I asked my friends recently for ugly wallpaper suggestions that I could use for a painting I was working on. My friends are awesome and helped so much! The 1970’s avocado, orange and yellow combination was mentioned. So were weird rooster and chicken patterns and prickly cactus patterns. One friend talked about her pet peeve of framed pictures hanging askew.
Here’s me working on the painting and incorporating the suggestions of my friends.
… here’s a look at the painting on my easel in my studio.
Here’s a closer look at it in progress on my easel.
Here it is finished! I titled it “The Elephant In The Room”.
Now for “Running Around Loose” aka Montessori time for grownups! The playtime method is fully described here on my email newsletter https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/running-around-loose But here on this blog I’ll tell what we actually did intermittently over 3 days. Mostly I left my phone off and shoved deep in a pocket with a few exceptions:
… and when it rained we sat under awnings and marveled at how it can be sunny and rainy simultaneously!
Coffee shops abound… and I couldn’t resist drawing my coffee and the pastry we shared.
On the second day we spent time at Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukee Oregon. Or as we call it “the petting zoo for people who like to cook”. They have in one building; a restaurant, a grocery store (with many flours, gluten free, specialty ingredients and all sorts of foods to cook with) as well as dishes, kitchen utensils and equipment! We ate lunch here…
.. and while we were there we noticed these cute little one person sized casserole dishes! Yes, we got two of them!!
…and look at these adorable tea pots!! A jade green one came home with us!
On the third day we went for a 5 mile hike in Mt Tabor Park a 176 acre park in Portland Oregon.
On our hike I noticed these ivory-green flowers and liked the color. I want to try to mix paints to match it at the studio later.
It started raining slightly while we were still on our hike. By the time we got home it was raining harder! So it was nice to be home and reading “What To Read In The Rain” an anthology of short stories created as part of a writing workshop between kids (age 6 and up) and adult professional writers in the Seattle WA area. The non-profit that organizes these writing workshops is now called “The Bureau Of Fearless Ideas” and they work with teachers, students and the community to encourage writing and storytelling of all sorts. It’s a fun anthology to read on a rainy day!
Thinking later of things I’d noticed while we were outdoors I wrote a haiku poem and illustrated it in my sketchbook.
I hope you are able to go outside and play some too! See you next Monday.
We had a fun visit this week with our wonderful Fairy Goddaughter, the very best Goddaughter since once upon a time! We had a delightful conversation about books and she gave us this one by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
It’s a delightful cheerful sort of poetry book. A restorative way to begin and end a day. What a beautiful gift and even better is having a wonderful Goddaughter to share life and books with!!! 💙💚
Also this week some bunny made a Mysterious Mural – https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/mysterious-mural-2 It’s a small 16 page artistbook story about the creative process that I made using fountain pens and gouache on one sheet of handmade paper for the encouragement in it. Details at the link above.
Knowing how you feel, what you think and being able to talk clearly about it is an important skill to cultivate. This is true for everyone and especially true for anyone trying to do anything creative.
Creativity comes from a regular habit of observing the world and listening to yourself to your own thoughts and feelings. Creativity comes from trusting your own voice. Creativity comes from cultivating your attention, deepening the depths of your thoughts and playing with the possibilities there. Creativity, even humanity itself, relies upon individuals having an active inner life.
Basically this week I’ve been thinking a lot about how it’s helpful for mental health’s sake, to somehow make time everyday- at least 5 minutes- to check in with your five senses, to explore your own thoughts and have therapeutic conversations with yourself. Pens and paper are so useful for such inner conversations. My friend Neera also discusses this in her email newsletter and kindly mentioned me and my morning sketchbook efforts!
Speaking of my sketchbook efforts: This week on my sketchbook newsletter I finished sharing my entire book “C” and will begin sharing sketchbooks D and E soon.
I’m enjoying publishing my sketchbooks sequentially, warts and all, in a Substack email format – A.M. Sketching. I see it as a creative art project. I can share digitally whatever I’ve created in real life in a reader supported way – via both paid subscribers and free subscribers. The Substack format enables me to share my creations directly in an ebook or other downloadable format on a regular basis with people who have said (by subscribing) that they want to see my stuff. This way of publishing feels more sustainable both environmentally and creatively. Substack also feels like a more sane, humane platform for authors and artists and readers …fewer trolls… so far.
Anyhoo, the creative arc for creating a one of a kind artist book, printed book editions, fabric design productions and fine art prints can take multiple weeks or months of time. (And can be expensive to produce.) To create a one person fine art exhibit – 20 or more paintings in a themed group – can take a year. You see evidence of these long creative arcs here in this blog. So it’s nice to have my email newsletter that goes a bit faster and the dollars and support I get there gives me the encouragement I need to sustain my longer arcs. The support I get here on WordPress is valuable too – and I heartily thank you for it – yet I’ve never figured out, successfully, how to share downloadables here on WordPress. So I do my actual books and downloads on Substack where it’s easy. On the other hand WordPress doesn’t have word count limits as Substack does so here on my blog I can write in more depth about my creative life and why I created something. But then again WordPress can be buggy, cumbersome, with gremlins… Some pros and cons to both publishing platforms. The main thing I’m discovering is that it’s less expensive for me to share my actual work via an email newsletter on Substack and as a result of both its ease of use and less expense I’m able to share more of my art – and that itself feeds my soul!
And on my Substack newsletter I shared a Rabbit… more about that in a second…
To be healthy mentally we all need to regularly see beauty, we need gentle humor, we need to see patterns in our world and even to attempt to make them with our own hands.
Humans need rhythms as I’ve mentioned in recent blog posts. We simply, physically, need times when we can wander slowly, aimlessly and hear ourselves feel and think. Throughout our lives in order to have satisfied minds we need to repeatedly test what we think we know and what we think we like. Reading novels, writing and doodling are easy ways to give ourselves time to mentally wander and play.
And yes sometimes finding the time to mentally wander feels impossible in these days of 24-7 information onslaught, when our days seem so full of activities that it’s difficult to find moments of quiet respite … While thinking about that I drew in my sketchbook a pig with wings, hovering in the quiet air doodling…
That sketch led to my finished painting titled “When Pigs Fly”. It’s a tall skinny size, 18 inches tall by 8 inches wide. Eventually (the long arc of creativity again) it will be in fine art exhibits via Caplan Art Designs later this year.
Even though it’s hard sometimes to wrangle time for them the repeatable motions like walking and reading and doodling are reliably accessible, more accessible than a vacation cabin in the woods. And besides vacations we need regular mundane ways we can enable ourselves to hear ourselves think. This physical brain fact about the value of quiet and repeated motions as a self-care technique is related to why adult coloring books are a “thing” – coloring is another rhythmic activity that gives us space to calm and connect to ourselves.
Toward that notion this week I hand drew a coloring page and set up my artwork so that it can be downloaded and printed via my email newsletter. Alongside the coloring page I told a personal story… here’s where the Rabbit mentioned earlier comes in…
Teaser: As a deaf kid I had “Easter Bassets” from my mishearing of the word basket. My coloring book drawing in my newsletter was inspired by my Easter basset memory… you can download my drawing page to do coloring yourself or to read my personal story. Here’s the link: https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/leggs-easter-bassets-and-rabbits
Yes, I grew up and learned about the “k” language sounds … but I still like to think of the Basset Hound as the delivery system for treats this time of year … the rabbits may have done the egg decorating but the eggs got to you via the hounds !!
Now you know!
Here’s what the coloring page looks like. Again the actual download is here.
Also in the same Substack newsletter is a link for a book I wrote and illustrated for Storyberries titled “This Rabbit” – its about rabbits liking things – and as I mentioned knowing what you like is a skill to cultivate all of your life. (Watch out! More rabbits!)
I hope you can see how I’m experimenting with using both the Substack and WordPress platforms- more to the point I hope you’re enjoying what you see from me in both places!
Speaking of enjoying things – here is a photo of books I particularly enjoyed this week: one is a list of things the author Barbara Kipfer likes. I enjoy trying some of her preferences that are new to me. I also enjoy the reminders of things I’ve enjoyed in the past. The book on Zentangles is a wonderfully relaxing doodle prompts book.
A pleasant digression: A fun thing happened when we were at the Powell’s bookstore on Hawthorne street in Portland this week. In the poetry section where I was browsing was another adult, also browsing. With that adult was a kid sitting on the floor at their adult’s feet. The kid, maybe 10 or 11 years old, was looking, with a furrowed brow, at 8 books from a series, looking from one book to another in fairly rapid succession. After a bit of that activity the adult leaned down, picked up one of the books, looked at the price tag then at the array of 8 books and said “Let’s get them all.” The kid’s jaw dropped. “Really?” “Yes!” Said the adult. “Ooooh!!” breathed the kid scooping up the 8 books and hugging them. Big grin from the adult hero of the day.
Below are the used books we hugged home ourselves. Bread and poetry in our future! Both bread making and short poetry involve patterns and rhythms…
Here’s a novel I’m currently reading. It’s just relaxing and fun.
The text below was on a bookmark found in one of the used books we bought …it made me laugh.
I hope your week is has as many pleasing patterns and rhythms as possible.
See you next Monday.
P.S. if you’re curious about the books mentioned in this post you can find them here on Bookshop.org which benefits small independent bookstores.
In my last post I talked about creating rhythms and patterns. This week I created rhythmic art based on my real life. For example I saw a plant skeleton which inspired part of an artist book I made and shared earlier this week on my email newsletter (there’s a video flip-through on my newsletter). In my book titled “Mysterious Mural #1” I was thinking of the power of art, of books and of coffee… in my whimsical way of course. But the book contains a story sequence around a large pattern inspired by the plant. Here’s the plant…
Here’s a look at part of Mysterious Mural #1 so you can see the sortof resemblance to the plant above. More details on my email newsletter post here.
It probably won’t surprise you that my wife and I went to Beaches, a local restaurant, to attend, (along with half of Vancouver! ❤) the fundraiser for the local library system Ft Vancouver Regional Libraries. At the restaurant Beaches we sat by big windows looking out over the Columbia river watching the weather changing as we looked. We also saw seals leaping and geese swimming…
As you can see when we got our food and drinks it was bright and sunny.
Then the light changed and the color of the river changed… I find it endlessly fascinating how light affects the perception of colors.
Later we visited the main library downtown. It’s a 5 story building occupying a city block. Five glorious floors of public library goodness! There’s a sculpture garden on the walkway to the front doors. The top floor has a balcony with a garden and seating areas for reading outside but you can’t see that from the ground.
One whole floor, the 5th floor, is devoted to fiction and it’s the floor that has the outdoor balcony. Here’s a view from inside the fiction floor.
Here’s a view from the 5th floor balcony. If the day were clear and sunny this view would show snowy mountains in the distance. Even on a cloudy rainy day I think the view is pretty.
I went to the library in search of particular titles that were referenced in other books I’ve been reading. Of course I didn’t “stick to the list”. 🤣 Here’s what I came home with. My wife has her own stack!
Our library day was so pleasant that on another day I created a pictorial diary page about our pleasant day – which I shared on another email newsletter this week too.
I used fountain pen and a water brush in one of my larger sketchbooks. I find the ink wash technique an easy, no fuss, quick way to get things documented. And yes, I selectively edited when mentioning the weather and documented only the sunny parts of the day. I enjoy the rain too but for my pattern I needed to edit and simplify in order to explore my pleasant feelings within my 20 panel grid format. I also simplified the flower garden we saw and what we had for lunch. The story format, what is included and what is left out of a story are rather arbitrary artistic choices of the moment…another day I might’ve made different ones… anyhoo I think the pleasure of the day still comes through. 🤞
I enjoyed the challenge of making a story sequence that is also an overall rhythmic pattern. I’m thinking I might try to make this sequence into a fabric design. 🤔
I’m enjoying playing artistically with my daily rhythms, patterns, events and lists of pleasant things. It’s a fun way to combine life and art in soothing ways. It’s my way of practicing the idea in this story I illustrated in Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit.
I hope your upcoming week is as pleasant as it can possibly be! See you next Monday.