art of a peel

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, cat portrait, Cats in art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, fine art, sketchbook

I’ve been busy lately working on a new fine art piece that has an orange peel in it. And a cat of course. Here’s a picture of me at work…


Between 7 and 14 of us get together once a month for happy hour in one of our local pubs, and the trays of drinks that arrive at our table often reminds me of a jewelers tray. So I’m trying to capture that festive feeling in my painting.

This has meant, as I’ve worked on my composition (the to-scale drawing you see to the right in the above photo), a practice of sketching various drinks in my kitchen sketchbook. I used ink and gouache in my sketchbook – and I’m using acrylic in the painting. Below is the first sketchbook practice drawing; the drink recipe, an orange hot toddy, turned out very well in the real-life tasting of it – the drawing in my sketchbook of the orange-peel didn’t turn out so well.


But I remembered the phrase “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first” from my book, Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit, and kept going.

In other sketchbook pages I tried more orange-peel attempts and here below is the last sketchbook orange-peel drawing – and the drink recipe that I decided to use within the painting.


Below is a close-up photo of the drinks I’ve put in the painting – including the one with the orange peel:


I’ll post a photo of the finished art when its, well, finished – there’s still more to do on the cat.

self portrait as a wicked book

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, handmade books, handmade papers, public art

Several of my artist books are in a permanent collection at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and will be in a new exhibit, in March 2018, titled “Artist’s Books – Chapter 13 – Lyricism And Laughter”!

Here are a few photos of one of my books in the exhibit. It’s titled “Self Portrait As A Wicked Book”. I made it with handmade paper, hand-marbled paper, ink… and two original limerick poems.

The poems, on each side, are:

There was a young lady in Linen

who really loved laughter and sinnin’

She made wicked books that if given a look

you’d see that they’re often quite winnin’


The lady in Linen was known,

for the books she is said to have sewn.

But when very hard pressed she began to protest

“Oh come now it’s quite over blown!”


When I exhibit my artist books I’m asked to write statements about them

Here, below, is what I wrote about “Self-portrait…”

Artist statement about the work:  By personifying herself as an open book – (or more precisely, as the linen thread binding the books within this book) –  with original limericks and pop-up book elements the artist pokes fun at self-styled “moral” groups who personify inanimate objects; books, movies and other art objects by describing them as “immoral”, “wicked” or “sinful”.  By writing “clean” limericks the artist is poking fun at the idea that a poetic form like a limerick could be defined as a “naughty” art.  An object or art form is just that, an object or technique – what people do with it may have a good, bad or neutral effect. But even the effect depends on the viewer’s perspective.  Thus “Self Portrait as a Wicked Book” is enclosed in a hand-marbled envelope – implying that the contents could be hidden from view, that the viewer has a choice to view it or not. The book is intended to be displayed accordion style so that the viewer can see it from different angles of their own choosing.  The textual reference within the limerick to “overblown” refers to the ways self-styled “moral” groups would ascribe moral qualities to the entire personhood of an author as a result of one written object the author had created.  The content also refers – both textually and by using colorful marbling and pop-ups – to the ways that censorship (or a “wicked” designation) actually increases interest in the object banned.

Artist’s back story for this book: A religious segment of the Oklahoma population has a penchant for banning books and a history of doing so.  To name two dramatic examples;  In 1997 the book “The Tin Drum” by Gunter Grass  and the movie by the same name was banned by Oklahoma City in such a way that the banning received national attention; Oklahoma City police went to the houses of adults, over the age of 21, who had rented the movie and seized it.  In 2005, the year I made “Self Portrait As A Wicked Book”, the Oklahoma House of Representatives banned all books – for children and adults – that had references to gay characters or gay people.  Around that time period I remember noticing that (in Oklahoma) the commercial bookstores “gay book sections” got smaller and were hidden the back corner of the store.  Books that questioned religion, or discussed censorship in anything but a positive light were also few and far between.  There was a general perception – as evidenced by what was offered on library or bookstore shelves and what wasn’t, what books were reviewed in the Oklahoma media and what ones weren’t – that there were “good” books and there were bad, sinful, “wicked” ones – and this one group of self-styled “moral” people would tell you which books were which and few people in Oklahoma dared (or even thought) to question that group.

community creatures running loose at the Anstine Gallery

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, drawing as thinking, ebook, public art, sketchbook, travel art and writing, visual story

The art was delivered to the Anstine Gallery this morning. The snow I’d worried about in my last post wasn’t a problem! (Whew!) The Anstine Gallery is located in a government building in Vancouver so I’m doing what I often do – trying to make people in serious places laugh.

Adults in general, I find, tend to be focused on day-to-day problems and people in certain professions; in the medical field, in law and in city or county government, in addition to having the regular allotment of adult-hood type responsibilities have entire work-days filled with problem-solving.

So with this exhibit – titled “Community Creatures” I wanted to share humorous artwork that was based on what is, in my opinion, working well in Vancouver.

A community is made up of its social vitality. The physical structures of the place; sidewalks, multi-use buildings, zoning laws, environmental policies, parks, public art and so forth all impact – in a behind the scenes way – the social vitality of a place. I see the city/county as doing well because of what I observe when I “run around loose”.

Where we most often see, or are most easily aware of, social vitality is in the small businesses, I mean the honest-to-goodness personally owned business – where the owner actually works there.  So that’s where I started – I’ve recorded my experiences in my sketchbook of running around loose in Vancouver, then I created characters (the ‘creatures’) and a fine-art-visual-story that transformed my real-life sketches into a metaphoric or literary depiction of an element of life in Vancouver.

Here are a series of sketches paired with the artworks. I’m sure you’ll be able to see what relates to what.

Naturally there is crossover between the different sketchbook pages and each finished art piece. The above is just a sample. You can download my entire “Running Around Loose – Vancouver WA” sketchbook in ebook form here:

running around loose art exhibit

A Creative Life, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, ebook, fine art, public art, visual thinking

Soon I’m delivering artwork to the Anstine Gallery – an art gallery located in a governmental building in Vancouver WA. – for a one woman exhibit titled “Community Creatures”.  Since it’s in a government building I’m taking the opportunity to celebrate, with artwork, aspects of the community I love.

I’ve titled the exhibit “Community Creatures” because the characters I’ve used for all of the fine art pieces range widely: there’s a frog, a longhorn steer, a peacock, a seahorse, a rabbit and of course some dogs and cats. Each character, and the actions depicted in the artwork,  represents some aspect of the Vancouver community that I appreciate.  As I’ve run around loosely enjoying things I’ve documented them in my sketchbook. Then I’ve pulled elements recorded in my sketchbook for fine art.

So I’m also sharing my sketchbook, the words-and-pictures behind the fine art, in two ways: one as a hand-sewn book that will be in the exhibit, and as an ebook (here) titled “Running Around Loose” that people can download and have on their phone when they go to my exhibit. Or if they can’t come to the exhibit they can still enjoy the show – via my sketchbook.

For example here is one of my sketchbook pages.


And below is one of my artwork, titled “Massive Mastiff Munching” that flowed from the above sketchbook page and other pages like it. For example I’m also combining (as documented in other sketchbook pages) the “tapas”, or small plates, way of eating that many places offer – including the winery mentioned in the above sketchbook page.


You can probably see several connections between the sketchbook page and the artwork.

I suppose with the art and the book combined the entire exhibit could be called “Community Creatures… Running Around Loose” – and I like the humor of that, but I’ve left the phrases separate in order to distinguish between the exhibit and the book. Anyway, hopefully everything I’ve done will make people smile.

I’ll post more about this exhibit and my thinking in the coming days – but just now I’m hoping that our recent snowfall won’t interfere too much with delivery day.  The local independently owned (imagine that!!)  newspaper, The Columbian, has headlines for yesterday and today: “Snow sticks around; School districts announce closures, later starts today with messy commute likely” and “A Day to take off; snow, ice prompt school closures, delays in services in Clark County”.  It is snowing as I type this … so I’ll be in touch with the exhibit curator and we’ll see….


Time Tavern traveling

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, artistic inspirations, Dogs in Art, ebook, graphic narrative, public art, The Sketchbook Project, visual story, words and pictures

I’ve finished my sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project, packed it up and put it into the postal slot. But before I did that I created an ebook version of the book – and a video.  I was going to post more photos of work-in-progress and such – but I’ve gotten very busy so… you can download-to-own an ebook version here. And below is the video…


from my Various Cat Sketchbook

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artist book, Cats in art, creative thinking, ebook, sketchbook, visual thinking

I’ve just finished making an ebook – 34 pages derived from my hand drawn, hand written, sketchbook on the topic of cats. It’s titled “Various Cat Sketches by Sue Clancy” – and can be found here on my Art Ebook Shop page.  Warts, scribbles, mistakes and all have been included – so you can see how my mind works – and for your amusement. I worked in ink, watercolor and gouache. In this post are a few pages from the ebook. Enjoy!





four topic sketchbook keeping

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, ebook, kitchen art, psychogeography, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, Sustainable creativity, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, visual thinking

Oh I’ve had an excellent question asked of me! Here’s the question: “Do you keep separate sketchbooks for different subjects/projects/media or do you use one sketchbook for all sorts of art experiments and ideas?”

My answer:  I used to keep one sketchbook but I found it hard to find the bit of research I needed because I’d have to flip through the whole book to find something.  Now I keep sketchbooks by topic.

Here is one of my “kitchen sketchbooks” – recipe inspired art – where I am inspired to draw by a recipe I’m cooking. This book is 5 x 4 inches in size, sewn binding and paper that can handle ink and water-media.  This way my favorite recipes are all in one spot – and when I have an ingredient I can flip through this one book to find a recipe that I know works and that my family likes.  This sketchbook, additionally, is my “testing ground” for ways to combine food, drink and art together – ways to interpret food/drink artistically.  This sketchbook is also a place where I’ll try new-to-me art media or methods. I’ve been trying gouache lately and I posted a few pages from this book the other day – Here’s what the outside of my current kitchen sketchbook looks like:


I have been working on a new series of fine art paintings with Cats as the main characters. So I have one sketchbook that collects my cat related painting practice and research. In it I’ve been studying cat shapes and experimenting with lines, colors. I’ve also experimented with combinations of collage, ink and water-media. This sketchbook is called “Various Cat Sketches” and is 8.5 x 11 in size, with a sewn binding. Here, below, is what the outside of it looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages on this blog soon because it will contribute to an upcoming fine art exhibition


Another current sketchbook is my “Running Around Loose” book. This is the sketchbook that fits in my small go-sketching bag and is 3 x 5 inches, with a sewn binding, water-media ready paper in a landscape format. In this book I record my observations of the world around me; places I go, people I see, food or drink I have. It could easily be called a travel sketchbook  but I call it my “running around loose” book because that’s what I try to do as I run around town with this book – be loose and free with my lines, colors and thoughts. Here, below, what this book looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages here too.  (I’ve posted my last sketchbook like this as an ebook titled “Glad To be Alive” available for download here)


And the 4th topical sketchbook is called “The Forked Tale: thoughts about creative life”.  This one is a hardback book 6 inches tall by 8 inches wide and over an inch thick. In it I’ve collected my thoughts, readings, quotes etc. about this business of being creative.  I’ve shown pages from this book to friends before who enjoyed it and found it helpful. But recently my friend Liesl was over for dinner and asked me a question about art-studio furniture. We kept talking about aspects of living a creative life and eventually I got out this book and shared it with her. She very strongly encouraged me to publish this book. So I will. After all she’d brought a very good wine to dinner. Here, below, what the outside of this sketchbook looks like.


Yes, this method of sketchbook keeping helps me to organize and find things but keeping topical sketchbooks is also helpful when I only have a short span of time to work. I can select a topic and can get right to it because I don’t have to wonder what topic to paint/work on. 

Thanks for the question! I’d not thought to do a blog post outlining this method of mine before!

on sketchbooks and sharing

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, ebook, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, Not-So-Sketchy-Food, publications - publishing, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, travelog, travelogue, visual story

I tend to live my life with my sketchbook in hand. Consequently this means meeting up with friends and answering the “What have you been doing lately?” questions by handing them my physical sketchbook. More than one friend has looked at my book and said “Why don’t you publish these?”. And I’ve had very loose ambitions of publishing some of them…

But finally after hearing the request for the umpteenth time I’ve begun setting up a system so I can do that. Here’s the link I’m working on –

And here are some random pages from some of the ebooks currently in my “shop”. I will be publishing more of my sketchbooks and artist books as ebooks as time goes on…

time to gouache

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, Dogs in Art, sketchbook, The Sketchbook Project, visual story

As you know I’ve been playing with my new gouache paints in my various sketchbooks and art papers, practicing for my work on “Time Tavern”, a book I’m doing for the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project.  Now that I feel I have gouache skills under my belt – it’s time to work on my wordless story “Time Tavern”.

Here are some pages in progress:

The gouache is working well on the paper – and I’m getting the bold colors I’d wanted! Now, to keep at it….


Kim Cooks Sue Draws cookbook update

A Creative Life, artist book, artistic inspirations, food for thought, functional art, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, kitchen art, published art

Chef Kim Mahan now has the printed cookbooks now available for ordering (and shipping) via the Class-Cooking website.  – The Chef even has a few signed copies (signed by both of us) available just ask for a signed copy when you order.

Each cookbook page is unbound and on paper suitable either for cooking from or for framing – or both.