Last weekend I spent some time looking through my cookbook collection which sits on the shelves next to my poetry collection. Since I’ve been practicing both cooking and writing I look to my favorite “masters” in each genre for inspiration. It’s nice to have them all in one spot. Mollie Katzen, Aliza Green, Rick Bayless and Maryana Vollstedt are some of my favorite masters from the cooking world. Edward Gorey, Edward Lear, Ogden Nash and Shel Silverstein are some favorites from the poetry world.
I spent the most “looking-for-a-recipe-to-cook” time with Vollstedt’s cookbook “The Big Book Of Soups And Stews” as it was a cold weekend. Plus a hearty stew puts me in a happy “comfort food feast” frame of mind. But the most “just admiring a cook book” time was spent with Katzen. However I did use one of Katzen’s salad recipes to go alongside a stew. I love the way Katzen hand lettered her recipes and illustrated them in her “Moosewood Cookbook”. My poetry time was divided between Edward Gorey and Edward Lear.
This concept of mashing up wildly different genres as inspiration to make something new? Well Austin Kleon has written wonderful creative thinking technique books about that – specifically Steal Like An Artist!
Anyway I combined my big pot of stew thoughts with the limerick poem form for this poem I wrote and illustrated below – which has been published now on They Draw & Cook.
I’m still practicing combining India ink and gouache – and doing text with a brush. I used a smaller size brush this time for the type – and all lower case letters. This brush-and-ink type style felt looser, more relaxed, than the type I did with a fountain pen for the birthday card – though both projects use a similar lower case. I like both methodologies and will probably use both techniques as they fit with the project at hand. But this brush style… I’m liking it and am finding my hand reaching for a brush more often.
What do you think?
Some time back I read an article in my local newspaper about teaching kids to snack healthy and to learn to trust their body’s cues about food. Since then I’ve been thinking of similarities between healthy snacking habits and developing a healthy creative life.
- Teach yourself how to recognize aesthetic cues/desires – and practice responding to them – over time. I think of aesthetic cues as mental indulge-ments; things like stories, poems, movies, music, art etc. that make you feel glad to be alive. Just like a kid has to learn how to try new foods and then practice recognizing what foods they enjoy eating. As we go through life our aesthetic preferences change – just like our food preferences do. So it’s helpful to continue to try new aesthetic/art snacks periodically – and practice trusting your own cues.
- Allow yourself to listen to your own aesthetic cues/voice without input from other people. This takes practice and no matter how experienced a person is one has to remember to return to listening to one’s own voice – rather like how sometimes a kid (or an adult) has to be reminded to pay attention to their plate and eat. (When my wife and I go to happy hour with our friends I have to remind myself to eat…I tend to focus on the conversation…)
- Give yourself permission to just practice. Practice-an-art-materials can be as simple as keeping a book of stories or poems handy for reading and a small book to write in. Think of it as adult playing. Some helpful mantras: “Nothing has to go right today”, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first.” and “It’s okay to make mistakes and messes – it’s part of how we learn.”
- Set specific times to practice. These can be very short bursts of time. They can be event/circumstance based rather than clock based. i.e. I’ll practice reading/writing poems while the coffee/tea brews, the water boils or the oven pre-heats.
- Create a small place/drawer where your practice-an-art materials are kept handy. Perhaps a shelf where books related to your art snack indulge-ments are stored. Look for and collect objects, events, places that feed your creative-soul-heart-mind. Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive. Plan to indulge in these things in small ways – daily.
- Set a habit (I hate the word “rule”) for what time per month you’ll indulge yourself – for an aesthetic “meal”, something more than a short snack – with someone else’s artwork: i.e. go to local art-openings, poetry/story slams, indie film nights, music jam nights or a visit to an art museum.
Here’s what I indulged myself with this morning as an art snack while my breakfast bread toasted:
The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W. B. Yeats is a new-favorite poem. It reminds me that we can – and do – create our own solace.
Here are a few pages from my tiny sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library titled “A. Mouse’s Book Of Scraps”. And since you follow me here’s my entire book, free download, as my thank-you-for-following-me gift: AMousesBookOfScrapsByClancy
I’m doing this gifting by permission of our books author Mr. A. Mouse of course. <wink> We, Mr. A. Mouse and I, hope you like it!
And yes, this 2.33 inch by 1.66 inch book is a humorous parody or spoof on the concept of collecting and publishing…
In a recent post I spoke of this book and of the Brooklyn Art Library’s Tiny Sketchbook Project in general well here’s a link https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/
You can also see more of my downloadable artist books on this page. Your patronage and support means a lot! Thank you!
Some twins I’m lucky enough to know turned one year old today. So in collaboration with my wife, I wrote a poem and illustrated it for them. It was a good opportunity to practice art word combinations. And I think they’ll like it. Their parents and grandparents seemed to. Anyway here’s a picture of the birthday card:
I used a fountain pen to write the poem text this time. Last time I’d illustrated one of my poems I’d used brush and ink. For this birthday poem lower case letters were used. I like the lower case style. At least for this poem… The fountain pen was easier to control (and something I’m used to) and the neatness of the type and the softness of the lower case style are pleasing to me.
When I’d finished lettering the poem I then drew the illustration in brush and ink. After that dried I used gouache to give it color. That method too was an experiment in using ink and gouache in combination.
I am pleased with the resulting art word combination and will likely do that again; lower case letters and all.
What do you think of this lettering style?
This year I’m participating in the tiny sketchbook project at the Brooklyn Art Library – my sketchbook will travel to London, Paris and other places in Europe along with other tiny sketchbooks in a portable library that fits in a suitcase. My book will be in the Brooklyn Art Library’s permanent collection.
I’ve titled my book “A Mouse’s Book Of Scraps”. It’s a scrapbook from the point of view of a mouse. A Pacific Northwest Jumping Mouse to be exact. It’s fun to think about what kinds of things a mouse would collect; cheese rinds, vegetable scraps and landscapes.
Here’s a picture of my book in progress. The mint is there to show scale. And yes – it’s hand bound…
I’ve decided recently to practice my poetry and short-short story writing by writing something, no matter how bad, every day. If there’s anything illustration worthy I’ll illustrate it. Out of all I’ve done thus far this seemed worthy:
poem and illustration by Clancy
Doing the poem text with a brush was new and different for me. It was looser and I think I like it. Typically I’ve used a dip-pen and been “tight” about it. I’ve also tended toward handwritten capital letters as you know from my illustrated recipes. It’s a text-style habit that harkens back to my years as a professional cartoonist and biological illustrator.
But for this poem when I used capital letters via ink-and-brush the text seemed too thick and shout-y. I’m now thinking I’ll experiment with all lower case writing. And a smaller brush. Or maybe a fountain pen rather than a dip-pen.
I’ll try a different hand-written style, and technique, if I happen to write another illustration worthy poem. We’ll see… I’ve got a lot of bad poetry to write between now and then I suspect.
What do you think about the all capital letters via brush style?
Happy New Year everyone! New on newsstands is a magazine, Oregon Coast Magazine, in which is a 4 page article that I both wrote and illustrated! It was such fun to do a “sketching the coast” article for them that I want to do more such writing plus illustrating this year. Here’s a link for Oregon Coast Magazine https://oregoncoastmagazine.com/.