Last week I was honored to be part of an exhibition at the Bloomington Center for the Arts called: Beyond the Book: A Book Illustrator's Fine Art Exhibition. The illustrators Nancy Carlson and Stephen Gammell, in a conversation two years ago after Stephen had shown both his book illustrations and non-illustration paintings to a class Nancy was teaching, realized that a show of the work outside books by book illustrators might be a wonderful thing. And after much organizing on their parts and the gallery's, seven illustrators were chosen to show their "art beyond book illustration" and it was a wonderful thing!
Before making books, I was a painter/sculptor, so I was able to show some of the sculptures that continued early on in my book illustrating career~ inspired by my book, Scarecrow. But as illustrating books took up more and more of my studio time there has been very little time to saw, carve, and build with wood, thus the surface of clay panels seduced me and I began a series simply called: "Crow Paintings".
The Crow paintings have evolved over a period of ten years. They come from the deep places an artist can meander into and render in paint. Because books take me into the public and satisfy that part of me that loves to show my work, I am allowed to explore images like the "Crow Paintings" in the studio that do not necessarily need to be seen. I admit that I was reluctant to say yes to exhibiting at first, but the urging of a couple of artist friends convinced me to participate in the show.
I think the intention of the show was to blur the line between fine art and illustration, but for me as an artist, my approach to illustrating a book is very different from the intimate conversation between painted surface and myself in the studio. When illustrating a book, I am very aware of the collaborative effort of myself, author, editor, and publisher. With my paintings beyond the book, it is the quiet that dwells deep inside that is expressed like a poem.
There will be a panel discussion at the gallery in a few weeks. I am looking forward to the conversation on art in and out of the book!