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
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
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
an illustrator my job is twofold:
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
Together, we chose the bottom right concept.
Essentially the top left and bottom
left are the same concept. Thumb-nailing is the
brainstorming process inwhich
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).
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.
2: When you run up against a “rule” or expected idea, feel free to break
Before I transferred the piece, it was
important that the mouth of the skull be
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 "Saral" transfer 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.
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
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).
*SIZE AND DETAIL:
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
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 assembl(e?) (y?),
but overall they did an excellent job.