Art events are collaborative acts of community. I hold on to that thought whenever I’m tired as I am now prior to an art opening. I focus on the fact that while I might be a visible part of my upcoming art exhibit I am just one part: there’s the Burnt Bridge Cellars winery and all of the local people who have made the wines, there’s the chef who’ll make the dinner, the musicians who’ll play, there’s the Caplan Art Designs Gallery who organizes things and there are my friends and the public who will come and eat and drink and look at my art. Then there are extended friends who can’t come in person to the exhibit but who will read and comment and share my artwork online. This is a large community of whom I am honored to be an active part! We are all doing this fun thing together! That thought sustains me as I finish packing up the artwork for delivery on Tuesday and as I create one of the last videos and the webpage that the gallery, the winery and my friends can use to share the fun!
Here’s one of the boxes full of my artwork.
Here’s the most recent video in which I talk about what inspired my exhibit.
Anyhoo, all of this reminds me of the similarities between beetles and artists which I wrote about in a recent newsletter. To sum up the newsletter briefly: beetles work towards the health of our soil and artists work towards the health of our society.
To relax and restore myself I’ve been playing with my art supplies with no thoughts of anything beyond having fun. We got new inks from the Birmingham Pen Company and had a lot of fun playing! https://www.birminghampens.com/
This is one of the books I’m enjoying reading in the evenings.
I haven’t had much time to try new cooking methods but my rice cooker has gotten quite a yummy workout. I have tried numerous “new to me” recipes that are variations on rice plus vegetables plus herbs and spices themes. To save some time occasionally I’ve used frozen chopped vegetables and canned beans. I’ve really appreciated the toss everything into the rice cooker press the cook button and walk away aspect of using a rice cooker. That has made meals easy and has sustained us.
While my overworked rice cooker has given us some tasty meals I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what the chef makes during my opening! I’m especially looking forward to seeing everyone in person and reading your comments online! Thank you in advance!
I’m posting this blog early this week as Monday is Memorial Day. I’ll leave you with a poppy…
I hope your week is pleasant! See you next Monday!
The exercise of writing an art statement for my upcoming art exhibit “Figures Of Speech” has me reaching for essays by Wendell Berry and thinking of the ways poetry can evoke many thoughts and feelings in a few lines.
My upcoming art exhibit is titled Figures Of Speech and the title is itself a description of what my exhibit is about. I know exactly what inspired all of the individual artworks too but writing brief, succinct words about an entire visual art exhibit, a non-verbal artifact of my living and being over this last year, is quite a challenge. In trying to do it I’m reminded of the koan “what is the sound of one hand clapping”. 🤣 Anyway, I need to write something clear and accessible that puts all 22 of my paintings into a context for a public that probably hasn’t gone to art school and perhaps isn’t primarily there for the art. My exhibit will be held in a winery so my statement needs to be short enough to be read quickly while the wine is poured and friends are arriving. So thinking about an art statement like a brief poem – a haiku even – helps me to write it.
As I begin to write an art statement I pay attention to page 179 in Standing By Words … “One of the uses of poetry is to reveal and articulate and preserve the necessary connections between the domestic and the wild”. So I focus on the connection between what inspired me, what the exhibit topic is, why I did it…and my audience.
Here’s what I wrote:
Of course I didn’t write my statement in any poetry format I just used the idea of poetry as a way of keeping my statement simple and close to the direct connections between the things I want to share and who I’m sharing with. Hopefully someone reading my statement will become curious about my art. Or hopefully someone looking at my art will seek further insight and will find it in my statement.
Fortunately, because this is a home game so to speak, I don’t need to add much within the statement itself about who I am. I’ve been doing these exhibits at the winery annually for more than 10 years now. I’m a known suspect 🤣 so my name, my website and the Caplan Art Designs Gallery website suffice.
Over on my email newsletter as well as here on this blog I can tell a bit more about the artwork and my thinking because people are primarily reading instead of, as they are in the busy boisterous winery, focusing on meeting friends, drinking wine and eating dinner. I fully intend my art to be a pleasant backdrop for all of that! This is one of the things art is for!! If someone views my art at the winery and has more questions beyond what my art statement says – there will also be a tag with my website, my email newsletter and the Caplan Art Designs Gallery contact information. Plus each painting will have a wall lable with the painting title, media and price.
Here’s one of the first newsletters showing my sketchbook page, the finished artwork along with more descriptions of my thought process from me. I’m planning to share more of these kind of newsletters between now and when the exhibit opens June 2nd… so that there’s both something for the physical exhibit goers to find online if they want more info and a way to share my exhibit with friends wherever they are in the world. I’ve taken it as a personal challenge to create art exhibits for a specific physical location *and* as a multimedia exhibit that extends beyond that one place.
BTW: Here’s what one of my work tables looks like while I’m framing one of my artworks.
Hello, art studio supervisor dachshund interrupting here with an important message – I’ve been monitoring the progress Sue Clancy has made at filling these boxes with framed fine art for the upcoming art exhibit in June/July at the winery www.burntbridgecellars.com – and things are going so well that I’m gonna take the artist outside for a short walk now. Like right now okay? Thank you.
She’ll see you next Monday. Dachshund done and we gotta go!
This was the first Mother’s Day without my adopted Mom as she died last year. This month is also the month my adopted Dad died just days after sending us a box of books by mail. So it’s been rough. Also I’m very busy working on an art exhibit. So I’ve mostly been offline away from social media doing work stuff and generally taking care of myself.
Here’s a sketchbook page in which I list a few the the things I learned from Mom.
Because it felt good to do it I put a downloadable ebook version of “Pembral Forgets” on my email newsletter. It’s a book I illustrated that Steve Tubbs wrote about fall leaves, good food and a boy who forgets something important but is loved anyway. Here’s the link https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/pembral-forgets
I had dedicated my part of this book to my adopted Mom and she did get to see it!
This week we did take a books and beers break and joked that it was brought to us by the letter V – a local bookstore Vintage Books and a local brewery Victor 23.
My adopted Dad always insisted on having his beer in a glass. So in his honor we too insist on a glass!
I stayed up late several nights reading a novel “Rejoice” by Steven Erickson and would spend all day reading it if I only could. I’m absolutely loving the plot scenario of outer space beings who have made it impossible for any human on Earth to cause harm to another human …
Wow! It’s the perfect read for this difficult weekend.
Now to work on paperwork and framing for my upcoming art exhibit …
I’m emulating the bunnies in my recent paintings and artist books and taking a short social media break. I’m busy getting ready for upcoming art exhibits via Caplan Art Designs. I do plan to release a special artist book this week on my email newsletter A.M. Sketching but otherwise if I have any spare time I’m going to read books and cook something. Thank you for your support and encouragement. I’ll be back soon.
Here’s an advance peek at new paintings…
There’s a bunny taking a break in this recent artist book…
There’s a bunny taking a break in this artist book too…
I hope you’ll also have a break whenever you need one!
This week we took care of 2 dogs belonging to our extended family thus bringing our inhouse pet count up to 2 dachshunds 1 chihuahua Jack Russell mix and 1 cat. Everyone got along peacefully at “Camp Rusty” playing and sleeping together.
Well, the cat did his own thing but wasn’t upset by the extra dogs. In fact I think the cat enjoyed watching them from a window. And one of the dogs enjoyed watching the cat watch the dogs. It was all very meta as they used to say in literature class.
Given all the doggy focus this week I read doggy related poems.
Here’s one I particularly enjoyed.
I got extra canine support this week when I shared my sketchbook on my email newsletter.
My fine art projects for upcoming exhibitions were adjusted so I could more easily work in short bursts around what the dogs needed. As you can see in this video all I have to do is put the cap back on my fountain pen.
Here’s the finished painting. I’ve titled it “Genus: Doodlebug Species: Yellow Short Line Beetle”
All that time I spent in the biological zoological illustration trenches came in handy when drawing the beetle! 🤣
We sat outside on our patio a lot so the dogs could play in the yard during a rare week of Pacific Northwest sunshine. Besides my portable lap sized art projects mentioned above I read books! Besides the book of dog poems here’s two of the titles I’m reading alongside a cold beer and a pitcher of water.
I’m continually amazed at how similar visual pattern construction is to writing poetry – including the rhythm design scheme “a b a b” and so forth. I’m also still enthralled by how fine art exhibit plotting is so similar to story construction.
And I’m sure you noticed that all 3 of the above books fit into my ongoing Ray Bradbury Reading Program in which I’m reading one poem, one short story and one essay per day. This reading program is easy to adjust around doggy needs too.
The novel I’m reading before bed is one I’ve read before and is a favorite! I picked it because this week had enough challenges without adding a challenging new novel to the mix. So I picked a novel for the spirit lift (pun fully intended) in it.
In the above novel there is a party in which several people take turns singing a “port a beul”. So I looked online for examples to listen to while I read. This was a favorite! 👇
Saturday was Independent Bookstore Day so I did this drawing in honor of my local independent bookstores which have provided so many damn good books for me to read!!
Did you notice that my cat book buyer drawing is in a 4-beat “a, b, a, b” form?
Anyhoo, I hope your week is filled with many good things too.
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.
I recently read “Hare Brain Tortoise Mind” by Guy Claxton and was reminded of how rhythmic things like weeding a garden or doodling can be calming to the human mind. This physical neurological response to “uniformly random rhythms” is also part of the human reaction to rhythms in songs, poetry or prose – we respond neurologically to refrains and repeated patterns, with variations, in all of the arts.
I include cooking here – it too is one of the fine art forms that has comforting rhythms both for the person stirring the stew and for the person eating. I think of how soothing it is for a small child to be held and rocked – what if all of the human fine arts are basically rhythms that can hold “rock” and soothe our physical brains?
So I’ve been thinking more about rhythmic patterns in my own creative efforts. I’ve begun doing doodlebugs… and other projects that involve “uniformly random rhythms” of patterns. I’m also making some changes to my morning sketchbook sessions that involve making more patterns.
As you know things that encourage good mental health skills are important to me and if I can foster my own mental health via rhythmic pattern creativity – and by sharing my work perhaps help others too – that seems a worthy artistic goal.
Here’s a doodlebug I did in my sketchbook and a fabric pattern I made from it.
Recently someone sent me some photos of one of my wallpaper designs that they applied to their kitchen island. They were pleased and said it was “just the whimsy we were looking for”! I’m glad they were pleased!! I’ve learned in the process that grids are fun ways to make visual rhythms!
Here’s a painting I finished this week that I’ve titled “This Little Piggy”. It was inspired by the nursery rhyme: (please note the rhythms) “This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. This little pig cried wee, wee, wee all the way home.” As you can see in my painting below I also repeated visual rhythms, like the rhyme, and did a few playful alterations.
In the video below is a look inside my studio at “This Little Piggy” – I created using ink, gouache and color pencils many of the supplies you’ll see briefly in the video. It will join my other paintings for exhibits later this year via Amy Biederman Caplan at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery. www.caplanartdesigns.com
In my email newsletter this week I shared my “This Little Piggy” painting and I’ve been sharing my sketchbook pages. I’ve finished sketchbooks C and D and am working on E currently. The doodlebug image above is in book “D”.
This book is my current evening and weekend reading. It has a library in it that is dedicated to poetry… be still my heart!
And because I like to share particularly good things: here’s a link to a good recipe for LENTIL CHILI along with my additional notes and variations: Add a can of roasted chilies and use chicken or veg broth or water (whatever available/handy). Add cumin, dark cocoa, Mexican oregano, chili powder, salt, pepper – cook 30 or more mins on simmer, stir often and add more broth or water if needed. Variation: add a chopped carrot, frozen corn and or chopped bell pepper
And look at the rhythmic visual pattern of the beans in my cookpot too!!
I hope your week forms a pleasant daily rhythm for you.