Thinking outside boxes and The Artist’s Mind by Kathryn Vercillo

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, books, Emotional health, fine art, life of the mind, mental health, reading, sculpture 3d, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, words and pictures

This week I realized there are many cardboard box color variations. In my studio alone I count 10 different colors of brown box material. So the phrase “Thinking Outside The Box” has been on my mind and I’ve begun a new 8 inch wooden cube sculpture by painting it to look like a cardboard box. In the photo below my in progress sculpture is in the background and in the foreground is a box I’m using as a model for the flap-fold edges. (A different box was the model for the color…)

Here’s some of my thinking: I noticed that many commercial cardboard boxes have writing on them. In my city’s downtown there are murals on the sides of many of the buildings. Some of the murals have stylized text on them. The act of writing things down is a way to think…

So I began thinking “what about creating a character who is painting a mural with lettering on the outside of a cardboard box”?

Below is one of my sketchbook pages related to this project. I chose an elephant character because I also thought of the “memory of an elephant” phrase. That led to thoughts of how both memory and imagination are integral parts of creativity and the ability to think outside the boxes.

I did contemplate a cat character and cat boxes … as you see below my cat made certain I thought of this.

He even pointed out, by rubbing his chin emphatically on the box edge, that his favorite box is lovely shade of brown…

My cat’s chosen box is indeed a very nice brown color – and I do love cats – however I’m going with the elephant character in my artwork for the reasons described above… sorry kitty.

“Humph” pouts the cat.

Anyhoo, in addition to the meanings of particular words and phrases as I’m working on my sculpture I’m thinking about thinking itself; being creative, being logical and utilizing critical thinking skills. Generally I think and read regularly about mental and emotional health for many reasons but chiefly because our brains and thought processes are our main tools for creativity.

Creativity itself can be a tool for good mental health. Yes, there’s a chicken/egg aspect here – but regardless of whichever comes first I want to use my own thinking processes as well as I can. So besides reading philosophy or about mental health whenever I’m reading fiction, biographies and history I’m looking for the thinking, the words and actions over time that led to the events described as well as the responses to those events.

Recently I became aware of a new book “The Artist’s Mind” by Kathryn Vercillo. Because this book is directly on the topic that is on my mind so gosh-darn often I asked the author if I could chat with her about her book and share our conversation publicly. She kindly said yes!

Kathryn Vercillo even sent me a reader’s copy in a mail art envelope that she made! It was a fun touch! As of writing this blog post I’ve read her book and we’ve begun talking! [To somewhat reciprocate her generosity as well as to let her know where I’m coming from I sent her a copy of the book I illustrated for a psychiatrist “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit“.]

About the author: Kathryn Vercillo is a full time writer with a master’s degree in psychological studies. She is the owner of Create Me Free, a small business that researches the link between art and mental health in order to educate, inspire and empower artists to achieve financial and creative success while maintaining well being. She is the author of eight books, including Crochet Saved My Life, which is about the health benefits of handcrafting. When not creating, she’s enjoying life in San Francisco with her loved ones and her rescue pups.

We’re talking together about the content of Kathryn’s new book The Artist’s Mind and the many ways artists throughout history dealt with issues in the real world – stressors like illness, poverty, war, racism, bigotry etc – and kept creating their work. Naturally we’re also discussing coping skills artists can use today!

I’m enjoying a front row seat for her virtual book tour – it’s an amazing community effort – and I’m honored to have a backstage pass, so to speak, by getting to do an interview!

I look forward to sharing our finished conversation next Monday Aug 7th!

See you next Monday!

Hog box progress and colors of mind

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art supplies, art techniques, artistic inspirations, business of art, creative thinking, fine art, mental health, sculpture 3d, sketchbook, words and pictures

I worked this week on an 8 inch box sculpture and finished it for the Caplan Art Designs Gallery. I’ve titled it “Independent As A Hog On Ice”. It will join its friends in my Figures Of Speech series for another exhibit later this year at the Gallery.

Here’s a few stages of progress…

The finishing touches were to make the skate lines more subtle and to make the overall box a lighter blue ice cube color.

Now having finished “Independent As A Hog On Ice” I have the challenge of photographing it for the Caplan Art Designs Gallery. Below is one of my attempts at getting a good photo. The color isn’t correct. I talked with the Gallery about it and they suggested using a white background …

… and that suggestion worked much better! This photo below is true to the color of my artwork!

Being willing to try, fail, accept instruction and fix mistakes is an essential skill. I even wrote on my email newsletter recently on the art of mucking about -making mistakes in sketchbook fountain pen drawings and fixing them – or as a friend says “there aren’t mistakes in art only novel ways to fix them” well here are a few of my novel ways…
https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/the-art-of-mucking-about

And yet in this social media age there are people – and trolls or bots -who are quick to tell you everything you’ve ever done is a mistake, that you should change your life and creativity to suit them, that you should let them do whatever benefits them at your expense. Such commentary isn’t helpful or constructive “criticism”. Often it’s not even “criticism” in the art school definition of “an analysis of the merits or faults of an artistic work”. Criticism in that art school sense arises by mutual consent, by mutual trust and respect, between the artist/creator and the person being asked for input. Often in social media the trolls make their unkind comments unasked, and I don’t know them. Similarly the overweening flattery some trolls dole out prior to asking me to give them carte blanc to [fill in the blank with something that would only benefit the troll]. I block and delete such comments without responding to them. I focus on the kind helpful real-life people instead. And I ask for art school style criticism only from people I know and trust in real life.

But it isn’t always easy to be a creative person on social media. It’s a necessary evil nowadays for the self employed artist and yet social media is only a single cog in the creative process – but this one cog causes a regular need to do timeline mental health preservation, negative troll jujitsu and efforts to simultaneously maintain one’s spirit and creativity in the face of abuse.

Very recently another new social media has been rolled out, there’s pressure to “join” it now too… 🤦‍♀️ … so I thumbtacked a new handwritten card to my studio wall. It’s the one in the photo below that says “was your dream as a kid to provide free content for a billionaires social media company?” I’m willing to use social media but I’m not willing to be used – or abused – by it. Thus my thumbtacked reminder.

It helps me remember that I’m focusing more nowadays on my email newsletter and this blog – both of which are not so heavily based in an algorithm. I have more control over my newsletter and this blog and can interact more reliably with real people. I still use Instagram and Facebook just much less than I did before.

I added the new thumbtacked card about social media under the card I’d made some years ago when I was giving so many lectures and teaching workshops so often that I didn’t have time for creating my own artwork. It’s the card saying “was your dream as a kid to talk about art/writing or to do it?”. It helps me maintain more harmony between the doing of art and the talking about it.

Here’s me beginning a “use every fountain pen” exercise just for the no need to talk about it because of the self-explanitory fun of it. I’ll probably share the finished drawing on my email newsletter because I’m like that.

Speaking of using all of my pens… Here’s another thumbtacked note to myself “use the art supplies yourself -and now- or they’ll get sold for 10 cents at a garage sale after your funeral i.e. don’t hoard or be precious about art supplies no matter how nice they are! Just use them!”

Now and then I look around my studio and think “what have I not used lately?”

I have a big fat 40 inch tall roll of Kozuke paper that I haven’t used in a few years. Back then I used acrylic paints to dye this paper, make patterns on it and then I cut up the colored papers to make my large scale collage paintings. After the pandemic began I started working in a smaller size and primarily painting instead of doing collage. So that thickest roll of paper you see below in this photo has languished.

So I cut off a strip of the paper and tested my various fountain pens, inks and watercolors and gouache paints on it. On my test strip I misspelled the name of the paper which should be “Kozuke” but I’ll know what I mean whenever I refer to this test strip. All of my art materials tested well! Now I’m thinking of using this paper to make artist books!

Along with revisiting my art supplies inventory I like to occasionally reexamine my color palettes. For a number of years now I’ve used a more muted, subtle palette based in the natural world- specifically the colors of butterflies and bugs like beetles. So I purposefully took time this week to notice what colors in the real world caught my eye pleasantly and felt soothing to my mind. Then I looked for those same or very similar colors in several of my color reference books. I found the bulk of those colors in this book pictured below … and the colors I liked in the real world are in the butterfly and bug section again!

Details about this wonderful book here https://www.powells.com/book/natures-palette-a-color-reference-system-from-the-natural-world-9780691217048

Here’s test swatches of my butterfly bug palette that I create my imaginary worlds with – like “Independent As A Hog On Ice”. I’ll bet you can find the colors I used in my Hog sculpture in the swatches below.

We create the world together… we can pick the colors and the co-creators of the world that we want to inhabit.

Thank you for sharing the world with me. See you next Monday.

Birthday week, a pig and books

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, books, comfort food, creative thinking, fine art, food for thought, life of the mind, mundane and magical moments, reading

Starting birthday week one of our friends made homemade focaccia bread and served it to the 5 of us friends in a basket covered with one of my fabric designs and – and! – AND! – she made a homemade bourbon cake too that was simply amazing!!!!! What a perfect way to start my birthday week!!!

P.S. my fabric design can be found here https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/sueclancy

Here’s a photo of the homemade bourbon cake!! Isn’t it a beauty??!! And it tasted even better!! Our friend shared the link to the recipe!

To celebrate with my online friends I shared many of my favorite drawings on my Substack. Below are only 2 of them are pictured. Click here to see more.

One night in the early part of birthday week we went to the Underbar with our Fairy Goddaughter who took this photo of us with the bar owner before the live comedy show started. They make a very good hamburgers at Underbar and when my burger came it had a birthday candle in it! 🤣 Fairy Goddaughter also gave us a book titled “No Two Persons” by Erica Bauermeister! Looking forward to reading it! What a special fun time with our Fairy Goddaughter! 🤗

At the Underbar our Fairy Goddaughter filmed me blowing out the candle on my birthday burger!!!

Besides all of the celebrating during the week I did sneak in a bit more work on my 3D box project for upcoming exhibit at Caplan Art Designs. I shared the beginning of it with you in my last post. Here’s the progress…

And I spent time reading this delightful book… The Art Of The Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl. It’s a good reminder of the importance of regularly letting your mind leisurely wander and wonder.

More celebrating happened, with just me and my wife, on the actual day of my birthday – we had a brunch of Danish pancakes and Swedish coffee at Broder Nord. If you’re not familiar the Danish pancakes – or Aebleskivers – they’re small, smaller than your fist, and round like a popover roll but bread-y like a pancake yet not as sweet as a donut. You pry them open to spread or dip them in lemon curd and lingonberry jam. Yum!

After brunch my wife took me for a birthday bookstore extravaganza at Powell’s! We spent over 3 leisurely hours in the bookstore! It was just the very thing I wanted! Many of these books are part of my bibliography for my current art projects and others are just for fun. However the line between project related bibliography and just for fun is very blurry! Here’s the haul!!! 👇

Later the same day there was pizza and beer for the two of us at the Hungry Sasquatch!

Afterward we walked a few blocks for ice cream at Ice Cream Renaissance!!

On still another day we met some of our family members for even more birthday-ness… with beer and food at the Loyal Legion. There were well over 55 beers to choose from so we had to do research 🤣

To celebrate more with my online friends I also shared a silly birthday shenanigan (a hand written original parody poem written and performed by the birthday lady aka me) on my email newsletter 👇
https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/you-are-old-aunt-sue

Such a fun week was birthday week!!!

Yes, there are troubles in this world, but having dear friends and family to celebrate small simple things like a birthday with is the best, most priceless gift of all!! Thank you for celebrating with me!!!

See you next Monday!

Alphapets, a pig, a giraffe and books

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, children's book, fine art, sculpture 3d, sketchbook, Storyberries, whimsical art

Both my wife and I are fully recovered from our recent bouts with covid. Just a smidge less energy than my normal but that’s getting better too. So this week besides sharing my sketchbook pages in today’s newsletter I shared a wee smidge about how I approach the blank page… even when I don’t feel well. https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/sketchbooks

Another day, since covid was still on my mind I told the backstory of how I came to doing children’s books on Storyberries. Hint: I began when covid did in early 2020 and the first book I did was Alphapets. Details here https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/why-i-make-kids-books

From the sketchbook pages I’ve done lately (see links above) I kept thinking about this pig….

So now that I’m feeling better I’m starting one of my 3d boxes for the Caplan Art Designs Gallery

I’m also thinking about this giraffe… but I’m going slow and easy.

Here’s a book I’ve been relishing one poem a day!

This mystery is just a treat! I love a detective who is a decent and kind person!

It’s my birthday this week so I’ll kick up my heels a little. I hope you’ll have some fun this week too!

See you next Monday.