Last spring, I had a birthday. I thought it might be fun to do plein air painting that day out at the pond, so I invited a few people to paint and party with us. We had a lot of fun. Even the dogs were celebrating.

Then during the fall studio tour in Whatcom County, I saw that my friend Nancy Canyon had a painting on the wall that looked very familiar. On closer inspection, of course it looked familiar. It was a painting of the pond! Now it’s hanging in the studio.

Noon Road Pond by Nancy Canyon

Noon Road Pond by Nancy Canyon

Nancy Canyon is a Bellingham poet and artist who also teaches and writes memoir and fiction. A talented lady! You can see more of her work here: http://nancycanyon.com.

The photo below shows the current view from the little spit between the two ponds near where Nancy painted. Right now, the two are one pond, and frozen over solid. I think I might even ice skate out there tonight under the gibbous moon. We’ll see if the wind dies down enough.

Frozen over, December 8

The pond is frozen over, December 8

Even if I don’t skate, I love this time of year if the pond freezes over. Otherwise, I’m waiting impatiently for the warmer colors of spring.

 

These sunny days coincide with the final few days of the show at Allied Arts of Whatcom County. I’m just a wee bit late in making this blog post, but I’ve been very busy getting books ready for the official signing  of the soft cover edition of The Moon’s Answer, a poem by Lana Ayers, which will happen at the end of this month. All one hundred of the soft covers are completed. I’m still working on the hard covers.

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The Moon’s Answer soft cover edition, standing on a small pile of handmade papers. 

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But there are three other handmade books of mine to view at Allied Arts. Plus, the beautiful artwork of my good friend Nancy Canyon, and two other excellent artists. I really enjoyed this show titled “Nature,” and hope you have time, too, before it comes down next Monday.

The first is a small casebound hard cover, called Journal of small things.

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Journal of small things is a case-bound book with a place to put small things in a little pocket in the back of the book. 

The title is embossed with silver onto a mat, which was glued onto a piece of marbled paper. The book is covered in paper made using seaweed from the Pacific Ocean—There’s nothing like the Pacific to make you understand smallness. Well, maybe the universe.

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But the book contains handmade paper, and along its spine rough beads dangle from knotted cords. The pocket in the back is ample enough to contain several tiny things one might find while wandering along a beach.

Another book that is on display in the gallery is titled Shadows We Leave Behind. It is a truncated tale told in sporadic language by the dogwood petals and their impressions from the young, single tree that grows outside the window of the frame shop here.

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The cover is embossed with a double title, one with and one without a silver lining. A word or two are hand-printed on every page of petals. Each page contains one to three petals, and their embossed “shadows.” The book is bound with a version of the Japanese stab binding. This is the first paper I made that was dyed with Indian plums, which, as you know, is one of the very first flowers to bloom in spring. Poets here have written almost as many Indian plum poems as heron poems. [Joke! But nearly true as well.] It’s a wonderful plant.

There’s also another book on display, but I’m running out of time, and want to post this as soon as I can. I may update this later, if I can. But the other book is titled Journal of the Future and Back, with the rich brown of late blackberries in the dye for the pond algae on the cover.

I’ll make another posting of the process used for making the editions of the handmade books for The Moon’s Answer in the near future, hopefully. It’s been quite the process, and a lot of fun. Meanwhile, I continue to gain experience in paper-making, bookmaking, natural dying, printing, drawing, and much, much more.

—Anita K. Boyle

The first copy of The Moon’s Answer, hand-sewn on June 9, 2016.

I’m proud to announce a new limited edition, illustrated book from Egress Studio Press featuring a single love poem: The Moon’s Answer by Lana Ayers.

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The drawing table, with pen, nib, ink, and mess.

I decided to illustrate The Moon’s Answer so the the poem’s presentation would be on a darkened moonlit page. The double-page spreads were drawn with a nib on a dip pen, and one and a half bottles of waterproof India ink. After many hours of drawing the illustrations, this book is finally in production mode! I’ve been working on finishing up the double-page spread pen & ink illustrations for quite a while. So many interruptions(!), but the drawings are now completed, photographed, and reproduced in the layout. The book idea started out as being printed in black only, but as I began looking at what I could actually do with it, I decided to add a bit of color throughout. I don’t want to go into many details about the poem itself, except that it is a poem I enjoyed working with very much.

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Title page detail.

As many of you know, Lana Ayers is a poet, a fiction writer, a teacher, and a publisher, among other things, such as mathematician and lover of strange flavors of ice cream. She has supported the poetry community in Western Washington for over a decade, and has provided substantial encouragement for many individual writers.

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The illustrations are drawn so the tree-line runs from one page to the next, making an accordion-bound book possible.

The final book will be published in two limited-editions, both handmade. There will be one hundred copies in a square-spined soft cover, and a dozen hard covers. Some of the hard covers will be more art-book-like than others. Each copy of both the hard and soft covers will be signed by the poet, Lana Ayers, and the illustrator, Anita K. Boyle (me). Almost all of them will be offered for sale soon. I plan to have them ready to go out the door by the end of July.

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The center spread, hand-sewn.

The first to be published will be the soft cover edition, which will include handmade endpapers. The binding will be hand-sewn with linen threads. There will be a wrap-around cover. The handmade paper uses cotton linters, recycled papers from Egress Studio, and contains lavender fibers (from the plants at the south side of the studio). Naturally dyed with buttercups, the endpapers are a color that is suggestive of the yellow moon. The book size is nine inches tall and six and a half inches wide, and has thirty-two pages.

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The title page on the right, handmade paper on the left.

To finish all the hard covers may take a little longer than late July, but I’ll try my best. Some of them will use the same papers as the soft cover edition. But others from the hard cover edition might be made entirely of handmade papers. I say “might” because I need to make at least one book in order to see if it can be done. I’m planning, too, that some of the hard covers would use an accordion fold, so that the illustrations can be unfolded in such a way that the poem could run continuously in a straight line (or in a circle). I’ll attempt to get one of those ready by the beginning of June. Wish me luck! As soon as they are ready for sale, I’ll put them on my website, egressstudio.com, and make an announcement.

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The timer is there because I work in sixty minute increments, so I remember to stand up and move around.

Social Fabric is a new business in Bellingham WA that is a Textile Gallery, Boutique and Learning Facility. The owner, Renee Sherrer, has a dream to “create a space that will open the door to the world of textile arts, fashion design and the sewing arts.” That is exactly what you’ll find inside her shop. Check it out online at the Social Fabric website.

During the months of March and April, you can stop by to see artworks in the gallery space by Renee Sherrer, Denise Snyder and Anita K. Boyle (me). Each of the artworks involved handmade paper in some way. Here is one of my artworks….

This artwork uses upcycled paper, embossed, to create a comparison of shell types, from floral to fauna to human impact.

This artwork uses upcycled paper, embossed, to create a comparison of shell types, from floral to fauna to human impact.

Nature has a way of protecting the individual by encasement. As individuals, we have the “shell” of our bodies, the “shell” that surrounds our brains, and perhaps one for our consciousness. Who knows? Sometimes, this shell-like separation feels like isolation. Generally speaking, though, we live happily in these natural shells, learning, working and playing with whatever we can. Right? This work showcases shells of all sorts: egg shells, sunflower seeds, snail shells, bullet casings, and even a garter snake skin. The paper is embossed with a small ice cube tray, to indicate another form of shell. These details are placed on a thick piece of handmade paper (made from book trimmings and other recycled papers). A small monotype displays circles and lines, to repeat the idea of shells, and includes a dried mushroom cap and stem. This artwork also includes ink, thread, gouache, and a hiker’s bear bell. The egg shells were dropped by robins or other wild birds; the sunflower seeds are eaten by birds, and the snails eat vegetation like the sunflowers in our gardens. The artist, who planted the garden, uses her brain-in-a-shell to gather and place these elements (and others) into this artwork titled “Shell Game.”

In this show, there are a few more assemblages, several of my handmade journals that make use handmade paper and pond algae, and some small sets of handmade paper.

Here is a link to see the Art of Denise Snyder on her website. She has three pieces on display at Social Fabric.

The artworks Renee is showing use paper she has made that include threads and printed matter duplicated in a process she would be happy to explain to you. So go to Social Fabric (1302 Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA) and see this show. Chat with Renee while you’re there. She’s a lot of fun, and brilliant, too. You can see more of her work on this page of the Social Fabric website.

At Social Fabric, Renee holds a surprising variety of classes in Fashion Design, Pattern Making, Sewing at many levels, Draping on the Form, Copying a garment without taking it apart, Fashion Promotion, Felting, Millinery, Paper Making, and many many more topics. For example, on Saturday, April 2, 2016, Renee will teach a class on Shibori, which is a Japanese artform of shaped resist dyeing. Take this class, and you will discover the wonders of creating beauty on of the world’s most revered fabrics and time-honored Japanese silk art modalities. Each participant will take home enough shibori squares to form a booklet, collages, notecards or for use in other creative ways. The level of difficulty for this workshop is low, the level of fun is quite high.
Time: 11–6 p.m.
Location: Social Fabric, 1302 Commercial Street, Bellingham.
Phone: (360)733-1323
Fee: $50.

I visited my daughter Angela and her partner Abe in White River Junction between January 6 and the 13th. My son Isaac came along, too. Since Angela’s attending the Center for Cartoon Studies, and should receive her MFA this May, I thought I share a few photos I took during our post-holiday winter stay at WRJ.

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Greetings at the Coolidge Hotel

After a long red-eye flight, complete with delays and hunger, accentuated with poor sleep, coffee was necessary.

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Angela and Abe in sunny, downtown WRJ

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Isaac with coffee

It had snowed and was sort of melting. Signs mentioned that it is not safe to stand near the eaves of buildings.

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We took a tour of the CCS seniors’ building, starting with the stairs.

Then to the main senior classroom, where Angela showed us her desk.

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The whiteboard information

A doll and found art add the necessary decorations for a cartoon classroom. This is serious education after all.

There are also some Asian influenced artworks to view.

And some wall art.

I took a tour of the downtown White River Junction…

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This is the main building of the Center for Cartoon Studies

A few more buildings from WRJ.

Yes, WRJ has an opera house. Oddly. And there’s also an old train station there…

And the entrance to Angela’s place, plus a couple more photos of a garage door above where A&A live, and the trees at the top of the hill… or the mountain, as they rightfully call it, though it would be a foothill if it were here. Sorry. I couldn’t help saying that.

I also visited the possibly world famous Center for Cartoon Studies [Charles] Schultz Library. If it isn’t world famous, it should be.  There are so many fantastic and amazing books in this library—Kapow!—I’d advise everyone who can to plan a visit. The books fill the shelves from ceiling to floor. There are major publishers and self-published books represented. You’ll find everything from the mass produced books to the highest quality limited-edition handmade books on the shelves. And no white gloves necessary.

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Entryway to the CCS Schultz Library with Angela at work.

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Angela and Abe at work in CCS’ library

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By the end of the week, we were pretty tired.

Last Saturday, I took a four-hour toolmaking workshop at Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress (http://bisonbookbinding.com/) in Bellingham, WA, with Jim Croft, who teaches the old ways of bookbinding and papermaking in Idaho. See his website here: http://www.traditionalhand.com

So we all met in Bison’s workshop, and Jim showed us several boxes of deer and elk bones from which we could choose our subjects for the class. He also showed us several files and sandpapers that we would be working with, as well as a right-handed hewing axe, and a hand drill. He also had a left-handed hewing axe. This type of axe is flat on one side, and is use to gently shape the bones prior to filing and sanding. I tried it, and it worked just fine. He even had a stump handy next to a backboard, so the chips wouldn’t fly too far.

Three bone tools on handmade paper dyed with blackberries

Three bone tools on handmade paper dyed with blackberries


I chose a medium-small deer bone to start with, hewed it, and then used three files and four sandpapers on it to make a bone folder. The inside was indented, as a bone is sometimes, and Jim showed me a few tools made of broken knife or saw blades. They were about three to four inches long, and had one (or both) end sharpened for scraping out the bone. I tried that, and it seemed to work okay, and then… more sandpapering, but with the scrap rolled up.

Then I made another, smaller, bone folder from another deer bone. It is a tan “wooden” color because it was buried in the dirt for a while to clean it. The first one was boiled, which kept it white. I finished the second one about a half hour before the workshop was over. I kept sanding it, since you can sand them until they are smooth as gems, which is even smoother than a baby’s bottom. I did that for ten minutes, thinking about getting another bone before I finally made up my mind and did.

A short thin bone, this time. I was thinking of an awl. So I hewed that one pointed on one end, and got to work. I still have some sanding to do on all of the tools I made, but I ended up with three perfectly useful handmade bone tools. My friend Nancy was also there, and was able to leave the workshop with her own bookbinding tools. Each one is different from the other. That is only one of the beauties of making things by hand.

Two bone folders and the beginning of an awl

Two bone folders and the beginning of an awl

The Transformations & Translations Show will be held at The Works Studio, Gallery and Conversations: 301 W. Holly, #U3, Bay Street Village, Bellingham, WA. Stop in to see the artworks during Bellingham’s Art Walk Night—Friday, June 5 from 6 to 9 PM. And also on Friday, June 12 from 7 to 9 PM, for an evening of music, poetry and art (with musician Allison Preisinger, and poets Nancy Canyon, James Bertolino and Anita K. Boyle). This event is an “official” pop-up gallery show.

Mary Jo Maute in her studio

Mary Jo Maute in her studio (photo by Rifka MacDonald)

Mary Jo Maute is an acclaimed and respected artist working in Western Washington. Her art has been celebrated in New York, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, California and Washington. No wonder she’s smiling.

“Self Portrait” by Mary Jo Maute

Richly colored with provocative shapes, subtle details, and more than a few surprises, Maute’s paintings never fail to challenge and delight the viewer. At a distance, this self portrait offers an appealing arrangement of strong color areas. Then, on closer viewing, it is full of forms that suggest creatures and symbols.

“Burial” by Mary Jo Maute

It’s exciting to closely examine all the marks and areas between the forms. What the viewer brings to abstraction is very important to the experience of the painting. For example, the blue area could be a reclining person or animal. I see a bird, a goose—and the brown area could be a nest. There may be a green dancing figure with a brown paw near the center foreground. But I tend to enjoy animals and nature. None of this might be the artist’s intention, but this is what happened for me in looking deeper into the paint.

In 1997, Maute received the Distinguished Service Award from the Washington Art Education Association. She continues to offer Whatcom County residents many opportunities to learn more about art at the Whatcom Museum.

“Reading in Bed” by Mary Jo Maute

In this painting titled “Reading in Bed,” some of the shapes seem animal-like, while others might suggest an open book or a bed. Symbolically, the rectangular area could be read as both a book and a bed. The outlines create a contrast with the color forms. Much of the painted surface offers broad, soft modulations, while other areas are more stippled or even ragged. The white areas, or spots, might suggest the ability to look through the painting to what might be beyond.

Maute’s solo exhibitions include Yellowstone Art Museum in Montana, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, and Allied Arts of Whatcom County in Bellingham. She has received seven awards since 1982, including a Ucross Foundation Residency in 2013, and a Montana Arts Council Artist Fellowship in 1987.

Anita K. Boyle, with camera

Anita K. Boyle, with camera

Anita K. Boyle is an artist who is also a poet, graphic designer and publisher. She was an art and English major at Western Washington University, graduating cum laude in 1998. Her works have been exhibited at the Hanson Scott Gallery in Seattle, Loomis Hall Gallery in Blaine, Jansen Art Center in Lynden, and Lucia Douglas Gallery, Allied Arts of Whatcom County and Whatcom Museum in Bellingham.

“Municipal Circuitry” by Anita K. Boyle

Boyle’s assemblages often use her handmade paper, as well as items she’s gathered, which, in numerous ways, represent aspects of her life and the lives around her—both natural and inanimate. “Municipal Circuitry” includes washers, electrical components, part of a cell phone, a roll of copper wire and a wasp nest on handmade paper with dandelion seeds. The assemblage is placed on green ink-stained plywood under copper-foiled glass.

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“Song of the Bone Crickets” by Anita K. Boyle

In “Song of the Bone Crickets,” the black clusters spread across the lower area consist of ink that dried on glass and was then scraped off in rolls. The left elephant garlic flower cap holds moth wing “petals” around a section of wasp nest. Below the garlic cap on the right are two songbird bones that appear as crickets to the artist.

“Leaf Poem” by Anita K. Boyle

“Leaf Poem” begins with a stanza of corrugated cardboard that supports a row of garden snail shells. The thin line across the cardboard is a sky-blue insulated wire. Below the cardboard, we see tea leaves, strands of ink shavings on the left and right sides, and metal fasteners, all on handmade paper. On the black paper, there is a column of poppy pods, and the main leaf-poem stanza of the artwork, which has chrysanthemum leaves in a rhythm on more paper. The ink on the right column is woven into the fasteners, and is intended to be the final stanza of the poem.

Both artists, Mary Jo Maute and Anita K. Boyle, communicate through symbolism in their artworks through different media. They use different mediums to transform their ideas into a visual format. The placement of each element within the artworks is a translation from the imagination to the visual, and has yet to be translated into language, or actual words. Artists often attempt to “write” the ineffable.

—written by James Bertolino

From the Press Release…

Two artists—Mary Jo Maute and Anita K. Boyle—will share their evocative paintings and assemblages in Prentiss Cole’s The Works Studio… for two Fridays in June. On June 5, Maute and Boyle will be present to chat with you about art and technique. Then, on June 12, Boyle will read her poems, and be joined by singer/songwriter, Allison Preisinger, as well as poets Nancy Canyon and James Bertolino.

Mary Jo Maute’s work is inspired by natural forms – the human figure, animals, plants and micro-organisms. She prefers to jump in and let the ideas, shapes and relationships emerge uncensored. Images are layered, erased, overlapped, and interconnected to create a luminous interplay between the sensual nature of paint and marks, and the intangible aspects of memory, sensation, and emotion.

Anita K. Boyle’s assemblages could be called environmental self-portraits. For this show, she will feature artworks that are language-related in some way: titles include “R Story,” “Letter from the Country,” and “Self Portrait of an Iceberg,” among others. Boyle’s experience as a graphic designer adds balance, contrast, texture and value to each piece, as much as her understanding of several art techniques—from papermaking to drawing, painting and more. Natural and synthetic materials present a communication between conflict and harmony. Stories are the inspiration for some of the assemblages; in others, a story happens as the artwork is being made, and still others tell their own stories.

About Mary Jo Maute

Former Montana resident, Maute now lives in Bellingham, Washington and works as education coordinator at the Whatcom Museum of History & Art. She earned an MFA from University of Colorado, Boulder and a B.F.A. from Daemen College in her native city, Buffalo, NY. She has exhibited in New York, California, Colorado, Montana and Washington and has work in public and private collections including the Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT; the Missoula Museum of the Arts, Missoula, MT; and Deaconess Medical Center, Billings, MT. She recently completed a residency at Ucross Foundation in Clearmont, Wyoming. 

About Anita K. Boyle

Poet and artist Anita K. Boyle is a freelance graphic designer and sole proprietor at Egress Studio, and a publisher of Washington State poets. She is currently working on illustrating a book of poems—The Moon’s Answer by Lana Ayers—which will be published by Egress Studio Press in both hard and soft cover, handmade, limited editions before year’s end. She is also working on several new assemblages that use handmade and naturally-made paper, which you can see at the July juried exhibit at Allied Arts of Whatcom County. New poems are also in the works. In 1998, she graduated cum laude with a BA from Western Washington University (Art and English majors.)