the eggplant technique of creativity

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“Feelings are guides not gods” is a phrase from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”, the new print version I’m currently working on. The concept is illustrated by this story:

EggplantSM

Here’s some text from the book related to the artwork: “Do you think that feelings keep you from doing things? More good news – they don’t! We’ve all done many things we didn’t feel like doing – such as going to school or work when we didn’t feel like it – which proves that: Feelings don’t keep us from doing things. Moreover, when you do that thing you feel scared to do, you are nourishing your courage…… Remember, you are responsible for your feelings not responsible to them.” (see the Eggplant story above)

Cultivating and maintaining a high level of Emotional Intelligence is essential to well-being (and creativity). Good mental health is about more than just the absence of mental illness – it is the presence of good coping skills, being able to self-regulate, to see feelings as a guide whether the feelings are your own or someone else’s. (Btw: there’s a good article about teaching Emotional Intelligence here.)

I’ve found Dr. Bob’s concept of “feelings are guides not gods” applies to creativity, and the creative life, as well. Whether or not I feel a particular way doesn’t have to affect whether or not I make my artwork. My feelings are not a “god” to be obeyed. If it’s time to work in the studio, however short or long the time-to-work I’ve allotted is, off I go to my creative work no matter how happy, sad or inspired I feel at the moment.

Where I use my feelings as a “guide” is when I’m out in the world on the lookout for possible art-topics. I keep my inner eye open for things that capture my curiosity and my imagination. Then I keep a list of those things and my feelings related to them in my sketchbooks for future art-making. My use of this “feelings as guide” technique has helped me create many helpful guidebooks, so to speak, for my own creative life.  I find it a sustainable creative practice.

All that aside I’d like to add that eggplant can, once in a while, be a very good vegetable – especially as eggplant parmesan.

feeding good wolves

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I’ve been reading a book titled “Become America” by Eric Liu. In it Liu writes “To be a citizen is to be an artist…. ” Liu included examples of people imaging things like “why is this not a park?” and “How could these old folks and these little kids be making something together?”.

That got me thinking of how citizenship is an act of imagination. Governments, businesses – and of course artists – imagine all kinds of activities for their fellow citizens to participate in. Such imaginative action creates the civic world over time.

It is crucial, then, the kinds of imagination used and the intentions behind it. It matters which wolf gets fed: our good wolves or our bad ones.  Or if you prefer angels: do we encourage the “better angels of our natures”?

It far too easy for the human mind to think “It’s always been this way” when we see civic spaces or events. It takes a healthy imagination and some effort to remember that we, collectively, created “this way” bit by bit and that we can maintain it or change it by equally small mundane bits too.

When it comes to my own imagination – and maintaining the health of it and my own civic engagement – I’m constantly asking myself “which wolf does this idea/thought/event feed?” and then looking for the small mundane steps needed to create a banquet, a meal or a snack for my good wolves and better angels.

One step I’ve identified recently, something small and within reach, that I can do to encourage and maintain my own healthy imagination – and good citizenship – is to create a new printed edition of Dr.Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit. And to make it more widely available.

Currently there is only the ebook version out.  The first printed edition was done on an Espresso Book Machine at my local Powell’s bookstore.  That machine no longer exists. Sigh. Theoretically copies of the first printed edition may still be found out in the wide world – by clicking here – but it’s a challenge.  I want to make the book easier to find.

I, personally, want to have another printed copy of Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit. I want to put a copy in my bathroom. I want to read it when I brush my teeth. I want my good wolves to have more food to sink their teeth into. I want to maintain my healthy imagination – and to practice envisioning other good wolves with healthy imaginations also brushing their teeth…

Anyway, here’s one of my illustrations for the book:

TwoWolves

illustration by Sue Clancy for “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit

the point of it all

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As per my last post I’ve been starting new projects in my studio. I’m also having some down time to rest and recharge. While starting new projects I’m keeping in mind my studio statement.  Here it is on a 2 by 3 inch paper thumbtacked to my art studio wall.

ClancyStudioStatement

I jokingly say that my mission in life is to wear pencils down to nubs. And I do think that’s true on one level at least – I practice drawing and writing daily and lots of pencils get used. So that must be the point right?!

PencilPoints

Yes, daily practice is indeed the point! (And yes, I like the Blackwing pencils a whole lot!)

But, seriously, these statements are true in my experience: “What you repeat sticks. What you don’t repeat goes away.” – “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first.” and “Nothing has to go right today” – all of these concepts come from an artist book I did. (More about that here).

It has been crucial for me to purposefully design my daily artistic habits (repetitions!). And to focus on maintaining the habit-ness of creativity rather than being out-come based about my creative output. (it’s okay if today’s artwork is not perfect!)

It’s also important to take breaks. Both the design of daily creative habits and the breaks from them are part of making my creative life sustainable. The point is to have fun being creative and to keep it fun!

Over on my Instagram page I’ll post a pic of at least one of the things I’m doing to rest and recharge…

Dear Readers exhibit pun

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Since my upcoming fine art exhibit, opening June 7, at Burnt Bridge Cellars is titled “Dear Readers” and contains nested ideas – for the additional pun of it I’ll have some artist books available. So here’s a pic of a few of the books I’ll have at the exhibit.

BooksBySC

There’s my Dogs and Cats and a Cookbook I illustrated (with Chef Kim Mahan’s recipes). And yes – there’s a little tiny mini-guide to drawing dogs! How’s that for a visual pun in an art exhibit full of paintings of dogs reading?

There are also cats and food depicted in my artwork… and of course books! So my books relate to my artwork which relates to my books…

Basically I’ve had a lot of fun playing with nested ideas!

BTW the “How to Draw Dogs” mini-guide is only available via the Brooklyn Art Library in New York …. except for the few I’ll have in my exhibit in Vancouver WA. 

A link to my Dear Readers exhibit statement that explains my thinking behind this exhibit is here.

More generally about my artist books here.

And now to get back to work framing and labeling everything…

books and readers everywhere and in my sketchbook too

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One of the many things I love about the Pacific Northwest are the indie bookstores and all of the people I see reading. Almost every time I’m in town I see people reading printed books in coffeeshops, in cafes, in the park, in the library, in line at the post office, waiting for the bus and even while walking down the sidewalk.

For example here’s a sketchbook page (left side) I did just after passing by the lobby of one of the downtown apartment-plexes. There’s a lobby on the first floor and a guy was sitting in a chair reading with his dog on his lap. (I added the cat – just for fun.)

I did the other page (on the right) on the same walk, but just after walking past a café window where a lady was having a dessert and coffee. The book she was reading was about the same small size as her cake! So I had to note that!

ArmchairBook

Below are several more pages from my “running around loose” sketchbook (a book I take with me when I go to town) as well as a few from my “kitchen sketchbook” (a book I keep in my kitchen at home to doodle in while I wait for water to boil etc.)

These pages – and my many other sketchbook pages full of readers and books – have been feeding my current  “reading and books in art” fine art series that I’ve been posting about in my last several posts. This series of paintings is for an upcoming exhibit. Plus books are a fun topic for me to use in my artistic practice to, well, practice.

I’m still thinking hard about my notion of nesting ideas (like the way one book refers to another book etc.) and this week I’ve added a twist; in past years to accompany my fine art exhibits I’ve included ebook versions of my sketchbooks. What if this year, instead of an ebook, I did a limited edition printed book? And what if it was a book that collected some of my sketches of human readers and possibly included some of my poems/short stories?  So that the poem/story related to the human reader, what they might be reading and also to the fine art?  It would be a way for me to include the story alluded to within my recent painting Epic Tales Of The Pug King for example.

Hmmm…  I’ll keep thinking. And I’ll probably post some of my human reader sketches/illustrations here too and see what you think.

Oh, and to add another layer to my nesting-ideas concept, over on my Instagram page I’m occasionally posting books I’m currently reading.

illustrated poetry dominos and books

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I’ve been thinking about how reading books is similar to playing dominos or sharing a meal with friends. In all of these activities we practice cooperating with others and peaceably bringing forth the world together.

Here’s a limerick poem I wrote and illustrated that playfully reflects my thoughts:

ThereOnceWasATomCatbyClancy72

original poem and illustration titled “There Once Was A Tom Cat…” by Clancy

This poem and illustration somewhat relates to my nested-ideas concept that I’m working with for my upcoming fine art exhibit. And this poem (along with others) could become an artist book to accompany my exhibit but I’m still playing around and not sure where all of this is going. This is one of the things I like about being an artist; getting to practice being flexible, playing and letting things unfold as they will.

Kind of like reading a novel, playing a game or sharing a meal with friends allows us to practice “letting things unfold…”.

On a technical note: To create the above poem and illustration I used pen and ink and gouache on a greyish off white handmade paper. It looks sharp in real life, and the paper is a dream to work on, but the scan accented the grey color of the paper more than the naked eye perceives in person. The scan looks good enough, I’m not unhappy … however, note to self; use white paper for things that will be scanned and leave this lovely greyish handmade paper for fine art stuff that will be photographed and not scanned.

I’m still learning!

crossword puzzle books in art

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Here’s a new painting in my “reading and books in art” series.  I confess that I love printed dictionaries, thesaurus’s and puzzle/game related books. In my art studio resource shelves I have 8 dictionaries, 3 thesaurus’s and 5 puzzle/game related books. Art idea gold-mines in my opinion. Naturally a Boston Terrier would consult one of these books…

TheArfThesaurus72

“The Arf Thesaurus” by Clancy – 16 x 20 inches – acrylic and gouache on board —- image copyright 2019

The puzzle in the painting is actually work-able – at least somewhat – if you could get the Boston Terrier to move his arm.  It was fun to imagine a puzzle related to sounds (words?) a dog makes.

If you look in the upper corner of this painting you’ll see that I’ve spoofed another painting that I did earlier.

GoodMorning72

“Good Morning” – by Clancy – 11 x 17 inches – acrylic and gouache on board – image copyright 2019

As I’ve worked toward this exhibit theme of reading and books in art I’ve become aware again of my love of words so I’ve also been experimenting with abecedarian poems, nonsense poems and made up words. This is in conjunction with thinking about constructing some artist books related to my upcoming reading and books themed art exhibit.

Still noodling about this concept of nesting-ideas-within-nested-ideas I’d mentioned in my last post. We’ll see where it goes.

And yes, I love it when I take the time to sit and work a crossword puzzle. I’m not up to The New York Times puzzle level yet. Someday perhaps. I’ve known two people who could do the Sunday NYT puzzle in ink. They impressed me enough with their level of education/smarts that I started on the bunny-slope level of crosswords. They inspired me reading more widely too. I like to think I’ve gotten a little better at puzzling since then.

Do you like crossword puzzles?

reading and books in art

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I’ve begun a new series of fine art pieces intended for exhibits later this year. (Yes, I’ve a deadline dragon) And I’ve been thinking of how when I walk into a library or bookstore I feel like I’m entering a galaxy.  Words and ideas that are interrelated with other words and ideas, like an array of planets and stars, or like nesting dolls or stuffed vegetables.

Also in my thoughts; the way I can experience something first hand but when I read about that same experience in a book I have a delightful momentary shock of recognition and I better understand my experience.

So I’m exploring these thoughts, as best I can, within my new series.

Here’s one of my new pieces:

GoodSmellsAMemoirOfALifelongPursuit72

“Good Smells: A Memoir of A Lifelong Pursuit” by Clancy – image copyright Sue Clancy 2019

You’ll notice, I’m sure, the “nesting” ideas of the coffee and mints. There’s a real still life, also by me, which is spoofed within the above painting that I will also include in my upcoming exhibit. I love the idea that a viewer could find the real-life painting that is referred to within another painting – sort of a “find the image” puzzle exhibit.

Here’s a picture of the still life referred to in the painting above:

AfterDinner72

“After Dinner” by Clancy – copyright Sue Clancy 2019

I’m also thinking it’ll be fun to also include at least one artist book version of an imaginary book depicted in one of my paintings – so the viewer could look at the painting and then leaf through a copy of the book depicted in the painting. But we’ll have to see how that works out.

Posting progress as I go… thanks for staying tuned.

 

oh sheet a deadline dragon

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Dealing well with deadlines is a topic often discussed among my fellow artists and writers. So I wondered “could I make a poem about deadlines, make it funny, illustrate it and create a book format that would accent the concept?” Fun challenge.

And here for a free download is what I came up with: Deadline Dragon Dance by Clancy. It’s a pdf file and will print using 2 sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper. One sheet is my 8 page book. The other sheet is the instructions on folding the book. Have fun! And yes, feel free to color the dragon before you fold it into the book.

Below is what The Deadline Dragon Dance looks like when you print it out, the “cover” is on the right at the top by the dragons nose, page one is on the left at the top behind the dragons head and the content proceeds counterclockwise from there. It’ll make more sense as a book once it is printed and folded. If you wonder, yes, I’ve somewhat bastardized the graphic design concept of layout for physical commercial printing.

Anyway, here is what The Deadline Dragon Dance looks like as a flat sheet-book:

DeadlineDragonDance72

And here is the instruction sheet on how to fold the above “book”:

HowToFoldADragon72.jpg

The pdf file for free download again: DeadlineDragonDancebyClancy

Yep I had a lot of fun taking a stodgy concept like deadlines and combining it with humorous poetry, illustration and book arts! I used brush and ink as well as my fountain pen on Bristol paper.

What do you think? How do you deal with deadlines, both the ones you set for yourself and those set for you by others?

a mouse scrapbook and gift

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Here are a few pages from my tiny sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library titled “A. Mouse’s Book Of Scraps”.  And since you follow me here’s my entire book, free download, as my thank-you-for-following-me gift: AMousesBookOfScrapsByClancy

I’m doing this gifting by permission of our books author Mr. A. Mouse of course. <wink> We, Mr. A. Mouse and I,  hope you like it!

And yes, this 2.33 inch by 1.66 inch book is a humorous parody or spoof on the concept of collecting and publishing…

In a recent post I spoke of this book and of the Brooklyn Art Library’s Tiny Sketchbook Project in general well here’s a link https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/

You can also see more of my downloadable artist books on this page. Your patronage and support means a lot! Thank you!