On my reader today …things magazine with a cache of books. The met publications are a great resource for free art books and online or offline reading especially on american art, but not only. There are many interesting titles on the site, for example van Gogh in Arles. Not all publication can be read in full, some are only available in limited pre-views.
Blurb has made a great change to their e-book feature. In the past e-books had to be a one to one copy of the print versions. I had problems with that because there was no good solution for double page pictures. In the print version I prefer to leave some extra space in the middle to avoid that a part of the picture gets lost in the center. In the old ebook version that extra space would show up as doubled picture areas.
Now Blurb has an online ebook editor that allows you to convert your print book version online into an ebook. You can re-align images,edit text and adjust text boxes to your ebook format. That allowed me to get perfect double page pictures in the forest diary
This is the original “paper back print version”. In the printed book there is no duplication of the center area because of the center fold that eats up some of the image in the center. Unfortunately the book preview of the print version still looks like that, which might be irritating.
This is how I aligned the images for the ebook version with the online ebook editor. I find this new possibility great because I can get a “perfect” reproduction, a real facsimile look of the original sketchbook. The ebook in addition can be offered cheaper than a printed version can ever get. It is not only the price of paper and print, there are also no shipping costs.
At present Blurb allows only a limited page count for preview. Some authors think that their book sales will suffer if visitors are able to see the entire book on the computer screen. Having the content compiled and with some extra text in hand as a book makes a difference. Why do people buy a blog book? There are famous examples like the “Satorialist” by blogger Scott Schuman or the WeiWei blog book.
Anyway for those who prefer to see pictures books on a computer or the Ipad now there is an Ebook version of the forest diary available.
Yes, I still design some t-shirts…this is for the ambitious gardener (link to Skreened shop).
I am way behind with writing about latest interesting finds on the net. So here comes a short list…
1. Springpad.com has proven the only online notebook that is quick,easy and efficient enough to stay on my comp and mobile. The bar code scanning with the mobile camera is great to save interesting books. (My public notebooks)
2.Some landscapes one of my favorite blogs had some great posts on landscape and writing recently. I commend to check on the material about Alice Oswald and others plus the intriguing library of the forest
3. If you do not know Olaf Hajek yet, you probably should change that. I think the man operates in the Bermuda triangle between illustration,craft and (decorative) art.
4. One of those Pinterest fans had this video on his blog. Of course I will not mention the blog, but the video on creativity by John Cleese, which proves once again that one needs to be terribly clever to play a fool.
A friendly reader mailed me two incredible text quotes, one from Sartre and one from Vaclav Havel, which I want to post here.
From Nausea by Sartre
“So I was in the park just now. The roots of the chestnut tree were sunk in the ground just under my bench. I couldn’t remember it was a root any more. The words had vanished and with them the significance of things, their methods of use, and the feeble points of reference which men have traced on their surface. I was sitting, stooping forward, head bowed, alone in front of this black, knotty mass, entirely beastly, which frightened me. Then I had this vision. It left me breathless. Never, until these last few days, had I understood the meaning of “existence.” […] We were a heap of living creatures, irritated, embarrassed at ourselves, we hadn’t the slightest reason to be there, none of us, each one, confused, vaguely alarmed, felt in the way in relation to the others. […] In the way, the chestnut tree there, opposite me, a little to the left. And I—soft, weak, obscene, digesting, juggling with dismal thoughts—I, too, was In the way. […]
The word absurdity is coming to life under my pen; a little while ago, in the garden, I couldn’t find it, but neither was I looking for it, I didn’t need it: I thought without words, on things, with things. Absurdity was not an idea in my head, or the sound of a voice, only this long serpent dead at my feet, this wooden serpent. [...] I understood that I had found the key to Existence, the key to my Nauseas, to my own life. In fact, all that I could grasp beyond that returns to this fundamental absurdity.”
From Letters to Olga by Vaclav Havel
“Again, I call to mind that distant moment in [the prison at] Hermanice when on a hot, cloudless summer day, I sat on a pile of rusty iron and gazed into the crown of an enormous tree that stretched, with dignified repose, up and over all the fences, wires, bars and watchtowers that separated me from it. As I watched the imperceptible trembling of its leaves against an endless sky, I was overcome by a sensation that is difficult to describe: all at once, I seemed to rise above all the coordinates of my momentary existence in the world into a kind of state outside time in which all the beautiful things I have ever seen and experienced existed in a total “co-present”; I felt a sense of reconciliation, indeed of an almost gentle assent to the inevitable course of events as revealed to me now, and this combined with a carefree determination to face what had to be faced. A profound amazement at the sovereignty of Being became a dizzy sensation of tumbling endlessly into the abyss of its mystery; an unbounded joy at being alive, at having been given the chance to live through all I have lived through, and at the fact that everything has a deep and obvious meaning— this joy formed a strange alliance in me with a vague horror at the incomprehensibility and unattainability of everything I was so close to in that moment, standing at the very “edge of the infinite”; I was flooded with a sense of ultimate happiness and harmony with the world and with myself, with that moment, with all the moments I could call up, and with everything invisible that lies behind it and has meaning. I would even say that I was somehow “struck by love”, though I don’t know precisely for whom or what.”
Both texts evoke pictures or imaginations from our memories of trees. The texts do not only evoke pictures they need them to come to existence and to be understood.
After reading some of the essays in the book “Exploring new information cultures”(link to the book on amazon, no I get no commission) I am not sure whether this is an entirely off topic post. Reading is not only reading text it is also reading pictures: reading becomes looking. The new media+internet seem to blur the distinction between reading and looking and also writing.
The book is published under CC3.0 license and there is an online version at www.IreadwereIam.com
I prefer the printed version because it is easier to read. The typography in the online version is not very suitable for online reading. The printed version is much more friendly for the human eye and easy and quick to read. The printed version has a table of content,glossary, a keyword index and a table of content showing the first 140 characters of each essay.
The 82 essays are short, 2-3 minute texts, which propose very inspiring and unique views on reading in theory and practise. Some of the essays of course touch the well-known subject of deep reading loss and keyword skimming trained by reading online versus the traditional reading of books, but that is only a side line. The book opens a can of inspiring worms. It is worthwhile to digest not only the texts but also to connect via internet, to search authors and their institutions and their websites for deeper reading and discovery.
The local bookstore has proven indispensable one more time. I found one copy of “Oak,one tree,three years,50 paintings” by the British painter Stephen Taylor lying on top of a pile of art books as if it was left there with purpose to be found by the right buyer. A quick look made clear that I had to have the book in any case. At home I slowly realised that I had made a really lucky discovery.
Painting is dead since Duchamp . If painting is dead, plein air and/or landscape painting is deader than dead. But it is something painters cannot let go it seems. I can spare you explanations about the artist Stephen Taylor and his motivations (Stephen Taylor writings) because the artist has documented his work on his website. After seven years of studies in the same open Essex landscape Stephen Tayler has turned his attention to painting water. His almost scientific interest in the perception of colour and light becomes more clear after watching the short videos on painting water.
It is the first time that I see a painter making use of digital photography and plein air field studies with convincing results. The big paintings are photorealistic in an irritating way as they contain a breeze of Rousseau at the same time which makes the image toggle between photography and painting. The book has a some interesting detail reproductions which illustrate indeed the intention of the painter to display the perception of nature with his observation-based painting. The “pictures of a tree” seem the inevitable by-product of that process.
For someone who has done observation-based sketching in the woods for a couple of years Stephen Taylor and his work are a great confirmation. After the forest diary I feel that I need to take the next step with drawing,sketching or painting trees without making “pictures”. That was the mantra I had in mind over the last 12 months when I set out to the next sketch : make notes of what you see, sketch without making a picture. Reading this book might be the required catalyst.