I’m fascinated by language and have been for as long as I can remember. As a deaf child I would marvel when people who had very good hearing didn’t listen. I got curious when people used cliches and other slogans or phrases while seemingly unaware of what they meant. Hearing and using language were things I struggled hard with during my elementary school years full of speech therapy. It was difficult for the younger me to imagine anyone being so casual, even unthinking, with hearing and language.
Of course now as an adult I understand being busy and not paying attention when someone is talking. I’ve done that. As an adult now I also understand how we form habits of speech, hearing and using phrases without consciously thinking about what they mean. I’ve done that too. It’s easy to fall into wellworn ruts of habitual actions and attitudes.
These sorts of thoughts are what inspired all of the 25 artworks I’ve created for my upcoming exhibit at Caplan Art Designs titled “Figures of Speech“. I’ve taken common phrases and played with them and their meanings.
For example I painted an 8 inch wooden block to look like a cardboard box. The appearance of cardboard signifys our mundane life. One can read colorful handpainted letters around the 8 inch faux-cardboard box ending at the elephant character who is still in the process of painting the letters. This signifys our ongoing ability to look at and think about the mundane in new, more colorful, ways. In real life an elephant is much larger than a cardboard box – by humorously playing with scales and sizes I’m referring to how easy it is to forget that we humans have the power to choose our habits. My 3d sculpture is titled “Thinking Outside The Box” and will be part of my exhibit.
One of the many ways we can regularly think outside our habitual boxes, besides by reading widely, is to travel. My wife and I took a train trip to Seattle WA this week. Here’s a link to my newsletter about our adventures along with photos and my sketchbook pages that I did during our travels.
Below is our box loving cat during one of his outside-the-box moments near a window at home.
I hope your week is pleasant and is as much in or outside of boxes as you prefer.
This week I packed and delivered 25 of my artworks to the Caplan Art Designs Gallery for my upcoming Figures Of Speech exhibit which opens Oct 5 and will run until November. After my one-person exhibit finishes my art will become part of the ongoing Gallery group exhibits.
Here’s what my studio looked like prior to delivering it all.
Here’s Amy, the gallery owner, and I holding some of my art. Amy holds my framed painting “This Little Piggy” and I’m holding my sculpture “Independent As A Hog On Ice”
Amy has a really good “art easel side” manner and we chatted during delivery about the artwork I’d just brought and more generally about my artistic direction. She’s a very good coach, supportive while also giving gentle guidance that inspires me to make more art! I’m very lucky and I know it!
Here are some videos about the art we’re holding in the photo above…
Over on my email newsletter I shared more about my painting Ducks In A Row. Since I began sharing about it here on my blog last week here’s the rest of the story so to speak.
As a reward for getting this far with my Figures Of Speech exhibit my wife and I went to a local used bookstore…
… where I got some suspense novels! I’m going to take a few days to read and rest then I’ll get back to helping promote my exhibit as well as doing more drawing and painting!
I hope your week is pleasant. See you next Monday.
I’m in the home stretch for my upcoming art exhibit at Caplan Art Designs which opens October 5th! There are 22 paintings, 2 sculptures by me that are ready now. Number 25 is in progress more on that in a sec…
Besides creating the artwork itself I photographed each piece for the Gallery’s promotional uses. This week I did more photos of one of my 3d sculptures (8 inch cube) that I’ve titled “Independent As A Hog On Ice”. These photos below show the colors better than the post I did about “Independent As…” when I first finished it.
I’m in this video working on piece number 25 for my exhibit. I’ll title this painting “Ducks In A Row” when I’m finished.
Here below are photos of things in nature where I live in the Pacific Northwest that inspired my new color palette mentioned in my newsletter.
I enjoyed looking at the grey-blue sky, the blue-lavender mountains in the distance, the grey-green-blue of the river… and the greens of the trees…
On a rainy day I enjoyed the grey sky, the deep green trees…
I love the grey-blue and pale grey-yellow colors of river rocks…the flower colors of orange-red and orange-yellow and blue-lavender…
With these real-life colors noted I looked in this resource book about colors so I could plan my palette.
Here’s what a page from this book looks like so you can see how it was helpful.
At my local art supply store I bought a new empty palette with a lid (and another water brush just because I love them).
I also got 2 new tubes of gouache paints: a Paynes Grey-blue and a Vermilion red. All of the other tubes seen in the photo below I already had on hand. This arrangement of color is what’s new.
As you can see by looking between the color chart on the front of the book and my paint palette (and my palette note sheet) these colors are more natural, classic even.
I’ve been rereading “The Overstory” by Richard Powers. In this mind boggling jigsaw puzzle of a fictional story there is a character who begins photographing one tree regularly over a span of time.
Since there are many beautiful trees in my neighborhood that I can see from my front windows …
…. one of the ways I decided to test my new palette is to paint a tree multiple times. The character in the book by Richard Powers uses a nondigital photographic camera to record their view of a tree over time. But me being me I’m going to try to paint and draw some trees by hand…
Which of course led to drawing that same tree in ink.
There’s a few other trees I can see from my windows that I want to draw and paint too… and I realized I have a lot to learn about drawing trees. So I went to my local library for books on the topic.
Here’s a view out my window. The tree I’ve already painted is to the right in these photos. Notice how different the trees are in different times of day due to the changing light? It’s amazingly magical!
I did a couple of efforts at drawing and painting the birch trees to the left in the above photos.
Yes, I’ve got a lot to learn about trees! It’s exciting to be starting a new project just as one project, my Figures Of Speech exhibit, is finished as far as the creative process goes. Figures Of Speech is just beginning it’s life at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery – and is in the early stages of being talked about in a more public sense.
Talking about completed art that’s in an exhibit is very different from creating the art itself. I prefer doing the creating part to doing the publicity part but I know talking about my art is part of it and I find, ironically, that being in the midst of creating art – even when it’s wildly different from the work currently on exhibit – helps me to be able to talk about the art I’ve already completed without too much shyness.
Anyhoo, there will be more about my upcoming exhibit and my new projects in progress in upcoming newsletters and blog posts.
I hope the trees grow well and beautifully in your neck of the woods too.
I continued work this week on my 3d box sculpture for upcoming exhibit at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery that I’d mentioned in my last post and finished it. Specifically, as I worked towards final touches, I looked at more cardboard and learned about the various symbols printed on boxes and what they mean.
Of all the possible cardboard box symbols- I chose the “this way up” symbol. In my art the “23” denotes the year I made it whereas in the real world on a cardboard box that type of number would indicate the edge crush test rating.
I did a bit more to the elephant character – but not too much.
After adding the box upright marks on the sides and adding highlights to the elephant… while all of the sides dried, I examined still more cardboard box bottoms for what kinds of marks are typically there.
When the sides of my sculpture were dry I turned my sculpture over and signed my name in a parody of cardboard box standards 😁🤣
Below are some of the official photos that I’ve taken for the Caplan Art Designs Gallery of my newly finished 3d sculpture that I’m titling… oh, I’ll bet you can guess… “Thinking Outside The Box”
Next I will varnish this sculpture but I won’t do photos of, or blog about, that process…🤣
Also this week Kathryn Vercillo asked me lots of questions about my artwork and how it relates to mental health. This interview relates directly to why I create the artwork I do. Very candidly I told all… I mean really told it all. 👇
More progress this on my new 3d sculpture project I started in this post. It’s for an upcoming exhibit via Caplan Art Designs. This week I’ve worked to make my wooden cube look even more like an empty cardboard box especially around the flaps and edges. Now I’m blocking in some colors within the commercial-box style lettering on the outside of my sculpture. Did you do that when you were a kid – fill in the spaces of printed lettering? Anyhoo, I’m also making progress on my elephant character.
My sketchbook page today… and the notion of “un-sanity” which I take to mean being willing to think outside conventional habitual boxes.
This week my wife and I varied our morning routine and we went to the Portland Japanese Garden. I did my morning sketchbook drawings there. You can see all of the sketchbook pages I did, as well as videos that my wife took of me in the process of drawing, on my Substack newsletter. This was my favorite drawing from that day…
Speaking of thinking outside boxes and variations of habits: I read this zany mad-cap hilarious collaboration between Douglas Adams and Terry Jones this week.
I hope your week contains some pleasant variations of your routines.
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!
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.
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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….
My exhibit Figures Of Speech went very well! Lots of people came! So many came that I hid in the kitchen watching the winery chef do her magic! Of course I talked to lots of people and gave art tours so when I say “I hid in the kitchen” that was where I chose to sit, whenever I sat, with my wife, our Fairy Goddaughter and one of our Fairy Goddaughter’s friends who we’ve now adopted. Come to one of my exhibits, stay that long and presto you’re family now!! 🤣
Anyhoo, the chef made a watermelon spinach salad that was incredibly yummy! And yes, I brought a sketchbook and pens with me…
The chef surprised and delighted me with some strawberries (one of my favorites) and some chocolate!!
The chef made apple pork burgers with a brie sauce that I started eating before remembering to take a photo.
There was very good live music too… this was what the winery said about the food and music! 👇
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!