Granby: Artist wants public to know " anyone can do it
May 23, 2008
Artist Suzie Royce Cruse is gaining local attention as a display of her tiny books at the Granby Library comes to a close and her pet portrait projects continue to grow.
Her exhibit of small artist’s books was on display at the library, beginning in April.
The series of miniature “box books” were inspired by the lyrics to some of her favorite songs, she said. One of them, called “Lovely Little Sparrow” was inspired by an old Simon and Garfunkel song.
The materials she combines for them are most likely things headed for the trash that are given a second life.
“I like to collect things I can recycle or things that can be made into something else,” she said. “I enjoy putting things together that don’t exactly match.”
For what she calls “practical art,” she uses things like junk mail, old ribbons, fabric, paint and stamps. She also makes mosaics with leftover tiles and stone. Most of her frames are finds from garage sales or thrift stores that she repairs and paints.
For years, the artist was interested in paper making and while teaching paper crafts she discovered a process that altered books. The process takes an “unloved” book and makes it into a journal or a story using a variety of methods like sanding,
painting, tearing and sewing to transform the new book.
It helps, she said, that she is a librarian ” she can get her hands on damaged or out-of-date books easily.
“It’s so easy ” anyone can do it,” she said, adding that she joined the International Society of Altered Book Artists in 2004 and is constantly inspired by artists through that venue.
She has always been interested in handmade books, especially methods of bookbinding. She even took a medieval bookbinding class and did a practicum at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Norlin Library Rare Books Room. The latter experience, she said, “opened my eyes to the history and intricacies of small books.”
Her pet portrait business began with the adoption of her first dog, Blue, from the Grand County Animal Shelter. Feeling like a new mom, she “started photographing her like crazy,” Cruse said. “Luckily, she is a ham.”
“I like things with character and a story,” she said, adding that she also loves digital photography and manipulation. She said she’s not much of an illustrator, so she turns the photos into “photo drawings.” The possibilities with photo manipulation expanded her opportunities and she uses four different programs like Photoshop to artistically alter the images.
A second shelter dog, Mojo, was added to the Cruse family and Suzie said that was when she began working with different types of colors and textures with the photos she took. She charges $50 per portrait for a 5×7 with nice frame, but most are done for fundraisers, especially for the Grand County Animal Shelter. Some take a day, others can take up to a few months and she estimates she’s done about 30.
“Of course, about 10 of them are of my own dogs,” she said.
Cruse trained as a graphic artist but said she’s never worked as one. She mostly donates logos and T-shirt designs she creates for local organizations for free. An example is the image of a border collie she donated to Grand County Pet Pals, Inc. to use as the annual Doggie Drag logo. (As the organization’s vice president, she wanted to remind everyone that this year’s GC Pet Pals, Inc. T-shirt design contest for the 2008 Doggie Drag fundraiser is going on right now. Information is available at http://www.gcpetpals.org.)
The artist said she’s happier than she’s ever been and that her next experiment will be working with a combination of canvas, clay and glass. She thinks her focus will be on what inspires her about living in the mountains. She’s also contemplating
teaching a class through the library about altering or making books.
She hopes those who see her work come away from it knowing that anyone can enjoy “playing” with art.
“Most people are quite creative,” she said.