Circle of Life collaboration


Almost a year ago I embarked on an artistic adventure with three co-travellers. We didn’t know each other, but we all knew one another’s work through our blogs. Each of us was to make a book, roughly A5, with 12 pages and choose a theme. The first page was to be a page of shared images, then the next four double page spreads were to be filled by each of us, the final spread being shared, then the last page was for summing up.

As we each completed our own part, the books were posted on to the next person. Two of us are in Australia, myself in Sydney and Karen Bailey in Melbourne, and two in America, Cathe in Minnesota and Gale in Oregon. It was never intended to be rushed, we all needed time to think and plan, then there were interruptions caused by travel and illness, but now all four books are done. I am overwhelmed by the success of this small idea – four artists who did not know each other have become good friends. Everyone committed to these books with great respect for one another and dedication to making them as good as they could be. I think we all had doubts about our own contributions to the others’ books, no-one wanted to let anyone else down, but maybe this frisson added to the quality of the final outcomes.

To see the others, go to Karen Bailey Studio, Amaryllis Log (Cathe Jacobi), and Sticks, Stones and Paperstew (Gale Everett). Also, there are progress blog posts on my blog here for Karen’s book, here for Cathe’s book, and here for Gale’s book.


This is the inside cover (the full cover is shown at the top, it was several etching and drypoint prints overlaid, with images inspired by nature, the paper printed on both sides), with more of my prints on the inside cover. Page one is imagery from all of us. Even though we have used different media and our styles are different, this page has a beautiful balance to it, with Gale’s budding cactus, my Christmas Bells in bud and flower, Cathe’s peony buds and Karen’s pumpkin seeds. All show the beginning of the circle of life.


The first spread is my drawing, showing the Christmas Bells plant after the flowers have gone and the seed pod starts pushing through the dried petals. The imagery is exaggerated, but still with the essence of the plant.

Collab_circle_03KarenWebThen comes Karen’s wonderful pumpkin flower. Such a strong, graceful image, the composition perfectly fitting the page.


Next is Cathe’s peony flowers – so delicate they could float off the page.


Now for Gale – these gorgeous exotic cactus flowers.


The last shared page. Such different subject matter, but they all speak to one another across the page, from Gale’s delicate, withering cactus blossom, across to Cathe’s peony flower, redolent of the end of summer, with its hidden surprise of a frog below, to Karen’s autumn bounty of pumpkin, and my dry, withered seed pod.


And the final page, where we each added our thoughts and inspirations for this book.

I can’t express how delighted I am with this book, the generous, considered contribution from each of the other artists. There was a great sense of trust between us. This is an adventure that will take me forwards, and remain a valued memory.

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

38 thoughts

  1. Utterly utterly delicious. Please will you bring it to the Art Gallery of NSW next Tuesday so that I can have a look at it in REAL LIFE. It is such a joyful expression of life – from you all.


  2. Great to see the last book finished and your commentary on it. It is so exciting to get your book back after its long journey and to see the drawings in person. I treasure mine so much. Karen


  3. It’s so nice to see your book again Anna, with everyone’s art. I agree the actual book is so amazing to hold in your own hands and to think of the journey it has taken. I too have loved this collaboration. I felt the same, can I do justice to the wonder of each book. What a wonderful journey we have had and such wonderful friends! Thank you for sharing this post Anna!


    1. Having the book in my hands was such a thrill, actually seeing and feeling everyone’s artwork at last. I think the gentle pace of this project has been beneficial, leaving time between each stage. I have even come to terms with the pieces I did in everyone’s else’s books, which caused me great concern at the time! I have an idea brewing for another collaboration, so I will be in touch soon! Thanks Cathe – here’s to the next stage!


  4. Unbelieveable it was nearly a year ago Anna … taking time to let ideas flow and then transform into this incredibly beautiful collaboration has resulted in something very special on the pages and between you all . Congratulations all round ! Can’t wait to see what’s coming up next 🙂


    1. The year has flown by Poppy, a very full one for all of us I think. I had expected that we would have completed this more quickly, but I think that extra time has really enhanced it, and added to the ideas. We are all working on a new collaboration, a slightly different direction this time, so all will be revealed sometime soon!

      Liked by 1 person

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