My newest tale of dark Appalachian fey and the black paint beneath my fingernails are now so intermixed that I sometimes I cannot tell one from the other. Paint leeches from my written words to make shadows then reshapes, becoming characters and worlds, artistic forms that perhaps don’t represent the literal story but the characters’ and my own visions, dreams, and emotions as my written stories take place.
I create accompaniments to, not illustrations for my stories these days, and they are richer for it.
My tenth novel, Striking Balance, is set for release tomorrow, and to celebrate I allowed my two strongest creative aspects, my writing and mixed media art, to combine past the cover. How? I’ve created a one-of-a-kind mixed art book to accompany Striking Balance, and I’m sharing the contents, all thirty-six pieces one spread for each chapter in the novel, on my website.
This will be a journey combining the epigraph, a musical reference, and an art piece that ties to each chapter in the novel.
The mixed-media book’s pages are heavy with paint, paper, charcoal, pen, and watercolor until they no longer lie flat, and the leather cover has been reincarnated to carry an important symbol and the interior now holds three handstitched signatures. The book will no longer fully close due to the contents, and I’m now in search of the perfect tie to keep the pages safely together. (Yes, that is the actual mixed-media book at the top of the page,)
I find it to be a thing of beauty, and most mixed-media artist will tell you that overstuffed books and journals are where their creativity resides.
And then there are the piles of colorful scrap paper, bits of this and that, oohs and ahs I collect from magazines, mail, and ads that have accumulated around my art table while I was creating the book. Most of those have found their way into the Striking Balance Mixed-Media Journey as readily as my handmade background Gelli papers. You might not recognize those paper scraps when I’m finished manipulating them, and the background papers come out different every time I make them, but they too have found their way into the pages.
But what about digital art?
Yes, it is 2020 after all. Computer graphics have their place. But the electronic influence on this art is only on the most basic level. I’ve manipulated the photographs I’ve taken of my art and not the art itself. As such, you’ll see a photo of the original work inside the mixed media book, a manipulated version of each spread, and sometimes a further electronically manipulated detail or two inside each chapter’s post.
I’ve made Striking Balance into more than a celebration; it’s become an interactive process – a historical dark fantasy with original art and suggested music for each chapter. If you follow along with the posts you can read the novel within five weeks, if you jump ahead you can come back and view the art pieces afterward and reflect on their meaning once you know what’s happened. Either is good, and I’ve had interesting feedback in each direction.
Thirty-six chapters. 130,000 words, thirty-six pieces of art plus one epilogue piece, and thirty-seven song selections.
Are you up for the journey? If so, the ebook version of Striking Balance is available for only $3.99 (U.S) beginning tomorrow, with the print book being available for order as well. Either way, the art will be here, so come back to view as you read.
It’ll be worth your time.