Art Break Wednesday – Poetry Month, Austin Kleon, Found Poems


Happy Poetry Month!  Because I’m a poet as well as a visual artist, I especially love April.

About this time last year, with a couple of Atlanta writing buds,  I got to hear and meet New York Times bestselling author Austin Kleon.  Sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book, he spoke at the DeKalb County Public Library about his book, STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST – 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.  Ready for more black and white graphics?


You might know writer and artist Kleon from his 2010 NEWSPAPER BLACKOUT:

cover-375-245x367 newspaper blackout austin kleon

dedication page Austin Kleon 2012 RHB(I was happy that he signed both of my books with his signature arrow-through-the-head image.)


Do click over to his blog to check out his work.  He’s a warm, funny, engaging speaker addressing creativity in the digital age.  He’s also a new dad (awwwww…!) and presents common sense ideas about creating in uncommonly understandable terms.

Robyn with Austin Kleon 4 2012



He’s spoken to audiences at Pixar, Google, and The Economist, to name a few organizations.  Intrigued?  Check out his TEDx Talk.  His work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, and in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

One of my favorite things about his books is the introduction to NEWSPAPER BLACKOUT.  The book contains dozens of “redacted” poems created with a permanent marker and newspaper articles.  You’ll have to check out his blog to see examples!  Anyway, in the intro, Kleon gives us an abbreviated history of this type of poetry – stretching back more than 250 years!  As a lover of found poetry (my first publications in an anthology came in THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK – A Book of Found Poems  edited by Georgia Heard and illustrated by Antonie Gullioppé, Roaring Brook Press, 2012), I was hooked on this surprisingly rich history as well as on the poems.  Why not try some yourself?

The few found poem collages I’ve made for my art business and my Etsy shop have found buyers these past few months (Yay!  Thanks, Buyers!), so I’m conjuring up some more.  Here’s a peek at one just done – when the glue finishes drying (!) I’ll take some real photos and list it tomorrow.  I always start with a real page from a vintage book.  This one is from p. 47 of A LITERARY PILGRIMAGE, Seventh Edition, by Dr. Theodore F. Wolfe, J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia: 1896.  (Such a lovely laid texture on those pages!)  I use the real page but photocopy it to work out the found poem before I paint over the original text with gouache, leaving only the bits I want for the poem unpainted.

discarded stanzas in process RHB

Once the poem emerges and the paint dries, I attach to a prepared substrate (background surface I’ve already painted – Canson matboard in this case) and embellish with vintage metal elements.  I’ve been waiting for just the right piece to use this twisted black piece on (from an Eastern European Etsy dealer!) – it reminds me of a figure, specifically, a Kokopelli type figure playing his flute.  A prankster and storyteller, I think of him as a poet, too, and he seemed to fit here beside the “preface” line of “footsteps lightly print the ground.” – a line from Thomas Gray on this page.

discarded stanzas image adj RHBWritten out, the found poem would look like this:

Discarded Stanzas

the poet’s footsteps lightly print the ground

what was

the transcending quality of

such stanzas

divinest poetry

of a noble soul

on which

bereft mortals meditate

on the way to


discarded stanzas framed RHB

For a look at my process making another found poem collage, click here.

Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you a month full of art AND poetry!

(Thurs. Update – Listed this new found poem collage in my Etsy shop.) :0)

Art Break Wednesday: The Magic of Doors

altered book door collage 1-2013  RHB reduced with cSo, today is my birthday.

One of those milestone ones.  Others in my family are having them, too: my daughter turned 21 this month, and my son will turn 18 this spring.  (Last year, my hubby got a head start on the milestone I’m hitting today.)

This past year has been particularly full of struggles and joys, losses and new adventures.  Maybe that’s the reason for my current obsession:  doors.  The poet in me is all about the metaphor, for myself and for each person in my family.   Doors closing (some slamming painfully shut; others slowly creaking closed until you realize you’re in a different place) and others opening (new experiences and things to learn, new art to make, new poems to write, new endeavors to launch, new friends to meet…).

The artist in me is all about a visual description of that metaphor – books as doors!  What better than a book to transport us to new worlds, open up new ways of thinking and dreaming and wondering?

Hence, my newest artistic adventures.  Vintage books-as-doors collages!  (With poetry inside, too.)

door ajar with c







For this piece, I hollowed out a vintage book, embellished it, and tucked in this Emily Dickinson poem from another vintage book:

door collage emily dickinson interior with c


Precious Words

He ate and drank the precious words

His spirit grew robust;

He knew no more that he was poor,

Nor that his frame was dust.

He danced along the dingy days,

And this bequest of wings

Was but a book.  What liberty

A loosened spirit brings!


The door is adorned with a round filigree find from an antique shop, and a vintage jewelry part I bought from a European dealer on Etsy.  The door knocker (also purchased on Etsy) is a vintage brass doll house door knocker. I’m stashing all kinds of fun vintage bits of hardware for these.

Surrounding the door, with sidelights and a fanlight, is relief print I carved.   It’s a simplified version of a doorway in Dublin, the kind I got to see in person when my father-in-law took our whole family to Ireland when our kids were little bitty.

This collage is 9 X 12, in a cradled wood panel painted glossy black. I’m excited about making these collages in different sizes and with different details. When I took this to show my art critique group this month, seeking their feedback, one of the members bought it!  That was pretty encouraging feedback.

(More coming soon for sale in my Etsy shop!  I’m making them now.  Really – working on them right now!)

Do you remember any particular doors from your past?  I remember the wrought iron gates to the small courtyard in the house I grew up in in Florida. I remember walking through the gi-normous jaws of an alligator to enter Gatorland there, too.  And the imposing entrance to the Haunted Mansion at Disney World!  How about you?  How about now?

Perhaps you’re facing big transitions soon – as we’ll be adjusting to our youngest leaving the nest over here.  Or perhaps your journey will be less jarring.  Whatever doors you walk through this year, I wish you blessings as you come and go, and joy and adventure on the other side.