Monday, May 18, 2015

Dictionary Art, Sort of

I recently joined a Facebook group called Dictionary Art. As you might guess, you draw on dictionary pages. Most are finding vintage dictionaries at garage sales and some on eBay. And most vintage books are hardcovers, it makes a nice art journal. Basically, you just choose a word on a page and draw and color.

I have several dictionaries at home but they were all paperbacks and fairly new. Our temple had a garage sale recently and my son was helping with religious school so I asked him to find an old dictionary and maybe another vintage book with pictures (possibly for an altered book). So this is how the conversation went...

And when I picked him up, he gave me two books, neither was a dictionary, but close enough. He picked up a Reader's Encyclopedia. It is alphabetical, but the words are related to literature. It just means that I have to be creative to find words I can draw. I find myself working on this when I can't sleep, like tonight. The Chesire Cat was started at 3 a.m. 

My first piece was drawing J.S. Bach.

Coloring on an old, thin page is not easy, especially when using a wet medium like inktense. I couldn't blend well, and ended up ripping the paper in some places. I should have prepped the paper first with either matte medium or clear gesso.

My second piece, I prepped the paper with clear gesso and used Crayola Slick Stix to color.

Madame Butterfly is one of my favorite operas by Puccini. And I found a reference photo online. I love how vivid the red is on this piece. Using the clear gesso strengthened the paper, and allowed me to blend without damaging the paper. The Slick Stix are like gellatos, creamy and highly blendable dry or wet! 

I went back to my favorite inktense for the next two.

These are all quick sketches. It's fun, and it's a great way to practice your drawing skill. I would like to do a graphite drawing and a pen drawing someday.  So next time you're looking for something to do, grab a dictionary and doodle!


  1. Some of the best vandalism I've ever seen! I guess I'm going to have to overcome my laziness and look up gesso so I can understand some of the technicalities. Beautiful work, as par for the course, Angelcake.

  2. I feel like I'm always repeating myself- but I have to say it again- these are beautiful Kari!!!

  3. Always learning from you! Is clear Gesso like Matt
    Medium? do you think it would do the same? otherwise i will have to ditch the white gesso and sidle up to the clear!