I am bursting with excitement because I get to share more progress photos of my collaborative project with Anika Starmer (@aisforanika). We have been drawing together in a pair of sketchbooks with our imagery centered around her love of patterns & color and mine of paws & animals. If this is the first you have heard of the project, click here, here, here and here to watch the gradual evolution that these two sketchbooks have encountered over the past year. This time I get to share the imagery that I’ve recently added to these bound beauties. I should first start by saying that I hadn’t seen these books in several months, so I’d been itching to work on them. I collected a bit of ephemera and found objects as I waited patiently for Anika’s reply. The images and creativity were well worth the wait (to learn more about her ideas and process you ought to read her recent blog post) and they were so inspiring that I found it impossible to put the project aside. Also, I am a natural born procrastinator, and so with several demanding projects on the front burner, it was only normal that I gravitated to a project that had no deadline. Oh murphy, you & your laws. The first diptych response I created was to a colourful stamped pattern that made me yearn for spring: bright flowers and beautiful birds. It instantly made me think of a beautiful paper napkin that was gifted to me in mail art. Ironically almost all of the colours in the design are in Anika’s pattern and the texture in the birds feathers are made up of blank dots! I used a fun packing tape transfer technique that works great with paper napkins or old book illustrations. (quick DIY: lay clear packing tape down smoothly onto the image, burnish hard with a spoon, soak in cold water, rub the paper off gently until just the ink is left in the adhesive of the tape, stick onto your art surface). Anika’s second diptych reminded me of mountains, but because the triangles were stacked on top of each other, they felt like floating space mountains – an imaginary landscape that made me think of Schim Schimmel’s creations of gorgeous animals laying on the edge of planetary bodies. I had come across this paw print image in a 1968 outdoorsman magazine & the color palette and texture of the earth felt moon-like to me. If we could zoom in on Anika’s floating mountains, we’d see space tigers roaming the surface, leaving their paw prints wherever they go.After that were the two page spreads where we work over top of each other’s drawings. I love when this talented lady creates these incredible all-over grid patterns. They make me feel so warm, like a cottage quilt. The patterning and intricacy is truly remarkable. I didn’t want to mess this page up, as it was already quite full and content in its simplicity and lovely mark making; so since she did patterns, I decided I’d do paws. It instantly felt like a happy marriage. I might also note that the paws have subtle metallic green and purple sparkles within them, which help to highlight the tones that Anika selected.The next three spreads were for me to start, and for Anika to add to later. The first of which was another full two page spread that the both of us would draw on. I started with this grid inspired paint pallet for us both to draw inspiration from. I had recently found these holographic cards in a thrift shop that show humans morphing into animals and vice-versa, so I cropped out feet/paws (from two that had an eagle) into square shapes that matched the grid. I outlined it with one of the colors from the paint pallet and I drew eagle portraits in larger grid boxes above. I wonder how Anika will interpret and add to these grids and the morphing humans / birds of prey. The next couple of images I’m really proud of: using acrylics, I created beautiful impressionistic field landscapes with wildflowers and summer blue skies as a backdrop for some found ephemera from the same vintage hunting magazine. Although the circles around the ptarmigans are meant to be kill shot references for hunters, I see something different: there is something more ethereal about them to me… more so of an aura or a soul. I get a spiritual energy type of feeling from the circle, not a suggestion of conquest or murder as is originally intended. The circle has always been a peaceful shape in my mind. I predict soft colours and the circular motif to surface in Anika’s response. The final set of images visits the beauty and simplicity of dog paws again. I did some gestural painting with purples and teals, made a beautiful solvent transfer onto rice paper, added it over my wet paint and continued with a few more brushstrokes. Something that I love about these two images is that when the books are together you can almost picture the entire creature! Do you believe we are officially halfway through this collaborative project (can you spot the stitched spine in the last photograph)? I am so proud of where these sketchbooks have gone and what they continue to grow into. So, what do you think?! Anika and I would love to hear your feedback; don’t be shy, let us know your thoughts below!