Saturday, October 20, 2012

New Mexico Vacation Journal

This year's vacation was a long time in planning and was a dream come true.  With some good companions, I was able to explore Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque without the time constraints of past trips.  The day we spent touring Georgia O'Keeffe's home and studio in Abiquiu, shopping at Bode's General Store, and taking in the scenery around Abiquiu was one of the highlights of the week.  The mountain scenery on the "High Road" from Santa Fe to Taos was awesome, and the late afternoon return trip via the Low Road was just as memorable for the sight of the Rio Grande valley with its golden cottonwood trees.

About a week before my departure for New Mexico, I stumbled upon two treasures in my favorite local antique store. One was an old tin watercolor paint palette, which I was delighted to find to make a travel palette. I removed the original paint pans, which were very rusty, and buffed out the rusty spots in the cover and mixing pan so that they wouldn't contaminate new paint. Then I glued in empty pans and filled them with my favorite colors. I was tickled that I could get a combination of 21 half and whole pans to fit exactly in the palette space.

The second treasure was an old book called "The Pony Boy Riders in New Mexico".  The book is one of a series, somewhat like the more famous Hardy Boys, except these tell the adventures of some schoolboys who spend their summers with their guardian exploring the West.  Although I haven't read the entire book, the gist of this story seems to relate to getting mixed up in some battles between Mexicans and Indians.

Although I am usually reluctant to damage or destroy any old book that would have any value as a collector's item, the pages are brown, very dry and coming loose from the binding.  Also, I found the treatment of the Native Americans in the book to be offensive and thought that using what is left of the book in my art would be a better use than preserving the story.

My first thought was to use the pages as a basis for journal page backgrounds, especially since the odd-numbered sides of the pages were titled "In New Mexico" at the top.  I pulled out a couple of pages from the back of the book and experimented with that, but found that the pages didn't hold up very well on their own, so I had to glue them down to a substrate page before working with them.  I then used some tinted and thinned gesso to cover most of the words, leaving just "In New Mexico" clearly visible.  I also used stamps and copies of maps to decorate some of the pages in advance.

The book's cover was in excellent shape and I decided it would be fun to use it for the journal cover.  I cut down the center of the back binding and reinforced the edges before using my "Bind-it-All" machine to punch for the spiral binding.

My friends who joined me on the trip got a chuckle out of naming ourselves "The Pony Girls."  They made sure that I wrote each day about the highlights of our trip.  I also made a couple of watercolor sketches on the watercolor paper I had bound in the back of the journal.  When I returned, I inserted photos in the blank spaces to complete the book.

I know this journal will be a lasting keepsake of one of the best weeks of my life.


  1. I love these pages and the cover you made....glad to hear your sensitivity too towards the native Indians....ANYWAY, I BOUGHT A BINDER AND HAVE USED IT ONCE AND CAN'T WAIT TO USE IT AGAIN.....I'VE BEEN PURGING MY OLD BOXES OF PAPER ITEMS FROM MY PAST OF THE LAST YEARS THRU 1956 AND SAVED ALL THE MAPS....I CAN'T WAIT TO GET SETTLED IN MY NEW SPOT AND RECREATE WITH COLLAGE AND JOURNALS....JUST SIGNED UP FOR ANOTHER OF MYSTELE'S CLASSES TO GET ME GOING....OPPS SORRY FOR THE CAPS! Anyway a delight as always to see your work and creativity and the cats!!

  2. Great ideas both. Love the old book whst a perfect way to illustrate your loce of this too...time for another trip out there. xox