Great Expectations Day 39


Day 39: the 6th (and last) panel of my altered book triptych. I will take some photos tomorrow of the whole thing, both sides, to post. It all looks good together!

I am addicted to art supplies. Obsession:Confession

Mrs Joe has been out all day at market with the bumbling Mr Pumblechook helping him select household goods. (He’s incapable of doing this himself?) Joe has been cleaning and telling Pip his life story, mainly his childhood. They hear her coming up the road on Mr P’s chaise-cart. It’s very cold. (Remember, it’s winter, a year after the incident with the convict.) Once inside, warming by the fire, Mrs Joe remarks that Pip had better be grateful for something being offered by a woman. (Exact word used was “she”.) “SHE???” Pip and Joe remark. Who is this mystery woman and what is she offering Pip?

On this panel, I freehand painted a little portrait of Dickens and added the title of the book. There was this odd shaped red satin bloop in the middle so I turned that into a speech bubble. For the next few days (maybe a week) I plan to work on one larger piece, spending more time on it. I’ll post my progress daily though!

Great Expectations Day 38


Again… here is the slightly pornographic black shape with “Tickler” written across it! Yikes! This really is very innocent… a penguin’s fin and Tickler is the knobby cane Mrs Joe uses to keep Joe and Pip in-line. This is what Dickens chose to call it!

Here is panel 5 of the Altered Book I am creating as I read along in my copy of Great Expectations. In this part of the story, Joe tells Pip that Mrs Joe is given to government… the government of Joe and Pip! She won’t like it if Joe becomes a scholar because he might rebel against her and her governing. Joe puts up with her because he sees his poor mother in her and all her suffering and slaving away. Pip develops a new respect and admiration for Joe.

For this panel, I decided to play with printing. I tore apart some cardboard and painted the inside with gray paint. Then used it like a stamp to print. Just wanted some interesting texture.

Next I made a stamp with that awful environment-hating styrofoam. It works great for carving and printing.

I made a little Pip holding a bottle of tar-water. (Another method of Mrs Joe’s to keep the boys in-line!) I painted this stamp with the same gray acrylic paint and made three prints with it. Pip walking around the Tickler.

Great Expectations Day 37


A year of experimentation

My inspiration:

Great Expectations.

Day 37! Joe just finished telling Pip his childhood story… about his abusive alcoholic father and the death of his parents. He took up his father’s trade: blacksmithing. He was lonesome until he met Pip’s sister and she’s a “fine figure of a woman” despite what Pip thinks. Joe tells Pip that he told Mrs Joe that there was room at the forge for Pip. And that’s how Pip came to live with Joe and his sister. Pip is grateful to Joe and feels an even stronger bond with him now.

Since I am experimenting, I decided to try gold leafing on this panel of my Altered Book. I have never done it before! It was fun and pretty easy. I watched a few YouTube “how-to-gold-leaf” videos first. Then grabbed my Michaels coupon and headed to the store. I went with the gold flakes rather than the perfect flat sheets. (Less pressure that way – using the leaves that are already torn to bits!) I bought the recommended glue, but I think any kind of tacky glue would work. Came back and did it right away! Here are the supplies I used:

And here is a detail showing the gold a little better. (This definitely is something that looks best in person and not captured on film.)

I have been working on an Illuminated Page project with my art students for the past few weeks (ages 9-11) and just recently saw “The Secret of Kells” animated movie. (It’s so good!) These things gave me the idea to do an illuminated P panel. At first my colors (markers) were too bright and psychedelic so I went over the whole panel with a layer of white acrylic paint. I aged the page a bit by rubbing silver and brown stamp pads all over. Then added the gold leaf!


Great Expectations Day 36


Is this Day 36 or 37??? Yesterday, actual Day 36, I posted photos of my other Altered Books. (You can see those if you click on the tab above.) I’m going to go ahead and keep this as Day 36.

Joe continues to explain his childhood to Pip. He had an abusive, alcoholic father. Joe and his mother would occasionally escape from him and settle down elsewhere. She’d find work and put Joe in school. But, the dad would find them, drag them back home and “hammer them” some more. This is why Joe never received an education or learned to read and write. Instead, he took up blacksmithing, his father’s trade. Joe “kep” (cared for?) his father until he died of a “purple leptic fit”. There was no money to engrave a poem Joe had written for his father’s gravestone. His mother died soon after. Joe becomes teary-eyed as he tells his story to Pip.

Here is another panel of my triptych altered book. I glued down a portion of page 39 out of the book. (I scanned it in and made a print out. This is not the actual page!) Then I painted purple circles all over. This reminds me of the “purple leptic fit” Joe’s dad had. It’s interesting how Dickens describes the fit with a color. I took some of the rest of the page paper and made loops to glue down. (I used Surebonder 9001 glue but could have used a regular white glue.) I had first thought of making a paper chain to glue on, but decided that was too obvious. (The chains that bind us all:  the prisoner’s actual leg irons, Joe’s dad, Pip’s sister.) I like these 3D loops where you can read some of the text of the story. Lastly, I painted on a gray acrylic hammer and two white figures at the bottom.

Great Expectations Day 34


[Page 37… a year has passed since the events on Christmas Day with the convict.]

On the page before we found out that Pip attends a night school taught by Mr Wopsle’s great-aunt. She also has a general store in the same room as the classroom, which is run by Biddy, her grand-daughter. (I’m confused by everyone’s relation to one another, and I believe Pip is too!) Biddy is an orphan like Pip and needs some “tending to”… cleaning up. But she does look nice on Sundays for church and she helps Pip learn to read and write.

Pip writes a letter to Joe to show off what he has learned. (It’s really pretty bad… poor spelling and grammar. But at least he’s making an effort.) In the letter he tells Joe that he soon hopes to teach him reading and writing and mentions something about becoming an apprentice to him also. It’s written so poorly, it’s hard to understand!

My next few pieces will be part of an altered book; a triptych using old children’s board books. They start out like this:

As cute as they are, these books have been chewed on, slobbered on, scribbled on (by babies and dogs) and it’s time to give them a NEW life! I took several different ones, of varying sizes and cut them apart. Then coated the pages with the primer Gesso, let dry. I coated some panels with black acrylic paint. Then chose three panels to tape together. I used black electrical tape.

First I glue on a page (page 37 that I scanned and printed from the book that I am reading). This gives me a base to work with and the text adds some texture. I use Matte Gel Medium to adhere the paper items on.

To start the really fun part: I glued on an old “Old Maid” playing card that I found at an antique store. It has a picture of a little boy that looks like Pip. Then I drew a picture of Dickens as a young lad with pencil and black pastel. Next, stamped a pig (since a few days ago Pip was likened to a swine) and some other designs. Then some black paint and blue scribbles to finish it off! I’ll work on the other panels over the next few days. This will be fun!

Great Expectations Day 32


Pip decides not to confess to Joe. He is worried that if Joe knew, he’d always be suspecting Pip of watering down his beer and wondering what is missing from the pantry. They are on their way home through the marshes after the convict is put back on the prison-ship. Pip rides piggy-back on Joe. It’s very late and everyone is tired. Mr Wopsle has a hard time of it, sitting often to rest on the wet ground. This soaks his pants through and through.

Back home, Pip awakens fully when his sister, Mrs Joe, gives him a heavy thump on his back. They all sit around discussing how the convict broke into the house and stole the wittles from the pantry. It is decided by Mr Pumblechook that the convict climbed onto the roof and came down the chimney into the kitchen. Lucky for Pip, no one suspects him of aiding the convict at all!

A quick contour drawing with marker: mostly one-line, not picking the marker up (once or twice maybe) except to switch to a blue marker to show the convict’s hand in the pantry. This was a fun, easy one! I love doing contour one-line drawings.

Great Expectations Day 31


A coooollage! Day 31 and on page 34. Seriously thinking about reading 5 pages at a time, but still creating art daily and posting daily.

The convict and solders are still hanging around in the hut with Pip, Joe and Mr Wopsle. The convict tells Joe he is sorry for eating his pie. Joe says it’s OK. (He feels sorry for the convict.) Plus, to Pip’s relief, the convict does not blow Pips cover and tell how he got the pie and other wittles. They watch as the convict is taken out on the water and put back on the prison-ship.

Chapter 6 starts with Pip thinking of confiding in Joe about all that has transpired. But he decides against this because he doesn’t want to lose Joe’s confidence or love. Awwww…. I have not figured out how old Pip is. (Was it mentioned anywhere?) But he is still small enough to ride on Joe’s back so he can’t be too old.

Tune in for next installment!

Great Expectations Day 30


Hello! Yeah, It’s Friday! Here’s what is happening on page 33:

The group of soldiers, the two convicts, Pip, Joe and Mr Wopsle continue along through the marsh, walking along the river. There are tiny windmills on a dyke. (What is a dyke exactly? I checked  an embankment or wall built to confine a river to a particular course; to protect, enclose, or drain (land) with a dyke.)

After an hour or so of walking, they come to a hut with soldiers stationed there and a fire going. They stop off here. The soldiers there send off the “other” convict to be taken to the prison-ship. Next, it’s Pip’s convict’s turn. But before he goes, while warming himself by the fire, he tells everyone that he took some wittles, a dram of liquor and a pork pie from the blacksmith. Joe is alarmed and looks at Pip saying ‘Hollo, Pip!’ Will the convict rat Pip out? He’s the bad guy, not Pip!

I applied modeling paste to a piece of cardboard for this piece. This gave me some strong textures to start with. Then I painted a marsh landscape with a hut (actually looks more like a nice house though) and a windmill with acrylic paint. The river runs down in front.  I’m happy with how this came out, even though it’s not my usual style. Just experimenting!

I’m thinking of switching to reading 5 pages at a time and doing art for those 5 pages. It’s just taking forever! And I want to find out what’s going to happen to Pip sooner. (I’m impatient.) Plus, readers might want the story to move along a little faster. We’ll see… I’ll decide this weekend. Have a great weekend yourself!

Great Expectations Day 27


In the marsh, it’s extremely windy and starting to sleet. The sheep and cattle stare angrily at Pip as he, Joe, Mr Wopsle and the soldiers pass through, as if to blame them for the miserable conditions. Shouting is heard not too far off. Sounds like two men arguing. “Murder! Convicts! Runaways! Guard!” Everyone starts running in the direction of the shouting, soldiers with their muskets raised and ready.

They find the two convicts in a ditch duking it out. Dickens didn’t use “duking it out” but I got to wondering where this phrase came from.  Here’s what Urban Dictionary thinks:

Urban Dictionary: Duke It Out

To fight, usually fist fight. Probably from John ‘the Duke‘ Wayne movies where he would always end up fighting with someone.
The soldiers drag them out of the ditch. Tune in tomorrow to see if the one convict recognizes Pip!
(I choose to do a little collage/watercolor of the animals in the marsh, cold and angry.)

Great Expectations Day 26


A very watery watercolor! Happy Monday and President’s Day, especially for those who have it off!

Pip, Joe, Mr Wopsle (having trouble keeping up) and all the soldiers are tromping off through the marshes looking for the convicts. They go through the graveyard by the church where Pip’s family is buried. (This is Mrs Joe’s family also. I keep forgetting she is his sister and not his biological mother!) Pip gets a piggy-back ride from Joe.

He is very worried that if they find the convicts, the one convict he fed will recognize him and think he lead the soldiers to him. The scenery is described as a “watery lead color.” The sun is starting to set and there is no mist as in the morning. (This is still the same day, right, that Pip took the food to the convict? Yes, it is… Christmas Day!)

I am not completely happy with this very quick little watercolor. I did one similar to this about 20 years ago, but it was much larger, spent more time on it and it was more abstract. Oh well, the way I see it, not every piece will be a “hit.” Some will be “misses.” I’ll post anyway. Tomorrow, hopefully better! (Maybe I will redo this and take a little more time on it.)