Virginia Peck’s Journal III, the trickster journal
For her next trick, our illusionist chose Nicholas Wycoff’s The Braintree Mission, a 1957 first edition. (It’s me, not Virginia who cares about such details.) This became Journal III, the one you have in your hands. This is Virginia’s trickster journal, full of magical shapeshifting beings that are constantly transforming themselves.
Here is the Trickster Coyote of innumerable Indian legends. Here are imps and magicians, prancing spirit horses, a winged deer, a woman rodeo-riding a bison, a monkey woman riding a two-headed dragon. Turning the pages of this Journal is like watching a ceremonial spirit dance.
Was Virginia using these abandoned books as casual sketchbooks? – well it’s a good story but as I said I don’t believe it. What she is doing is something darker, far more powerful, and dangerous. In the female figure clinging to the backs of wild beasts we see a woman and artist fighting to come to terms with the worst things in her life.
I first heard of Virginia through her famous series of Buddha portraits. To catch that perfect smile, to paint peace and silence with a brush is a remarkable achievement, requiring flawless control. Such control, as the Buddha himself taught, is gained only by grappling with one’s demons and learning to love them. A battle requires a battleground and where else do demons haunt but in imperfect things, despised and outcaste, like unloved, unwanted books?
I was doing a series of interviews with artists and asked Virginia if I could include her. This led to one or two video calls across the ocean. I asked if she would hold up one of the Journals.
Looking through the computer screen, what I wanted more than anything was to reach through and take it in my hands.
Imagine the pleasure of holding one of those books, heavy with paint-encrusted pages that have slightly buckled and no longer lie flat, so that it doesn’t quite close, but bulges, giving you glimpses of what’s inside. Imagine the colours. The subjects. The textures. The feel of dried on paint. The crackle of a page as, very carefully, it is turned.
I love being a writer, but looking at Virginia’s painted Journals makes me want to give up words and be a painter.
“Anima”, the third of Virginia Peck’s handpainted journals, was published on December 3, 2010.
The Journal is 160 pages selling for $40.00, plus shipping. MA residents add $2.50 sales tax.
For a signed, limited first edition, please email Virginia with your address or call +1 978-703-1133.