Saturday, June 28, 2014

Echo of Bones: Poetry Book by Molly Middleton Meyer

  • TITLE: Echo of Bones, a collection of poetry by Molly Middleton Meyer

  • COMPANY: Mind's Eye Poetry

  • I’m on a mission—a mission to rewrite dementia. 
  • Despite what is often portrayed in the media, 
  • people with Alzheimer’s disease are not lost.
  • They still possess the ability to experience joy, 
  • to think, to laugh, 
  • to create. It is with this belief in mind, 
  • that I founded Mind’s Eye Poetry." 

  • -Molly Middleton Meyer

  • To design a tangible, printed poetry book,
    including the creation of the cover art and the digital book layout. 
  • In addition, the poet hired me to research and secure a printer to produce the book. 

  • I began by reviewing Middleton Meyer’s collection of poems, Echo of Bones.
    It immediately became clear that “loss “is a reoccurring theme in her collection.
    The poems are divided into three groups, each of which seems to echo the other.
    The last section features poems that confront the harsh realities of Alzheimer’s disease.
    A close reading of the collection gave me the insight I needed to ensure that the cover art
    would be reflection of the poet’s words—a visual echo.

  • In describing her book, Middleton Meyer writes, “Echo Of Bones, features poems
  • inspired by my experiences with Alzheimer’s disease, and the courageous men
  • and women who live in the moment, who live in imagination, who live in memory." 

  • Working with Middleton Meyer on this project was rewarding, both personally and professionally.
    I was able to use my artistic talents to participate in the power of poetry,
    an art form I’ve come to appreciate even more as a result of our collaboration.

  • DESIGN: Cover Art: Echo of Bones


    After reading the poems, it was clear to me that the cover art should be
    executed traditionally with paint and paper. After numerous conversations with the poet,
    I based the concept of the cover art on the following themes: loss and rebirth (cycle of life),
    strength through resilience, and finding beauty, even in the midst of a ravaging disease.

    As an Illustrator my job is to:     

    1. Create an image that depicts an idea, in this case, “an echo of bones.”
    2. Choose a certain aesthetic that reflects the emotion that supports the concept.

    Through my conversations with the poet, I learned that she had been a long-time
    resident of Arizona, and as such, felt a kinship with the desert southwest.
    She also was an admirer of artists, Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo.
    This personal information, along with the poems, themselves, set my project in motion.
    I found 
    my concept and aesthetic. Now I could begin the thumbnail process.

    Together, we chose the bottom right concept. Essentially the top left and bottom
    left are the same concept. Thumb-nailing is the brainstorming process in which
    anything goes. No idea is a bad idea. The idea is to let the creative unconscious go where it may. Early on, I knew what type of image I was going for but each sketch helped
    push the concept toward greater clarity. 
    We choose the bottom right thumbnail. Aesthetically, I wanted to portray the idea of
    strength through the succulent cactus (A beautiful, yet sturdy plant that survives
    in the harshest conditions).
             *Note: The more specific you can be with your designs the better.
    The Aloe Vera cactus is known for its healing properties. (I toyed with the
    image of the iconic "Cabbage Patch Kids" logo). I placed a skull within the middle of the Aloe plant.
    In this way, I was able to depict the cycle of life concept
    but through the reverse perspective of death/older age, first. 
             *Note 2: When you run up against a “rule” or expected idea, feel free to break it. 

    Before I transferred the piece, it was important that the mouth of the skull be
    covered by the leaves of the plant. One reoccurring image in Middleton Meyer’s
    poetry is that of the Alzheimer patient losing the ability to voice his or her needs.

    I typically use "Saraltransfer paper when relocating my initial sketch to the final painting paper.
    More often than not, I do a rough transfer, marking out the shape, as I reference the initial sketch.
    It is my experience that the work looks better…
    (I don’t understand this sentence) upon than directly transferred. 


    Depending on the type of medium you work with, know your limitations of building your values.
    Painting is very similar to cooking in the sense that you can always add more, but it can be to subtract.
    My primary medium is watercolor, which means I usually work light to dark.
    If you work with acrylics, I would suggest building dark to light.

    *Note 3: Screw what you know and experiment. #justdoit


    The piece seemed to be missing an element.
    Frida Kahlo's work is abundant with floral plant crowns.
    One of the collection’s poems, (not from the section focusing on Alzheimer’s disease),
    is titled "Black Iris." The images in this poem inspired me to revise.

    Black Iris, 1926 

    “If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it,
    it’s your world for a moment.” Georgia O’Keeffe

    She says flowers are androgynous.
    But I’m not. I’m all woman. 

    Come closer. Look. I don’t mind.
    Now take your timid fingertips,
    trace my tendriled folds—
    swirl them into white,
    slip them into pink,
    plunge them into my 
    purple-black beginnings.

    Feel my seeds swell and burst 
    under one moon.

    --Molly Middleton Meyer



    I suggest before framing, always spray your pieces with a UV ray protective spray.

    The spray prevents color fading, and comes in different varnishes (matte, semi matte, and glossy).


    24’’ x 32’’ painting, mixed medium: watercolor, colored pencil and gouache. 


    Do your research! I spoke with over eight different printers before I chose "blurb". 

    Today, we are fortunate to have a variety of options in printing techniques.
    It can be confusing at times,
    so make sure you are choosing a printer that believes in your project and meets your client’s requirements
    (cost, timeframe, quality and customer service needs) 


    I would highly recommend blurb. Not only is the company efficient, but they also have an amazing range of printing options--enough to give you choices, but not so many that you become overwhelmed. In addition, their customer service is topnotch. I emailed their team once a day for a week and received feedback within the hour. My only criticism is the perfect binding technique. You can see some bubbling in the cover. I would have preferred a more flush assemble job, but overall product result is beautiful.