Way of all fresh food

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I’ve been working on a large painting and posted a pic of me at work on my Instagram page. A friend asked me to explain my symbolism when I finished it …so here goes:

First the painting. It’s titled “The Way Of All Fresh (Food)“. The size is 36 by 24 inches and I used ink, gouache and color pencil to make it.

The Way Of All Fresh (Food) – by Clancy

As evidenced by recent posts of my sketchbook pages I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the life of the mind. I’ve also been reading classic fiction on the topic: “Stoner” by John Williams, “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin and “The Way Of All Flesh” by Samuel Butler.

When creating fine art I like to use symbolism that originates in literature and mythology as a way to orient myself in order to create a visual story.

In this case Butler’s novel had me thinking, as I read, of the ways mental development, new learning – like love – can sneak up on us, and yet it’s something that we process daily. The challenges and necessity of purposefully participating in one’s own mental life dominated my thoughts – especially after I finished reading Butler. I thought of how the maintenance of one’s mind is similar to the maintenance of one’s physical body.

With that as a bare bones thesis I sought, and selected from literary history, symbols with which to construct my visual story:

Lizards represent inner life, taking time to reflect. (I also remembered a quote from the children’s book author Madeleine L’Engle “Love is a funny thing, shaped like a lizard, that runs up and down and tickles your gizzard.”)

Celery, in Ancient Greek writings, represents victory and a warding off of evil spirits. Parts of the celery plants were woven into garlands, crowns, and given to the winner of sporting events. They were also woven into funeral wreaths.

Parsley stands for useful knowledge, joy and feasting. (Practical stuff of life.)

Apples have a long literary history signaling love, knowledge, self-awareness, attainable joys….all elements of life that have been, in some stories, forbidden or used to trick (think Snow White and the 7 dwarves). So I see an element of good critical thinking skill development in an apple but I digress.

Bulldog represents tenacity, courage, willingness to do the right thing.

Cat represents curiosity.

In addition to playing with symbols I’ve also hidden what’s known in the movie and gaming industries as “easter eggs“. Some of the eggs I hid are:

The cat portrait in this painting is a spoof of my own artwork, i.e. there exists an artwork by me that’s similar to this painting within the painting. (There’s also a jigsaw puzzle I designed with this cat artwork.)

I’ve waved “hello” to many of my friends – the kitchen furniture waves to my interior decorator, visionary friend, Carolyn. The cutting board high-fives Kevin, a friend who’s a talented woodworker. The lizards are a shared giggle with my friend Kim. The socks are a howdy to Frank and Elaine. The purple shirt is there because of Beverly, Kris H and Erica M. The book and the heart-art are for my spouse – as always.

Since the lizards represent time to reflect I’ve included a clock near the heart and brain artwork with a special time on it. Most days by 10:40 a.m. I have spent time writing and drawing in my sketchbook. One of my methods to cultivate my own inner life. (And yes, I post these sketchbook pages on Instagram and make artist books from them. You can see some of the books here.)

Oh, almost forgot, there’s a yummy celery, apple and parsley salad recipe that goes with this painting too.

There now. I’ve told most, but not all, of the punchlines. Enjoy!

Pets people phrases and pages

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Here, below, are some new sketchbook pages – I’m still thinking towards publishing a version of my sketchbook. I’ve been encouraged to do this by friends who’ve looked at my book, as well as by my followers on social media – thank you all!!! Now without much further typing:

Art studio supervisor Hawkeye carefully examines my cat drawings.
The drawing under examination.
Art studio supervisor Rusty reacts to the phrase “eating…”

lord of the fries

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I’ve learned that all fries are not the same; here in the Pacific Northwest the local brew pubs serve “Jojo’s”, which are often baked, not fried. From the plate of Jojo’s you could assemble whole potatoes Jenga game style and dip them in a special sauce as you eat the, ahem, game pieces. I’ve discovered that I like the Jojo’s much better than the limp, soggy with grease, loaded with salt, fries I remember from the past.

I’ve even tried cooking Jojo’s at home several times and had success! It was so easy to make I didn’t even do my usual kitchen sketchbook notes about the dish: briefly boil medium size unpeeled potatoes (one per person), let them cool. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut each cool potato in half and then into thick strips. (The potatoes are still firm). Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet with a lip. (Or if only serving 2 people grease a casserole dish) Pile the cut potatoes on the pan, drizzle olive oil, garlic, and/or salt and/or pepper, and/or cheese and mix with hands. Spread out into a layer and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Watch carefully and at the end of baking, broil to make the potatoes crispy to suit. Here’s a photo of one of my efforts (in a casserole dish, potatoes with garlic and cheese)

My growing awareness of methods of cooking potatos tumbled into current politics, as the news has been about behavior in the American White House that reminded me of William Golding’s book “Lord Of The Flies”. I checked the book out from my public library and reread sections of it. I read this book back in high school but I’ve slept since then. Yes, I was remembering the book well; the way the book depicts the conflict between savagery and civilization. I didn’t reread the whole book. Current events mirror the books conflict well enough. Let’s just say I’m in favor of civilization, rule-of-law and basic human decency. (And also in favor of good quality hot chocolate)

Anyway, my mind kept contrasting the extremely unhealthy fries from my past with the still indulgent but healthier Jojo’s here in the PNW; contrasting the horrifyingly savage qualities of the current American administration with the ideals of Democracy, civilization, human rights – and hoping things will end better than they did in Golding’s book.

Here’s the painting I did with all of these thoughts – titled “Lord Of The Fries” – I’m sure you’ll see that I made artistic use of looking closely at my homecooked Jojo’s.

“Lord Of The Fries” by Clancy – 11 x 8 inches – ink and gouache on board

Midnight in the garden of veg and cheese

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This is the fine art piece I said I was working on in my last post. It’s titled “Midnight In The Garden Of Goode And Weeval”. If you look closely at the art you can see a plate of veg and cheese.

“Midnight In The Garden Of Goode And Weeval” by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches- ink and gouache on board

One recent evening I made a spread of assorted veggies and cheeses for a light dinner. As I assembled the plate I fondly remembered the light and yummy plates of fresh veg, fruits and cheeses that my adopted Mom would make – even late at night – during our visits. That memory merged with memories of travels to New Orleans, visits to a Portland gardening store where I marveled at the colorful planters and the novel, which I’ve read, by John Berendt titled “Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil”.

So as I worked with my inks and gouache paints I tried to create a riot of color to reflect these thoughts. My paintings title, a pun on Berendt’s book, also mirrors my kaleidoscopic impressions – all of which were inspired by a plate of veg and cheese.

If you’re curious about my recipe for “light and yummy…plate of veg and cheese” look here.

Hare heritage and narrators

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I’m finishing up a fine art commission for someone’s holiday present. So instead of talking about that – here’s a painting I finished just before the holiday rush began. Titled “Hare Heritage” and created with ink and gouache.

Hare Heritage by Clancy – ink and gouache on board

Yes, this piece is a new one within my readers series. (You can see more of the series here www.sueclancy.com/fine-art )

As I work I’m experimenting with the 3rd person omniscient narrator – and other narrator writing techniques. The viewer of Hare Heritage (the third person) can see and speculate on 2 visual story-lines within this painting.

It’s a fun challenge to apply writing techniques to fine art! And using the topic of readers and books adds to the pun.

Art for the holidays

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I’ve been busy working on fine art commissions which are someone’s holiday gift. So instead of talking about that – below is access to a “Reading All Year” calendar I made, and fun socks and playing cards, bookmarks, puzzles, drink coasters and such…yes, it’s all design play using my own fine art about reading and pets. Art is for making people smile – and I like sharing smiles with fellow book lovers and pet lovers. https://www.zazzle.com/s/sueclancy

https://www.zazzle.com/store/sueclancy/collections

Popup shop success

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Yesterday was the popup shop day at Vintage Books and I was non-stop busy creating miniature pet portraits from before noon to after 4! It was fun!! Sold other holiday stocking stuffer gifts with my art on them too. My “Reading All Year” calendar was a hit …. if you weren’t able to come yesterday here is the link where you can get my calendar, puzzles, playing cards, bookmarks, prints, coasters and socks. What fun I had hearing people laugh when they saw the visual puns ….

https://www.zazzle.com/s/sueclancy

Here’s a photo of me (wearing green and black) at my popup event. You can see my portable art set up in front of me.

Most of the pet portraits I did are intended as holiday gifts -so no pictures- but here are some comments: “Wow, it looks like a Saturday Evening Post cover art!” “This makes me so happy!” “Oh my (—) is just going to love this!”

The excellent event was capped by comments from the Vintage Books store staff “I never heard so many people say ‘this gives me so much joy'”

Pet portrait project

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Most years near the holiday I do a miniature pet portrait project -creating small pet paintings people often give as gifts. This year I am doing this project as part of my popup shop at Vintage Books, http://www.vintage-books.net Dec 7th from 12 to 4 – and using people’s phone photos as inspiration.

This year I am also teaming up with a local frame shop, Aurora Gallery, http://www.auroragallery.com …. yes, Virginia, it is possible you could walk out of the bookstore Dec 7th with a small framed work of art!

As I have worked on this years version of this project I have been adjusting my portable art kit. .. I will be creating some of the pet portraits at the busy bustling bookstore. The main adjustment to my portable art kit has been the addition of the Pentel Water Brush. It is the blueish colored “pen” in this photo. The water brush stores water inside itself and allows me to work without a pan of water at my elbow. It works well and hopefully the “less potential mess” of it will be welcomed by bookstore staff

Bookstores are sacred places you know.

playing cards and pleasures

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For my evening-just-before-bed holiday reading I’m re-reading “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. Last night I read this:

“Mr. Hurst looked at her with astonishment. “Do you prefer reading to cards?” said he; “that is rather singular.”  “Miss Eliza Bennet,” said Miss Bingley, “despises cards. She is a great reader and has no pleasure in anything else.” “I deserve neither such praise nor such censure,” cried Elizabeth; “I am not a great reader, and I have pleasure in many things.”

I enjoy reading books and I, too, have pleasure in many things. Sitting and playing a card game with my spouse is one of them. Playing cards with friends and family… so many good memories stem from times around the table, after a meal, with decks of cards, drinks and conversation!

So even though my main theme for my Dec. 7th pop-up event at Vintage Books is readers – stocking stuffer gift items on which I’ve put images from my current Readers fine art series – I had to create some playing cards!  Besides a deck of cards will fit into a holiday stocking nicely.

4CardDecks72

playing cards with artwork by Clancy

If you’re not able to make it to my pop-up event at Vintage Books you can get some of my playing cards and other items here: https://www.zazzle.com/store/sueclancy

playful and practical

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One of the purposes of the Arts is to help us live well and, paraphrasing Kurt Vonnegut, to grow our souls.  I’ve had this in mind as I’ve created my holiday stocking-stuffer stuff for my upcoming pop-up shop at Vintage Books Dec 7th from noon to 4 pm. https://www.vintage-books.net/

Making a whimsical, playful, calendar with artwork from my current Readers series was loads of fun – and I hope it will help people remember to live well and grow their souls all year long!  I’ve titled my calendar “Reading All Year”. It is 5 x 7 inches when closed and 10 x 7 inches when open. It’ll fit into a holiday stocking. I’ve checked.

CalendarA72

“Reading All Year” – a 2020 calendar by Clancy

If you can’t visit me at Vintage Books here’s a link where you can get your own calendar shipped directly to you.  Hopefully my calendar will be a fun stocking-stuffer gift the other readers in your life will enjoy too!

I wish you the best during the holiday season and in the coming new year!