Monday, October 26, 2009

I have no words

Last fall I was beginning to explore ideas for my Plan of Concentration project in the world of children's books and attended a book making workshop with Linda Lembke of Green River Bindery. At that point it was my intention to create my own wordless picture book using my own photographs to tell a semi-autobiographical story. The original concept was a little too much to execute in the time I had, so the eventual product was simplified considerably (result is the purple book with the leaves at left). Now apart from the fact that the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center (BMAC) is awesome (It's one of the things that enamored me to Brattleboro in the first place, thanks to an Andy Warhol exhibit) there's the fact that I love children's books and bookbinding as an art. So, all of this led to my being at an exhibit of artwork from Kaori Hamura's book Dream Seasons, a wordless narrative illustrated with stylized paintings on wood (if you like paintings on wood, also check out Audrey Kawasaki). The exhibit also included a list of other wordless children's books and related works, and I thought I'd share some of it here. The list was originally produced by BMAC, but I'm adding a few books of my own, as well.

Wordless Children's Books
David Wiesner is pretty good at purely illustrated stories, and wildly popular, too. My favourites are Tuesday, and Sector Seven, but there's also Flotsam and Free fall and a few others. He's very adept at putting the extraordinary into a context that makes it seem quite, well, ordinary, as in the cloud factory in Sector Seven, but while maintaining a sense of wonder, as in Tuesday.

Chris Van Allsburg put together a book of illustrations that are explained only by a single line of text that merely alludes to a greater, unknown story and inspires plenty of speculation among readers. The Mysteries of Harris Burdick goes under wordless books for me because so much of the value of the book comes from what the reader's mind creates to fill in the whole story behind each illustration.

The Arrival
by Shaun Tan is just a plain beautiful book. It's more of a graphic novel, with many, many detailed illustrations in order to get the story across, but still with plenty of room for imagination (which is what I think wordless books are really all about).

A few more, which you may look up on your own (builds character):
Home, by Jeannie Baker
Museum, by Barbara Lehman
Oops, by Arthur Geisert
The Red Book, also by Lehman
The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs
Trainstop, also by Lehman
Un-brella, by Scott Franson
Yellow Umbrella, by Jae-Soo Lui

If you're into this sort of thing, go check out the tag lists for Wordless, Stories Without Words, and Wordless Books on LibraryThing.

Do you prefer book links to LibraryThing or to Amazon? I think LT provides more information on a book, but if you want to go buy it right away you might want Amazon. However, I highly recommend hunting down books at your local bookshop, or at least clicking through a website like FlashlightWorthy, which provides awesome books lists and could use some support. If you're actually reading this, why not comment? Comments are constructive!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wishful listing

Dear Santa,

This year for Christmas I would like to receive the following...

My computer has been acting up lately, fighting back against my overuse by occasionally turning itself off and complaining constantly, or just refusing to comply with my commands. Don't get me wrong, I love my little iBookG4, especially because it still runs OS9 applications (read: games, aka Power Pete, which technically came with OS7), but if I could relieve it of some of its burden we'd both be happier. I'm torn though. Since I also need my computer to be able to handle advanced graphics work, a desktop with a tower and wide-screen might be best, but I'd also like a more competent laptop... For now, the 15 inch solid state MacBook Pro (previous link) would fill in fine; I can always add the larger display later. And the Mac Pro Nehalem can just wait until I pick up the Epson 9900(with orange and green inks. whoa).

Meanwhile, my communications capabilities are suffering from another case of outdated technology. Three years of being in my left pocket have been hard on my Nokia. At the same time, my ipod classic did the thing ipods do and broke its headphone jack, and quite likely has a hard drive failure as well. My immediate thought was to get another ipod, but as it turns out I might as well get an iphone 3GS 32 GB and solve both problems at once. And again, the solid state drive will help a lot when it's bouncing around in pockets and bags. Next issue: bluetooth earbuds/headset and laser keyboard (although I'd prefer if it were a smaller device. If only someone would develop it further!).

If I'm going to be getting that Epson 9900, I should really also have a digital camera. I'm conceding the point of digitization in photography only because buying a few medium-large format film cameras (with lenses and different backs), learning colour processing and setting up a colour darkroom (or at least getting a film scanner and settling with the printer) all poses slightly more difficulty than spending a few grand on two pieces of equipment. A quick browse through some old Photocritic posts pointed me at the Nikon D90, but further research and recommendations are welcome.

On a less selfish note, a good way to connect with other artists/photographers in the area is to hunt down your local darkroom. The Washington School of Photography, for instance, has a camera club and workshops for community members.

...Anyway, Santa, I don't know how to prioritize my phone, computer and camera needs, but there you have it. My best to Mrs. Claus and all the elves. See you in two months!