Sketchbook Project, again

Wayyyyy back in April, I asserted that I was keen on participating in the 2014 round of The Sketchbook Project. Although I don’t always have perfect follow-though on all my creative plans, this time I made it happen.

You may be wondering how this all works? First, you buy a sketchbook.

Picture 7

You can choose at that time to be part of a regional tour, or to just have your sketchbook join the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Art Library without touring. I decided to join the Northeast tour, so that family and friends in that neck of the woods could enjoy my work next summer.

I don’t keep a traditional sketchbook, nor do I draw very often. After perusing so many sketchbooks on the 2013 tour, however, I realized that many people approach this as a standalone art project – kind of like a 5″x7″ micro-exhibit – and that is a concept I am totally comfortable with. I won’t sketch for months and send that stream-of-consciousness product in, but I will plan out a cohesive art project and enclose it within the limits of a wee little craft paper book. And so I did.  (Anyway, there really is no excuse for not participating. Their website makes this clear…)

Picture 6

Once I committed, I had to come up with an idea for my actual sketchbook. Since I had been working on a photography series over the past few years that was pretty interactive, I decided that would be perfect for this project as well. This was something I was informally calling my “lightbox series”, which involved layering color transparencies of digital photos I had taken while travelling to make a new, more complex, compound image. For the theme, I focused on Cuba.

To prep the sketchbook, I carefully cut out windows of 2 of every 3 pages, then mounted transparencies in those “frames”.

1) Page with cut “frame”


2) Single page with transparency mounted


3) Two pages with two transparencies mounted, shown separately


4) Two pages with two transparencies mounted, shown layered together


I did this all the way through, for all 5 sets of images, as well as the cover.        This shot of the cover shows how the images are transparent – you only see such rich color because of the white pages used to separate groups of images.


To reinforce the edges and avoid accumulation of dirt on the white page edges over time (and hopefully, due to lots of handling), I “framed” each page with silver and black washi tape.


I added some “stories” to accompany the inside images. I opted to use a 1940s typewriter for these, to maintain that Cuban “vintage” feel throughout the piece. (Yes, I own one! I just had to rush ship a replacement ribbon to finish in time.) Here’s the introduction spread:


And here are the contents of the book, along with accompanying stories.


*  *  *


*  *  *


*  *  *


*  *  *


Here’s the back cover, where I nestled a piece of white watercolor paper that people could use to play with the layers and look at the transparencies separately.


Finally, I added some interest to the cover by applying a layer of copies of the Cuban 3 pesos bill, also featuring Che Guevara. Looking through my files, though, I just realized I forgot to take a picture of it! So…believe it or not, I have no proof of the overall book and its cover. Oops. That’s what happens when you focus so narrowly on details. I’ll have to take one if I make it to NY later this year.

What did I take a photo of? My FedEx package, because I was paranoid about it getting lost! Silly me, silly priorities.


Anywho, I got confirmation Thursday that it had safely arrived and has already been added to the catalog and shelved! They are fast.

Screen shot 2014-01-09 at 12.59.12 PM

That’s it! If you happen to be in NY, swing by the Brooklyn Art Library (photos below) and look me up! Last name Mendelson, Call # 225.7-9.  I had the chance to visit in November and it was pretty magical.


Or if you’re in the Northeast next summer and happen upon the tour, do the same!


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