Sunday, August 18, 2013

Africa for Amira

Win Dinn sands and gessos over the pages of recycled, children's board books. Last year, while visiting her in Creston, B.C., she presented me with one such blank book, inviting me to cover the pages anew.  In her studio I got as far as painting (but not embellishing) the front and back covers.  I also painted the background colour on a couple of layouts (two-page spreads) and added the landscape image (a magazine clipping) on the first layout. Beyond that, the project sat untouched for months, but I always knew the book would be about Africa.

In order to enter Africa for Amira to the artist-created book exhibition, TURNING THE PAGE, at Sunny Raven Gallery (Canmore) I had to finish it before July 4th. This also meant that the book would be ready to gift to Amira (her parent's really) during their visit to Alberta this summer.

Cover, copper lion, fusible fibers and hand painted lettering

Knowing how much I love copper, Kari Lelek purchased a retro copper tooling set for me at a garage sale. Online, I could find no reference to my 1955 The Coppersmith kit manufactured by Aurora Plastics but the company appears to be having a revival with their other model toys!

There was a roll of heavy copper sheeting included in the set along with three black, plastic templates, a lion, an elephant and a Scarlet O'Hara style, dressed, female figure. The lion was already worked into the copper relief shape. I did the elephant.

The first layout/spread with a print of my LOVELY LIONESS oil, magazine clipping and scrap booking paper

Because it is my book, and I'm a lover of the big cats, I featured them and other African wildlife which I consider attractive. No apes, warthogs, hippos or rhinos!  

Our daughter, Laura, and her husband, Adam live in Maryland, USA. This past May, on a visit to them, we viewed our son-in-law's photos from his recent trip to South Africa. My book was always intended for their daughter, Amira. Armed with Adam's images, I came home inspired to finish it; excited over knowing it would have special meaning now that it was to include her father's images.

Second layout features Adam's zebra photo on the right.  The close-up is a borrowed-from-the-Internet-image  

Second layout with the flip-out open revealing marbled paper which Laura brought home from Florence and Adam's zebra photograph

Third layout has prints of my oils; of THE ENTIRE PRIDE (a detail) and MAGNIFICENT IZU, plus a National Geographic clipping

Adam's photo graces the fourth (centre) layout.  Insets are a magazine clipping and a cut-out, rubber stamped giraffe head

Fifth layout ... my favourite

The fifth spread has a print of my SPOTS IN MOTION oil and an art catalogue clipping of another painter's work on a background of gift wrap. The same paper that, in 2000, I wrapped all of Laura's Christmas presents with, knowing full well how much she dislikes animal prints!

The fifth layout with its flip-up revealing a print of my oil, FIERY GLARE

Sixth layout; copper elephant, catalogue/magazine images and Adam's elephant photograph 

Seventh and final layout; Adam's giraffe photo, cheetah images from National Geographic and an art catalogue

Seventh and final layout flip-up reveals an antiqued map of Africa (scrap book paper) and Adam's impala photo

Back cover with description and dedication

I present AFRICA FOR AMIRA to Amira, and her parents, August 7th, 2013


  1. What a beautiful post, Alice, and Amira is one very lucky young lady!

    Your comment about wrapping Laura's gifts in print because she hates them reminds me of my own Mom, buying me a hugely expensive limited edition cow print sweatshirt, for the very same reason!

    We are a strange bunch, we humans!!!!!

    1. Thanks Win. I guess some of us have an antagonist nature! You must admit though that disposable paper is wiser than an expensive cow shirt! Plus it really is very pretty paper!

  2. Thats just incredible Alice! What a lucky little girl Amira is! You can see the love on each and every page... <3

  3. What a wonderful gift Alice! The book looks beautiful, a gift to be treasured.