Nothing But Sunshine

In the fall of 2014, Sharon Mann and I started a project that has lasted until today. This post marks the achievement of a goal we set back then – to collaborate on two artist books, using our art and our words.

Nothing But Sunshine -detail woman in pocket small

I have made quite a few artist books, many of them using discarded library books as their base. I’ve posted about them in the past. I have never worked with anyone else on a book, though. Yet Sharon and I have worked together in the past – we exchanged figurines and displayed each other’s in our home towns. Doing an art project seemed to be something that would be fun.

Nothing But Sunshine -detail sun small

Here’s what we did. I grabbed two old books from my pile of ancient library books – these were originally written for children and so were pretty short. We needed books of equal length, so I pasted pages together to form a better surface for artwork as well as getting two books with the same number of pages. I sent one to Sharon and I kept one for me to work on – the idea was that we would do 4 pages and then exchange, keeping that system up until at the end, when we would do the covers and write text.

Nothing But Sunshine detail lady and stove

The books went back and forth between Las Vegas and Philadelphia several times. We worked on things as we could. Life continued on and often got in the way of our artwork, but we persevered. Since we scattered the pages we chose to work on all throughout the book, many of the page spreads feature Sharon’s work on one page and mine on the other. We did not try to construct a narrative with the pictures or even necessarily respond to the other person’s work, but somehow things seemed to flow together. When it came time to write the text in the book I had, I noticed that a sun appeared on almost every page. This image gave me the inspiration for the text I wrote.

I really feel that this experience was something special. Sharon and I have been blog friends for a while. I loved her work from the start. I felt a bond with her just by looking at what she does: it is clear that her family, her home, and her everyday life are her personal and her artistic focus. I feel the same is true of my own work and life. She has always been supportive of my work and generous in her comments. I have made a friend, though she and I live across the United States from each other and will most likely never meet in person.

Nothing But Sunshine detail flowers at night small

So these books express the tie of a friendship that would not have been possible before the internet, and yet they do so in the old-fashioned way. We have created real objects with our art and now we can hold them in our hands. The tangible nature of the work seems important, an attachment between us. It’s a cliché that friends bring sunshine into our lives, and yet it is true, isn’t it? I am amazed that this book somehow blossomed with this message.

Nothing But Sunshine plus flowers book 2-16 small

So, thank you, Sharon, for all you have given to me.

*******************************************************************

Here is the book. I have shown the images of the pages first and the text is written out below, in case it is hard to see in the pictures. You can find Sharon’s book here.

 

Nothing But Sunshine

1.
When I started out
I was small.

2.
I see the world.
The sun shines down
on a house
on trees
pink and red and warm.

3.
The sun sees me. Tells me. I hear its voice.
I hear it new
every day.

4.
I hear the sun sparkle on the river.
I listen to the rays
as they fall on the green leaves.

5.
The face of the sun is very old.
The voice of the sun is young each day.

6.
The leaves on the trees and the ferns in the ground
and every other living thing
rest in the warm breeze
under the sun.

7.
I am small.
In the garden I wait.
Sun and sunflowers and sunhat.
The earth under the sun.

8.
Even in the house
calling me to come in for dinner
I hear the voice of the sun.

– I have somewhere to go
Other things to do
But –

9.
– If you reach up to the night sky
and catch a ray of starlight –

10.
– it will keep you company
until tomorrow when I return.

11.
I know
at night
the moon and stars keep watch
over the flowers in the purple-blue world.

12.
They watch over the cat
the lady next door,
the people in cities
fish in the sea
the mountains
everything and everyone under the sky

13.
And when tomorrow is today

14.
I will rush out to meet it

15.
when
with a wave of its hand
the sun will greet me
and you

16.
Whoever you may be
wherever you live…
in the sea

17.
in a hot bright city

18.
If you are
a doll
a house
a bit of paper
a little girl

19.
a lady just waking up to
a green and gold day

20.
or a cross old woman
the sun can coax into a smile.
Just wait a minute and see.

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24 thoughts on “Nothing But Sunshine

  1. Laura (Createarteveryday)

    Claudia, both your post and Sharon’s are blowing me away this morning! I just love both of your books so much, I could eat them up! I just think it would be so tremendous and so much fun to start a book ring just like this, but in a big circle. Each person begins with a book with the same number of pages, makes art inside and sends to the next person down the line. Meanwhile, the person on your other side sends a book to you and so on until the circle is completed. That would be so much fun! I totally love this and your works of art inside these pages is so inspirational and wonderful. Really made my morning, thank you so much!

  2. Jet Eliot

    I SO enjoyed yours and Sharon’s books, Claudia. I am a fan of Sharon’s work and read about your shared book project from her blog, and I am happy because now I will follow along with your art too. I really like the sunshine theme, and the colors, shapes, choices and flow of the books.

  3. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you for everything you said. This was a wonderful project and Sharon’s work is easy to be inspired by! It’s funny how the books worked out when we didn’t try to force them along any particular way – I think it’s just how the process works, kind of magical, in a way.

  4. Claudia McGill Post author

    Yes, I realized with this project that without the internet, I would have never heard of Sharon, artist books, or mail art or collaborating. I would never have met so many people around the world who share my interests and I would have thought I was the odd one out, not knowing many people locally who are interested in any of this. I am truly grateful for that, and for also the “old-fashioned” skills of working with my hands like this, which I find so calming and giving me focus. I am really lucky, I think. Thank you!

  5. Claudia McGill Post author

    Glad you liked it. It was a journey we took together, at our own pace. Life intervened, family problems, health issues, so on and so on, but we got there, and that is what I am really proud of. Sharon kept me on track when I fell off and that happened a few times. Or more! I think the books worked because we were patient with each other and because, I think, we have a similar sense of how we feel about our artwork. Altogether just wonderful to have done this.

  6. Laura (PA Pict)

    What an absolutely amazing collaborative project. I love the mixture of camaraderie and creativity and the results – visually and in words – are fabulous. I am off to follow your link and check out Sharon’s blog now.

  7. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. We really enjoyed doing the project and found it a good outlet for our feelings, creativity, and trying some new techniques, too.

  8. Claudia McGill Post author

    We really were lucky in how this worked – we had similar work ethic, patience with each other, artistic ideas, and our goals for the project were the same – enjoy it and work to make something worth the time we spent. It became a monument to being friends. Kind of magical.

  9. Cathe

    Claudia, I follow Sharon and after reading about your collaboration I had to jump over to your blog! What an amazing collaboration, so rich and lively! I love that you just took this project at your own pace and enjoyed the process. Thank you for explaining what you started with (old children’s books) and the four pages at a time. You both made such unique beauty! Thank you for sharing it!

  10. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you so much for taking a look here. We had a great time with it and it made a bond between us. It is also rewarding to take those old books that were just going to go into the trash and to turn them into something new again!

  11. Claudia McGill Post author

    Yes. It was very meaningful to both of us. Patience, art, friendship, support, all in one place, and a tangible reminder of it, too. Really an experience to remember.

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