My childrens book “The Professional Dog” has moved into color! Over the last week I’ve inked more than 12 of the illustrations just so I could see where I was going. Now I’m doing the same testing with colors. I’m using my butterfly palette (a post about that here) – it’s a fun challenge to paint dogs using a palette based in a scientific study of the color variations of butterflies. I have been using a few extra colors – most notably dark brown- but my primary color scheme is butterflies!
Below is a look at three of my Professional Dog illustrations together so you can see how the colors look.
Then here’s a closer look at each of those illustrations: my book text for each portrait is below.
Progress has also been happening on my holiday box project for an upcoming exhibit at Caplan Art Designs. I now have the overall design plan somewhat in view. In the photos below I’m working in my sketchbook to see if my plan has legs so to speak.
I’ll do more sketchbook work over the coming days towards this holiday box project. The box project has a firm deadline attached to it so I’m playing with it every day.
This is true now too of The Professional Dog. There’s a deadline but it’s not as firm as the box project deadline. Even so I have two main projects to work on every day! How nice is that?!
I am still planning to add to my ongoing “For Pleasant Encouragement” art print project and to my “odd greeting cards” project but progress on both of these is primarily in my sketchbook now. My daily focus is on my two main projects but I’m making regular notes in my sketchbook of my ideas for future cards and art prints for when I have time to do them!
If you’re curious about where I’m filming these chats here’s a blog post from some time ago that has a fun photo of the spot in my studio. It is still true for me what I write in that post that art is love made visible and that this spot in my studio is where I practice loving.
This week for the main special get-creative-in-the-kitchen project I added sauteed zucchini but otherwise mostly followed this creamy gnocchi sauce recipe https://www.acouplecooks.com/easy-creamy-gnocchi-sauce/ It was tasty but a bit more heavy than we like to eat so I probably won’t make this again. Still, I’ve not cooked gnocchi very often so it was fun to try it.
Contrary to what it may seem like having two main art projects with deadlines actually frees up my brain time. In addition to playing in my sketchbook I can get some reading done! I’m within whiskers of finishing “A Swim In The Pond In The Rain” by George Saunders for the 2nd time. Gosh I’m glad I bought my own printed copy of this book … it’s such a good source of creative encouragement!
Here’s hoping you have many sources of encouragement this week and that your cat similarly saves a chair for you in your happy place.
The Professional Dog text for my in-progress childrens book is solid enough that this week I focused on the illustrations. I’ve done about 12 of them in ink and have established a pattern for the artwork that relates to the text. I’m working on bringing the illustrations up to the same semi solid level of preparation as the text.
As per my last post I’m still looking at this project somewhat sideways. It’s more in focus and it’s now moved into my “main project” work time slot but it is still becoming itself, so rather that looking at it head on and making declarative statements about it – it’s just a project I’m working on every day now. That attitude helps me keep it playful.
In my last post I spoke of picking up a box, a cube really, from the Caplan Art Designs gallery. The Gallery asked several of their artists to do something in their art style for what the Gallery is calling the “holiday box project”. Over this week I put 3 coats of gesso on my box. I also did some brainstorming in my sketchbook about what I might do with the cube.
Allowing time for gesso to dry between coats gave me time to think and try stuff with The Professional Dog project as I mentioned above and also experiment with other things…
… one of the things I thought about is this: It feels urgent to me to practice patience and to encourage decency as much as I can. The selfish meaness of a small group of people during this time in U.S. history is toxic. The majority of people are generous and kindhearted but I see the kind people, particularly my friends in the medical and teaching professions, being worn out by the few meanies. Sometimes even I feel worn out. So I have taken it as a creative challenge to do whatever I can to give the kind people a bit of care. Yes, my attempts to give care via art sometimes feels small, it feels like trying to refill a dry lake by the teacups full. But art is what I can do. And I do firmly believe this quote on my studio wall pictured below. Art is all we have. It’s certainly all I have.
Every time we’re kind, loving and supportive of each other – even in small ways – we’re enabling ourselves to not only survive but thrive. When we share art and beauty we help each others spirits – moment by moment. These moments add up. We are truly stronger together. And helping each other helps us feel better too. Self-care is community care and vice versa.
As I waited for gesso to dry I rummaged in my files, and my sketchbook for art pieces I’ve done that might encourage people. So I’m beginning a “For pleasant encouragement” art prints series on my Society 6 shop. Perhaps this series may also become a book someday? Anyway here’s one from this series.
Also while gesso dried I added a few more recipe postcards and odd cards to my collections on my Zazzle shop. I have been enjoying mailing cards to friends and they’ve seemed to like getting them – so these cards fit with my overall project of encouraging people.
This week my book This Rabbit was featured on the Read Aloud by Kidz Stories And More YouTube channel! I am honored to be called a “favorite author”! Kidz Stories And More reads childrens books aloud very well and they welcome submissions from self published childrens book authors. They can be contacted via social media.
As I mentioned above during one of my “gotta let the gesso dry” times I set up my new video thingamajig and did my first Creativity Chat!
I haven’t figured out how to embed video in blog posts yet so to view it you’ll have to click here.
I’ve written short scripts for about 15 of these chats so far and my main point of doing these is to encourage people and discuss the intersection I see between creativity and good mental health. Some time ago I had planned to do another version of Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit and focus the new book on creativity. But other projects took precedence … so I’m excited about doing videos on this topic! I can squeeze a short chat on video into my busy life!
The yummy comfort food this week was homemade biscuits and gravy! See recipe postcards above or via these links: Judy’s Biscuits and Good Gravy. It was a fun collaborative brunch!
Some books I’m reading in the evenings: Death in D Minor by Alexia Gordon – a mystery novel with a ghost in it. (It is October after all.) I’m finishing A Swim In The Pond In The Rain by George Saunders. Both are very delightful to read and transport me to other worlds smoothly! Technically I’m rereading the Saunders – I read it first as an ebook and am rereading a print version now and making notes. Thank goodness, I say almost daily, for writers – how dismal our lives would be without good soul-satisfying books.
Temperatures here in the Pacific Northwest are now cool to cold as the sun goes down so my reading evenings often have hot chocolate or hot tea to go with a book. Last night as I returned to my chair I thought “this is one of my happy places” so I took a photo.
I hope you get to spend time this week in one of your happy places. See you next Monday.
The text for my newest childrens book project “The Professional Dog” is shaping up. I’m still collecting dog photos from friends but I’ve almost gotten them all. The project still feels vague but it’s more in focus than it was last week. I’m content to view it with my peripheral vision so to speak.
Dog photos came this week from a Gallery owner, a Reporter, a Park Ranger, a Sculptor, an Assistant and a Bus driver.
So one of the focal points this week was a masked-up very quick in person visit to the Caplan Art Designs gallery in Portland Oregon. The Gallery invited some of the Gallery artists to participate in a “Holiday Box Exhibit”. We were given wooden box cubes and asked to do something with the cube in our art style. The cubes are 8 inches square.
This box project is now a vague project on my work schedule. It’s much more nebulous at this point than The Professional Dog book! In a creative life learning to deal well with uncertainty and insecurity is as much an essential creative skill as the ability to draw!
Of course while I was at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery I enjoyed looking at my Odditorium exhibit and seeing the red dots indicating sales and the spaces indicating that my pieces have gone to their new homes! About a year ago my Odditorium project was itself a vague nebulous notion. I dealt with all of the uncertainty and now my Odditorium project is a very solid real thing!
The other focal point this week was my exhibit “The Old Stories” that opened in Oklahoma at Downtown Art and Frame. Each of these paintings are about stories: a folktale, a myth, or an ancient children’s rhyme or saying. For example the one with the dancing sheep is titled “Ewephoria” and it’s about the history of the rhyme “ring around the rosies, pockets full of posies…” (Black Death)
“The Old Stories” is an artexhibit of my larger artworks – anyway, all of these pieces refer to classic ideas from mythology or fables – The titles of my collage paintings give you clues…
Panda Dora’s Box – 24″ x 24″ Woolrich Family Yarn – 24″ x 24″ Long Dog Love – 11 3/4″ x 12 3/4″ Just In Time For Cookies. 10 1/4″ x 12″ Ewephoria 24″ x 36″ Cheetahs at Cards. 24″ x 36″
If you’re wondering- no I didn’t visit Oklahoma in person. I just talked with the Gallery owner there via phone. I have worked with Barney at Downtown Art and Frame since the late 1980’s and we can darn near read each other’s minds! Makes long distance projects like this so much easier! They ship art all over this globe the way you and I would switch a book from one hand to the other.
The third focal point this week was the Aurora Galleryhttps://auroragalleryonline.com – I made sure they had plenty of my greeting cards and my various artist books. I also got, via no-contact delivery, new white boards from them cut to my various sizes so that I have plenty to work with for my Professional Dog book project as well as for my greeting card designs.
Just look at all these lovely blank boards in the photo below! A vast expanse of open potential!! Wahoo!!!
This week the long awaited video thingamajig (see last post) came in the mail!! At first all I had time to do was get it out of the box and read the instructions. Then…
… later I had a very brief chance to practice with the new thingamajig so I did this flip through of a book https://youtu.be/tOf3q9ALNoA It was really nice to have both hands free to turn pages! My brain is a whirl with possibilities!
We’ll see what happens next week with this new gadget… I’m hoping I’ll have time to play with it.
I hadn’t made nachos in a while so I remedied that! Spouse and I had such a delightful off-grid sort of evening! Especially during busy times playing is important!
This recipe is from Favorites So Far – and definitely one of the recipes I plan to eventually put on a postcard!
No matter how busy your week is I hope you remember to play at least a little! See you next Monday!
So far so good! 4 of the artworks in my Odditorium exhibit at Caplan Art Designs sold! 3 sold before the official opening! The exhibit is virtual but the gallery still had an “opening night” – as I wrote in my last post it wasn’t the same kind of party as pre-pandemic ones – this opening was careful of everyone’s health. I stayed home for several reasons: I’m deaf and can’t lip read when people wear masks. Also I really don’t want to pass along or get this virus, plus the Gallery wanted to minimize the foot traffic and stay safe.
So the night of the official opening both the Gallery and I monitored websites and social media. They monitored from inside the Gallery. I monitored from my studio. Thankfully there weren’t any technical glitches. That was a big plus!
The biggest bonus of all is that deaf – me actually got to “hear” (read) what people said about my work! The responses to my videos were also surprisingly pleasant- I made those videos in what I call “living dangerously mode” meaning I did the videos knowing that I don’t hear well and could quite easily mess up the sound recording aspect. So I was willing to fail spectacularly at making videos….and I didn’t fail! People liked them! One person even said they liked hearing me talk and that video was a great vehicle for me and I should keep it up!! 😮 That’s certainly something to consider!! Possibly best of all is that I heard from quite a number of people that my artwork-and the videos- cheered them up!!
As a result I am excited and encouraged to keep on keeping on and I appreciate that more than I can express in words.
In fact I was so excited that I started right away to brainstorm ideas for fine art for the future exhibits that are already scheduled for 2022!
Below is a quick look at all of the Odditorium art. More details on my portfolio page.
I signed 6 copies of my Odditorium book. 2 of those went home with people who visited the Gallery Thursday. This exhibit will continue through September.
During the same time of the Odditorium exhibit opening my coloring book poem How To Draw A Dragon went live on Storyberries! There is both an ebook and an audiobook version that is a slightly different from the print version of my book. The Storyberries ebook has the text typed rather than handwritten. This was done for ease of searching as I’d talked about in a previous post. One page was also wonderfully colored in using digital methods by someone at Storyberries!
I learned from the folks at Storyberries that it is possible to digitally color an ebook. If you use the notes function on your iBook and an Apple pencil you can color. Also if you use an app called Procreate you can take an ebook and color it. I am not speaking from firsthand experience here I’m just reporting what Storyberries tells me is possible with my How To Draw A Dragon ebooks.
I’ve done digital art – spent years doing digital art as part of my graphic arts career in the distant past – but I used other kinds of software. I’ve done a bit of digital art on my smartphone with a different app but frankly, I prefer getting my hands dirty with real life inks and paints.
I’ve also made a way you could download a pdf file and print the pages you want to color using your own printer and real life color pencils. For that click here.
Since this was another busy week it was easier to reheat magic beans and put them in a tortilla with veggies and cheese. Given the recent disturbing news out of Texas I was inspired to try Penzey’s Justice spice mix on my bean burritos. I like Justice.
My weekend was spent resting. But of course I drew in my sketchbook and wrote. There’s a new children’s book taking shape in my mind. I’ll tell you more next Monday. Till then keep sprinkling Justice on the beans.
Unveiling an art exhibit during a pandemic full of unknowns has gotten me thinking about uncertainty in general. In the recent past of human history, at least as I read it, “uncertainty” about the weather, if a restaurant was open or not was more normal – in general things tended to be more uncertain, unplanned and unscripted. We didn’t have phones and the ability to search for information at our fingertips, no digital assistants or handheld calendars to organize our days, we couldn’t “know” in advance when a package was arriving much less know about a person. Things unfolded over time and that was mostly okay.
Garbage time isn’t weighted by the expectation that a moment will be special and memorable and perfect.
Garbage time just is.”
And I think we need garbage time with ourselves too. Times when however we feel, whatever we do or don’t do is just fine. Especially during a pandemic.
My new coloring book poem “How To Draw A Dragon” covers a bit of the “garbage time” territory, the dragon in my book wants everything to be just so while the rabbit wants to be playfully creative. The rabbit just wants to be.
Below are some photos of the printed version of “How To Draw A Dragon”. In my last post I mentioned working on a portfolio page about this new book – so I’ve begun that here. Storyberries said that they will likely have this book on their website the first week in September – but there is some uncertainty. Pandemic you know.
Speaking of uncertainty and time: my Odditorium exhibit at Caplan Art Designs is being done a bit differently – pandemic again – and who knows how it will go. While the opening is officially the first Thursday in September it won’t be the big party of times before. Masks are required to visit the Gallery and there will be appointments arranged at other times, art will be shipped or delivered in a safe way and this virtual page used as a catalog. For my artist talk videos like this will serve – the videos and the virtual page will both be used by the Gallery rather than the physical presence of either the artist -me – or a large group of the public on one evening. So really rather than a single night opening party every day is the opening! At least that’s the thought. But who knows… and it’s okay that it’s uncertain.
What I did know for certain was that all of the paintings needed to be framed before delivery to the Gallery. So I’ve spent most of my time last few weeks doing that. Below are a few pieces newly placed in frames.
Random unplanned unscripted associations were how I got the ideas for each artwork in my Odditorium series so a little more uncertainty about the exhibit itself isn’t really a problem. Of course I hope for sales – I almost can’t help hoping that – but I don’t have big expectations. My main hope is that people will just enjoy my artwork, that it will brighten their outlook at least a little, give them a sense of comfort and care as we all cope with this pandemic. The funny thing is that this hope of mine, that my work will lift spirits, is something that I may never know whether it worked. And that’s okay. A songbird doesn’t know when it’s music is enjoyed either.
Here’s me all masked up to deliver the artwork. The gallery owner didn’t wear a mask because we had to talk business and I’m deaf and lip read.
After our conversation I left my art in the Gallery in boxes. Not very long later the owner sent me this photo of the paintings hung on the wall!
From now on I won’t be physically at the Gallery at any point. The main things I’ll be doing are the videos and the virtual page plus I will be supporting the exhibit by talking about the inspiration for the artworks and the Odditorium book on social media.
This is all *very* different. In the before times (pre covid) I would physically go to an opening party. Lots of people would come. I would give a talk. I would talk to people all evening long and go home exhausted (and happy) with a hoarse voice from having talked almost nonstop for 4 hours.
It’s not the same but this year I did 5 different videos on my YouTube channel of me talking about why I do what I do. Here’s a table of contents, so to speak, of the videos:
Besides wrapping burritos in foil and baking them as per the recipe above I had a craving for some roasted vegetables. So I made my bean, onion and cheese burritos and put them in some boat shaped ovenproof dishes. Then I covered the burritos with chopped zucchini, corn and bell peppers that I tossed in Penzey’s Northwoods Seasoning mix. A few slices of tomatoes and shredded cheese completed the dish. I covered the boats with aluminum foil and baked them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then I removed the foil and used the broil oven setting to toast the cheese. With hot pads on the table I served the boats directly from the oven. So yummy!!
My “garbage time” evening reading is: Ireland by Frank Delaney, The World Of Edward Gorey by Ross and Wilkin, Making Mischief by Gregory Maguire.
May we all have some good restorative “garbage time” this week. And some good food. See you next Monday.
If you got a post titled “Dragon postal whimsy” I accidentally hit a button. Here’s the real post about “How To Draw A Dragon“! After a week spent creating cover art and scanning 36 pages there’s now a coloring book poem that exists in the world!
This is the book description:
“How do you draw a grumpy dragon? This coloring book story poem written and illustrated by the artist sue clancy shows you how.
This whimsical poem is also about how creativity works, how our creative child selves and our analytical adult selves can work together.”
Below is a look at the original manuscript.
I used the computer to put the text on the front and back covers. I thought long and hard about handwriting it all but I learned when I did Patch La Belle that handwritten text on a cover isn’t “searchable” and could be harder for people to find. That searchable issue isn’t a big concern for me coming from the art world as I do where one-of-a-kind things are the norm. But after thinking a while I opted to type the cover text for “How To Draw A Dragon” even though I hand drew and hand colored everything else.
So here’s the cover becoming…
And here’s what the cover became.
I’m especially pleased that my book layout “thinking in page spreads” turned out so well! They line up in the middle when bound! In the first photo below you see my original art. Below that you see the printed book.
Since we’re still in a pandemic I have added a free printable pdf file for this book to my “shop” page where I have several of my free downloadable artist books. It’s on my to-do list to make a portfolio page for How To Draw A Dragon and have everything in one spot.
Storyberries will, eventually, also do a free ebook version of How To Draw A Dragon and have a link to the free printable pdf too. But that’s still in progress. I will update my still-to-be -made portfolio page and this blog when it’s been set up at Storyberries.
Since we are still in a pandemic the Gallery is doing all the prudent safety measures and I’m doing my part as best I can. Besides doing the virtual page about Odditorium I have done a series of videos on my YouTube channel about this exhibit as well as about why I do this work. I’ve made 5 videos in all but here’s the one about this exhibit. The Gallery will post my videos and share them with clients digitally thereby minimizing everyone’s exposure. I’m glad and grateful to work with a gallery that cares about the health of both their artists and their clients.
On still another topic: A friend recently enjoyed getting a card from me and called it “postal whimsy”. I like that phrase and asked for and was give permission to use it! So I’ve updated my Zazzle collection of odd greeting cards both with the “postal whimsy” phrase and some new card designs. I am getting serious about sending postal whimsy and helping cheer people. Below is one of my favorite cards…
This week was so busy that while I did make sure to eat meals of fruits, vegetables and whole grains – more often than not – I didn’t do any sketches or photos of the food. I just stuffed my quiche-hole and got to work.
Despite all of the busy-ness I still did drawings in my sketchbook in the mornings and my evening reading of books before bed. Makes for nice creative bookends, pun intended, to a day.
However busy your week is I hope it is bounded by pleasant things. See you next Monday? Or before then if I hit a wrong button again…
Had an oops during ink work this week on my coloring book poem “How to Draw A Dragon” here’s how I fixed it. Despite the mistake all of the hand written text as well as all of the illustrations have now been completely inked!
Here’s how: first I drew the whole book in pencil which sounds straightforward but it actually means draw, redraw each page multiple times. I do a complete draft in pencil and go through it again and again redoing elements so the story flows a certain way, to make sure setting and characters are consistent and to create the foreshadowing. This is very like a writer’s process of drafting and editing a novel. I lost count of how many drafts I’ve gone through.
Before beginning this book I knew it would be a 32 page manuscript so I made sure I had at least 84 sheets of the same kind and size of drawing paper. (Now after finishing the inking I have perhaps 8 useable sheets of blank paper left – if that gives you an idea.)
After the images were more or less set in pencil I penciled in the poem text. The poem text is spaced rhythmically to rhyme, so to speak, with the illustrations. The words and the images dovetail tightly together. This requires more drafting to get the pacing right. Then after I had a complete manuscript in pencil I partially inked each of the illustrations and adjusted the word spacing of the poem on each page in pencil.
Before starting to ink the poem text I read through it looking for grammar and spelling. I asked my spouse to look critically with fresh eyes. Then I inked the text with an ink brush pen.
Even with all that drafting and all the editing and proofreading, even with a fresh set of eyes looking, there’s a mistake! Do you spot it below?
Yes, I misspelled “oops”! Of all the things to misspell!! 🤦♀️ Oh well! When I ink words like this I’m really focused on drawing the shapes of the letters and the spaces on the page rather than writing a word. So mistakes often happen. But 95% of being an artist is knowing how to fix mistakes! The remaining 5% is being willing to keep going!
So to fix my oops on the word “oops” I got another piece of the same paper and drew a couple of “O’s” while holding the new paper next to my mistake so I can draw it the proper size. Then I cut out the newly drawn letter as close as possible not leaving much white paper showing around the letter.
Then I paint opaque white gouache on the ink mistake as smoothly as possible.
I let that white gouache dry completely. If there’s any bump in the dry gouache I use a tiny bit of fine grit sandpaper to smooth it.
I lightly apply archival paper glue to the back of the cut out letter and affix it to the whited out mistake area. I use tweezers to place the glue-y letter.
Now it’s fixed! When I scan these pages for publication I will look closely at this area on the digital file to make sure it looks like a seamless repair. Other than possibly on that “oops” the digital scans of these pages will *not* be digitally manipulated. What you’ll see in the published book will be what I made by hand.
After all the inking is done and dry I erase all the pencil marks on the manuscript.
Foreshadowing happens on every page. There are even indications about time: at first the dragons coffee is very hot and steaming but on subsequent pages there’s less steam. These pages below are possibly the pages with the heaviest foreshadowing. Each of the “art examples” presage or refer to something in the rest of the book.
The foreshadowing is complex. Matching the characters and scenery from one page to another is complex. Matching the edges of the pages together is complex. Getting the rhythm of the poem to flow (rhyme?) with the images … it’s hard to even describe how convoluted and complex (that word again) this project is…
And then there’s that it’s a coloring book. All that I have to tell the story with is a single ink line. That line has got to be right. I can’t cover over it with other sketchy lines like I do when I draw in my sketchbook or cover a line with paint as I do when I draw lines as a foundation for a painting. The single lines I draw for this project must be clear or it ceases to be a coloring book.
This coloring book poem has been one of my most complex books and yet it is so deceptively simple to look at and read. It reminds me of one of the iceberg memes about success in that the visible part of a project is the smallest element of it and the huge part is unseen.
Anyway, also this week I worked towards the continuation of my Odditorium exhibit. The Caplan Art Designs Gallery will exhibit the Odditorium works from earlier this summer as well 7 new paintings in this series. One of the new paintings is below. It was inspired by a friends photo of her ranunculous flowers. From the flowers I thought of a rhinoceros and a dress…
Yes, my household surrealism continues…
As I wrote in my last post I hoped this week to try some of my new butterfly palette paints so I did try them in my sketchbook!!
It will be fun to try doing a painting with them next!
This week we got a few cards in the mail and added them to our mantel. I realize that I really love sending and getting cards in the mail. I’ve loved it even more so since the pandemic. Since unfortunately covid is surging again I’ve been thinking I want to make more cards.
About the time I’d had that thought I heard from Bernadette who had recently blogged on New Classic Recipes my recipe for Magic Beans along with the story of how I got the recipe. Bernadette wrote suggesting that I create some recipe cards. I thought this was a great idea and merged the recipe card notion with the idea of sending postcards. You can see all of the recipe postcards I’ve made so far here. I’m thinking these will be fun to send to friends and family.
As far as food this week goes I ate so much when family was here (last post) that this week has had small salads and bowls of cereal as the feature meals. So never mind about food I cooked this week because it didn’t happen. Oh well.
Nevertheless major progress happened on “How To Draw A Dragon” – a whole manuscript completely inked! Yippee! Next up…scanning the pages and book design! See you next Monday?
My crocodile became a dragon as I’ve been working on a new childrens book. I’ve been alternating work in both my poetry sketchbook, the orange book on the left, and my black visual sketchbook on the right.
Below is a look at my handwritten poem text in my poetry sketchbook.
I also have a 3 ring binder in which I have collected sketches and drafts of the poem text. Initially I was calling my poem “How to paint a crocodile”. My idea was to do a coloring activity book featuring a human child and a realistic crocodile. But the humanness didn’t feel right to me. And the crocodile felt too, well, reptilian.
So in my black sketchbook I tried a few more cartoon-like crocodile drawings. I’ve done many sketches and am only showing a few here in order to keep this post brief. Also not pictured are my sketches of various animals along my way to a decision to make the human child character into a rabbit.
The crocodile kept feeling too sinister in my sketches. So I dropped, temporarily, the coloring book concept and just painted who might be the main adult-like logical no-nonsense left-brain character to play opposite my rabbit right-brain creative playful child-like rabbit. The “adult” character it turns out is a dragon.
So I went with the dragon! In subsequent sketches I resumed my coloring book notion. The working title for my coloring book poem now is “How to draw a dragon”. I’m using the word ‘draw’ in the sense of ‘attract’ in addition to the usual sense of drawing with a pencil. Below are a few sketchbook drawings of the dragon in which I aim for busy adult postures – grumpy perhaps but not sinister.
Besides rewriting my poem in my poetry sketchbook I have also rewritten my poem on scraps of paper which are kept in my binder. There are -tons – more rewrites and sketches than I’ve shared in this post. Here I’m sharing just enough, I hope, to give you a sense of my working process. When I felt my poem was settled, more or less, I wrote it on a stiff paper so it could stand on my easel as I work. You can see it below.
When I spoke in a my last post of “having my crocodile project all over my studio” the photo below perhaps gives you a sense of what I mean. In this photo the papers on my easel look blank but there are pencil drawings on them. There’s also a blizzard of drawings in ink on tracing paper.
Multiple drawings on tracing paper enable me to draw a character similarly but holding or doing different things as the character goes through my story. Below you can propably see what I mean.
Yes, I know there are computer programs that would enable me to copy and paste character elements from one page to another. I have used such programs in the past. But I find it more satisfying to do original hand made drawings for every element within a book. I fancy myself as like a chef who prides herself on using local ingredients and cutting them up fresh when a dish is requested. A chef’s hand made dish is better, I think, than a frozen box meal reheated. But I digress.
Below is a “scene” or a stage set upon which my characters will act. I’ve made a master template in ink on tracing paper which I will use for reference – and for story foreshadowing – throughout my poem book.
Below is a look at some of the rabbit character sketches on tracing paper.
Below is a look at a few of my dragon character sketches. I feel I’ve finally found a balance between a grumpy adult appearance while not being too sinister.
Here’s a closer look at the Rabbit character.
As I build these pages I will do my story foreshadowing using many visual elements. So even after I get the entire book drawn the visual foreshadowing will still need to be carefully edited. But first I’ll get the entire book roughed in. Lots of work to do.
To help get me to my studio work more quickly in the mornings most of the evenings I’ve been making overnight oats. Into lidded mason jars I put some raw uncooked old fashioned oat meal, some milk to cover the oats, maple syrup, fruit like raspberries or blueberries (or both) and yogurt. Then I add a bit more milk as needed, put the lids on and put the jars in my refrigerator. In the mornings I don’t have to think of what’s for breakfast or spend time cooking. I can get right to my sketchbook work!
Also this week I delivered the artist books that the Aurora Gallery had requested along with some signed bookplates! You can see more about each of these books on my portfolio page.
My plan is to work steadily on my Dragon, a bit of work almost every day, until it’s finished. Some days only a short burst of work will happen but other days I’ll have more time to spend.
So along with my tracing paper templates I’ve made a strategy, a loose agenda/schedule, of items to be done on this project which I’ll use as a guide to enable me to pick up wherever I left off even if I only have 10 minutes of time to work. I’ll use the same guide if I have hours of time. Such a project schedule is a guideline – a suggested working rhythm – it is not a god to be worshipped or slavishly obeyed. My guide is a way for me to keep this project in small manageable chunks. Keeping it small helps me to maintain momentum and to keep it fun. (There’s even a business article here about the kind of strategy I’m talking about.)
I have already spent months working on this poem and have only just this week outlined, and otherwise prepared, 32 pages to draw, ink and hand letter over the coming weeks. In other words I am just now ready to begin in earnest. Forming a good steady working rhythm now is crucial. So is focusing on the fun.
Some sort of strategy – I like to call it “planning the mundane” – some consideration for keeping long haul projects like this manageable, not overwhelming, is important. But it’s the fun that is the lynchpin of what keeps a creative project sustainable. So I consider having fun the most serious aspect of living a creative life.
Hope your creative week is sustainably fun too! See you next Monday.
June 25 through the 28th we had an intense heatwave here in the Pacific Northwest. It was hot enough to melt cables on the streetcar. It was hotter than the Mojave desert. My spouse and I stayed in the room of our house with the ceiling fan and the portable air conditioning unit. We drank water like it was a career. We ate salty snacks to help stay hydrated. We hugged ice packs to help cool our cores.
Most homes in the Pacific Northwest don’t have A/C because normal summer temperatures average in the mid 70’s to low 80’s. Very rarely are the temps higher than 90 degrees. A strategy of opening windows and doors in the cool of morning and at night then closing them just before the temperature gets to the 70’s is usually enough to keep a house comfortable all day.
Allegedly the recent heatwave was a once in a thousand year heat dome exacerbated by the climate crisis. Whatever you want to call it – it was very hot. And it took me most of a week to recover. 118 degrees outside and 93 degrees inside even with the air conditioning running full blast feels hotter than you can imagine. Hugging an ice pack like a teddy bear really helped.
During the heat wave I did a lot of reading and by habit I continued my daily drawing in my sketchbook. But my new crocodile project (prior post) is spread out in my studio where it was far too hot to stay more than a few minutes. So the only progress on my crocodile was an email discussion with the folks at Storyberries about formats. Still some forward motion and I’m glad of that!
Anyway, here’s some random sketchbook pages created under the ceiling fan next to the A/C. And yes, besides water we did drink our morning coffee.
What do you eat for meals when it’s record-breaking hot? Milkshakes, salads and sandwiches. Here’s the relevant pages from our Favorites So Far kitchen sketchbook. I was glad I had made a book of our favorite foods to pull from because it was too hot to think properly much less be creative in the kitchen.
The process of dealing with the heat was something of a learning curve. Did I mention that heat is not normal for the cool rainy Pacific Northwest?! Here in case it’s needed – which I hope it won’t be – is an article about being safe in extreme heat.
Then later, July 2nd, there were my art openings at Burnt Bridge Cellars and at the Aurora Gallery! Fortunately I felt enough better by then to do social media to share about them.
Here below is what the Aurora Gallery shared of part of the Gallery exhibit. My “Bear, Matt” original art and a few of the prints can be seen in the lower left corner.
My original “Bear, Matt” painting was done on a beermat coaster I’d gotten on a trip to Buoy Beer. (details in an earlier post) So the back of the original art shows the brewpub logo. You can see both sides below.
In case you missed it here’s a blog post about my “Bear, Matt” project. The photo below shows a few of the prints. You know it’s a print because the back is plain except for my studio logos.
It was a treat this week, a real bright spot, to hear from my favorite college art history professor! She wrote of her delight in having gotten a copy of my new childrens book On Looking At Odditorium and her pleasure at still having one of my paintings in her dining room! Wow!! How nice is that?!
Back when her children were young I had the thrill of having her children as two of my “favorite fans” – one of her girls had even specifically picked out artwork of mine to buy for their very own collection! Oh, that ranks high in my list of happy memories!
Now this week my professor added to my happiness by sending me this photo!! In the top left corner you can see one of my artworks circa 20 years ago give or take. I remember being so excited back then when my painting found a home with this professor!
Also this week I got to sign some of my green dragon bookplates for another dear friend’s two grandkids!! That was another high point!!
It was also an uplift, during the heatwave itself, to post here the conversation I’d had earlier before the heatwave began with Mrs Perry, the guest art teacher I featured, and then to follow the readers comments!!
I just love doing the work I do and I would do it even if there wasn’t anybody around to notice. But I really like creating my artwork as part of an ongoing conversation with friends. And it certainly helped my own spirits this week to hear from friends that my artwork brings them joy!
So note to self: go ahead and write that fan letter, send that card, type that text and tell someone something kind. You might make a really big difference in someone’s week and help them get through a rough spell.
Stay cool and hydrated this week and know that I appreciate it that you follow my blog. See you next Monday.
To my awareness there aren’t many books for children that talk about looking at an artist’s exhibit whether the fine art is in a book or on walls.
I think looking at a book of fine art is similar to looking at a wordless picture book. Looking at one artist’s series of paintings on a gallery wall is like a wordless book too. But looking at fine art, while there are similarities to wordless picture books, it is also different; a collection of fine art often refers to the feelings and lived experiences of the artist in addition to any visual story there may be within the artwork itself.
So I’ve been lucky enough to work with Storyberries to create a childrens book On Looking At Odditorium that I hope will help kids enjoy looking at artwork and be able to speculate about the artist’s thinking.
Towards that end I created cartoon drawings of myself so they could take a trip (or tour) through a book of my Odditorium fine art exhibit and explain what I was thinking and how I created each painting.
Here’s a closer look at all of the avatar drawings. In many of my childrens books on Storyberries.com there’s a photo of me wearing a sweater. For consistency sake I drew myself in a sweater pointing this way and that.
I want to encourage imaginations so in the book I try to both show and tell what using imagination is like.
For a childrens book I didn’t want to get too technical about art materials and methods but I did want to share something about them. I wanted to share especially when the materials and methods directly interacted with my imagination.
Below is a look at the book layout so you can see the little avatars on tour across a page spread.
The adult version of my Odditorium exhibit coffee table book does not have the avatar or descriptions. Here’s what the cover of the adult book looks like.
And here’s the childrens book version titled “On Looking At Odditorium“. The cover design is very similar to the adult book on purpose – to emphasize that anyone of any age can look at art. The layout inside this book is different as is the kind of paper for the printed books. I wanted paper likely to withstand children’s hands.
Storyberries has a extra special ebook edition that went live within hours of this post. And I love the nesting specialness of this project: it’s a fine art exhibit called Odditorium at Burnt Bridge Cellars via Caplan Art Designs that has a companion exhibit book titled Odditorium. The Odditorium exhibit book then has a companion childrens book version titled On Looking At Odditorium. Then the special ebook on Storyberries – which you can see here for free – about looking at On Looking At Odditorium! Here’s what the Storyberries ebook version looks like at the top…
Did you get all the nesting nuances to this project? I’ve hopefully laid it all out clearly on my portfolio page about this project… but even if no one besides me sees the nesting qualities – thinking about it in this interlocking way served to help me construct it all – my main point is for people to have fun.
Needless to say it’s been a very busy week. There’s been food, some of it tasty and blog-worthy, but I was tired and just ate it without photos or noting recipes.
Also due to busy-ness not much was done on my new crocodile project mentioned last post. But I have kept up my sketchbook activities and reading books of an evening. Sketching and reading are like breathing.
So I’ll not promise anything specific for next Monday… but there will be something. Hopefully, something that encourages your own creative life or is at least entertaining for you.
Till next time – have a good week looking at stuff.