the desired thickness, I let it dry. Then soaked it with some water to rub away the paper. What is left is a piece of gel medium, that is like a flexible plastic, with my image embedded into it. Then you can adhere it to a canvas, board, whatever and sort of "glue" it down with more medium and paint on or around it. I might have to incorporate this technique into one of the books...

Happy Polymer Transferring!

10:37 AM  
Blogger carla said...

No worries, Beth :> I read through all the descriptions and found myself somewhat overwhlemed (in a good way) with the passion each artist displayed in his or her topic description...and I didn't really focus on making the exact connections either. As far as dreams go...I have very vivid dreams and sometimes the vibe stays with me all day. I've even been upset with my BF because he did something I wasn't happy about - in a dream! He has to remind me that he's not that kind of dream guy:>

The gel transfer is exactly what I'm talking about! The gel medium used for acrylics is a polymer, so the terms are interchangeable. It seems like such a cool technique, and I love mixing media - probably because I never feel like I get exactly what I want from just one medium.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Leezy said...

This is so great to see conversations build and expand like this - way cool .... I am so jazzed right now .... I love you guys - all of you - for joining in on this - hurrah!

8:42 PM  

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