Friday, December 3, 2010

Step by Step

If you ever need motivation to get yourself organized, watch an episode of "Hoarders." It will scare the procrastination right out of you! Over the summer I had my hardwood floors refinished and had to move everything out of the first floor of my house which included a piano. The furniture and piano was the easy part, as I hired professionals to transfer everything to my garage and back into my house several weeks later. The hard part was putting back all the clutter. Not real clutter, but when you have a clean slate to work with, it's hard to bring all the "stuff" back into your house. I kind of liked the minimalist look.

I got most of it done, but my bookcase that stores my collection of picture books and artist reference books was a big mental roadblock. Lots of work carting all the books back into the house. I told myself I'd go through them and donate the ones I didn't really want anymore. A rather large undertaking. I procrastinated for months, looking at the poor things stored in my garage in bags and boxes everyday. A big pile of stuff now cluttering up my garage. But my fear was that putting them back on the shelf was also going to look like a big messy eyesore.

My sister Sherri, who is an interior designer, wrote a creative post about bookshelves on her blog. She talked about arranging books by color which really inspired me. So in came all the books from the garage. I sorted and donated and put the books back on the shelf and arranged them by their colors. Much easier on the eye, and actually much easier to find books I'm looking for!

While I was sorting through all the books, I came across some very old issues of Step-By-Step Magazine, which unfortunately is no longer in publication. I used to love the articles about illustrators and their process. This magazine was popular before artists had websites and blogs to talk about how they created their art. My favorite issue was with artwork by the Swiss artist Etienne Delessert. He and his wife, designer Rita Marshall, have collaborated for years creating the most beautiful children's art. I remembered that he had such rich texture in his work and people were always asking him how he got that effect.

He admitted that at first he wanted to keep it a secret, because in his early days of being the new kid on the block, he didn't want to reveal a technique that he had made up and that no one else was using. But finally, Milton Glaser was able to get him to tell how he got such incredible richness in his work.

After inking his drawing with sepia ink, he roughly lays down watercolor, not caring if there are brush strokes. He then wraps a tiny portion of an old cotton handkerchief around his index finger, wets the fine cloth with his tongue, rubs it lightly on his hand, and begins erasing the color, smoothing it out, softening it, blending it as he creates texture. After the painting is completely finished in watercolor, he then goes back in with colored pencil.

His website has a large gallery of his incredible work. There is a video of him working if you go into the "News" section. Unfortunately it is in French, but you can see a master artist at work just the way he described in Step-by-Step magazine which was published in 1993.


Sherri Cassara said...

Wow! Great job on the bookshelves Debbie! I love that you put them in groups of colors. ;.)

Ride Operator said...

If I can an extra burst of energy, I'm going to try that. Now you've got me curious on which color we have the most books!

Alicia PadrĂ³n said...

WOW Deb, I am loving this post! Your bookshelf looks amazing, what a neat idea! It's great for us visual types too.. Im sure this makes it a lot easier to find books now.

I am going to re read the post now and visit those links. :o)