Thanksgiving and The Arts

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, business of art, creative thinking, functional art, kitchen art, music in art, Sustainable creativity, visual story, words and pictures

I remember being told, as a young person, that the arts were “not practical”. Today I thought of 8 ways, both serious and silly, that the arts are useful on Thanksgiving day.

  1. Culinary arts: Making food is considered one of the “fine arts”. Even if the kitchen looks like this: Funny Cooking Fails Compilation | AFV Funniest Videos 2018
  2. Sculptural arts: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Costumes are made by artists in the Macy’s Parade Studio .  Over 50 million people had the parade on the TV during their 2017 family holiday. A link for watching the Macy’s Parade in 2018 is here.  An on the parade topic, even though it’s film animation, here’s a Cat Parade.
  3. Musical arts: A background music playlist of “20 best Thanksgiving” songs here. And then there’s a funny video of when Dad sings…. Lol!
  4. Visual Arts: Arts and crafts projects to entertain the kids while the adults drink, I mean cook.  Here’s a video of some cute kids who had lots of fun with an art project until…oops!
  5. Arts and craft mess clean up techniques (aka Art School 101) outlined here. Btw: I’ve successfully used rubbing alcohol to get marker ink off of wood surfaces and crayon marks off walls. And in this video an adorable kid has Art School 101 down… too cute!
  6. Photographic arts: Here’s some real tips for taking family photos. And here’s some funny dog photos.
  7. Story arts: Serious tips for telling stories here and here. And then there’s a funny video of Grandpa telling a story… here. But Grandma decided to tell her story using the medium of dance… lets watch!
  8. Decorative arts: Here is a silly video of a dachshund decorating … But more seriously Spoonflower is one of my favorite sites for artist-created materials for things such as napkins and table cloths. Below is a photo of a table runner I designed. It looks good with some candles or a wooden bowl with fruit or nuts as a centerpiece. I also think it’d be fun visual joke to put tiny clean, cute birdhouses… and/or some small woven baskets with candy eggs in them, as centerpieces on my “autumn leaf” table runner.  But then I’m warped like that.

Anyway if anyone ever tells you that the Arts are not practical – don’t believe them.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

agatha and art

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, Narrative Art, words and pictures

I’ve been reading “Appointment With Death” by Agatha Christie. By page 7 I was rooting for the murderer to go ahead and kill.  It’s the villain who deservedly gets killed in this story. While reading I realized that I so strongly disliked the villain and rooted for her demise because of her cumulative (negative) effect upon other (positive) characters more than any one thing the villain said or did.

I realized again that in visual fine art a viewer reacts to the subject of the artwork because of the cumulative effects of the objects, colors, and shapes that surround the subject as much as they react to the subject itself.

There’s an art technique called “positive and negative space in art” where you pay as much attention to the negative spaces, the blank “air” spaces, that surround a subject as you pay to the positive spaces of that subject.

In reading this particular book by Agatha Christie I realize at a deeper level why the writers technique of “show don’t tell” is also true in fine art – we best understand, or perceive, a subject, from the surrounding elements.

DeathAndWater72

books and creativity

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, food for thought, food in art, mental health, still life, Sustainable creativity

It’s been my experience that one’s reading is the fertile soil from which all other creativity grows. So I find books like this one, “1000 Books To Read Before You Die” by James Mustich, an essential art studio tool.

The Mustich title is especially useful as it’s more like a restaurant guide than most “read-this” books; the suggested titles are sorted alphabetically by author, there are readable book note details about the genre/subject, when it was written, and other notable works by the author are listed. A “further reading” section about the author’s life and work or on the book’s subject is included. There’s a “try this” section listing other books by other authors suggested for the reader if they enjoyed the featured book. Helpfully “adaptions” of the featured title are also noted: films, plays, musical compositions and audio books. Hints are given whether you could read the book “in a sitting” or not. There is also a section of Mustich’s book that lists books sorted by genre/section: my favorites (so far) are “Lol”, “Mysterious Matters”, “Soul Food” and “Animal World”.

I find all of this pre-sorted book sorting helpful by making it easier to find books related to my creative topic. For example I’ve been reading books about objects lately since I’ve been doing some still life paintings. So yes, that has meant reading Marcel Proust and John Ruskin among other authors.

As you know I’ve been doing both food themed fine-art paintings as well as several food-recipe illustrations – so reading mystery novels that have food in them has been a good way to keep the “creative fun” going in my head while I wait for paint to dry.  BTW, I found an online source for culinary themed mystery novels; https://www.cozy-mystery.com/blog/cozy-mystery-authors-with-culinary-themes-part-1.html)

One of my favorite things to do is sit for an hour or so before bed and read with my beverage of choice handy.  If you follow my Instagram page occasionally I post what I’m reading and what I’m drinking.  While it looks (and often feels) like pure indulgence I’d say that my time spent reading is one of the most important things I do to develop and maintain my creativity.

Anyway, here’s a photo of the book by Mustich – alongside one of my favorite wines by Burnt Bridge Cellars. And, don’t worry, I was sharing the bottle of wine with my wife… 😉

1000BooksToRead

1000 Books To Read Before You Die by James Mustich

BTW, a local newspaper had a wonderful interview with James Mustich about what books did and didn’t get included in his “1000….”.  Oh, and here’s a link to a local bookstore for more info about the book itself.

paint to learn a pomegranate salad

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, food in art, kitchen art, small things, still life, visual thinking

At a friends house recently we were served a spinach and pomegranate salad. It was yummy and something like this recipe here.  As I ate I realized I’d never looked properly at a pomegranate.  I also realized I didn’t know cut one open. So later, back at my studio, I found an instruction video here – then I got some pomegranates and began looking and painting.  This is what I did:

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“Oh Seeds!” – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – gouache and acrylic on board, framed.

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“Shared Seeds” – by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – gouache and acrylic on board, framed.

After the paintings were done (and the pomegranates added to my salad) I submitted the artwork for consideration to the gallery. They were accepted so I framed them and delivered them along with 10 other small pieces for a “Small Works Holiday Group Exhibit” at Caplan Art Designs the months of November and December.  www.caplanartdesigns.com

All in all not a bad way to learn how to make a salad!

 

I really mint it

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, fine art, food for thought, small things, still life, story, visual story

Typically I paint food and drinks from my memory and imagination. Sort of.  I take my sketchbook along and draw from life what I’m eating or drinking. But when I get paints out in my studio to do a “real” fine art piece I’m winging it from my sketchbook-aided memories of the food flavors and presentation.  Recently I’ve done something different.

I’ve been working from “live” models in my studio. Here are my models as they came from the store:

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Clancy’s art studio “models”.

You see, I’ve been thinking of that moment during a nice dinner out, when the waiter brings you some after dinner mints, and you sit with your friends munching them and gentling into the rest of the evening.  But I can eat mints pretty quickly. (Mint is one of my favorite flavors) And in such a situation I’m usually focused on the conversation. So have I ever really looked at a mint? I mean really looked?

I bought some mint candies as art models for the serious artistic meditation thereof. And while I did look at (and eat) them I still ended up somewhat “winging it” when creating these paintings:

I think as paintings they worked out okay. While I tried some different colors (the purple, the teal and the orange) I feel I conveyed the minty goodness of the candies. I also think I managed to imply a story in each of them, at least an implication of people eating the mints.

At any rate I have really looked a mint now. Really looked.

olive hue

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, Dogs in Art, fine art, handmade books, sketchbook, small things, still life

Olives are one of the many ways adults know they are loved. Grapes too. But I’ve been thinking about olives. Olives to eat. Olives in Dirty Martini’s. And how if you say “olive hue” it sounds a lot like “I love you”.

Olives have to be picked from the olive trees carefully – then preserved and processed – lots of work is done just so we can enjoy them. In all of their salty, brine-y, yummy glory. There. I feel loved. Don’t you?

Anyway here’s artwork I did recently while these thoughts ran around my brain (brine?) jar:

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In Search Of The Holy Grail – by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

Allegedly you can grow olives here in the Pacific Northwest. There is at least one local bar that serves drinks with “Local Oregon Olives”. (Note to self: Explore this more.)

Speaking of drinks – one of my favorites is the “Dirty Martini”. With extra olives of course.  Here’s a drawing I did of my currently favored recipe:

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Sketchbook page from “Time Tavern” – you can see the full book here: https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/20467

Happy weekend!

clueless illustrated poem

A Creative Life, artist book, artistic inspirations, Dogs in Art, illustration, poetry, words and pictures

This weekend I caught up on the news – and this poem and illustration came to me:

The Little Brat
By Sue Clancy

Clueless Jack Horner
stood in a corner
eating a stolen pie
saying “Oh what a good boy am I!”
His classmates had cried.
His teacher had sighed.
But Jack, little Jack, didn’t ask “why?”
Instead he said “What a good boy am I!”
As he ate the pie…
As he stood in the corner…
Clueless: Jack Horner.

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(Illustration, by Clancy, for the poem “The Little Brat” by Clancy.)

candy can

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, comfort food, fine art, food in art, still life, Uncategorized

Dr. Bob Hoke had a little musical ditty he’d sing during our visits*: “Oh the candy man is made out of tin / It’s just the kind of world we’re in / so begin, begin, begin…”.

I took this to mean that we don’t have to wait for “perfect” conditions to exist before we begin something. I also interpreted the phrase “the candy man is made out of tin” to mean that the dispenser of candy wasn’t a perfect person – they were just doing their best to sweeten up the ordinary day.

Then I remembered the kids song “Candy Man” and searched for the lyrics to freshen my memory. (Full lyrics here: https://kidsongs.com/lyrics/candy-man.html/ )

And then I wondered about the origins of peppermint candies… (here’s a link: https://www.leaf.tv/articles/what-is-the-history-of-peppermint-candy/ )

All of those thoughts were in my mind as I worked on a new painting, now finished and titled “Enjoymints”.  I was reaching for an idea of the magic-ness of the very ordinary, an ethereal sense of mixing the mundane with love and making the world taste good.

Enjoymints72

“Enjoymints” by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

*Dr. Bob Hoke and I were visiting about the illustrations he wanted me to do – that eventually became the book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”.

on seeing story stuff

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, fine art, still life, visual story

Beauty and wisdom are all around us if we’re attuned to look for them. Like a mystery story detective looking for clues we train our eyes to “see” what is there. This is partially a function of he way our brains work. We see what we expect to see. How broad or narrow that expectation is affects what we will see. It’s all too easy to “see” only to-do lists and drudgery in daily life.  It’s too easy to “see” beauty only in dramatic once-in-a-lifetime vacation places. Yet our view can be broadened so we can see beauty in the fruit at the local market – and find wisdom on our coffee cup.

I see my job as an artist as a practice of seeing beauty in ordinary places and things; of telling the stories of the beauty and the wisdom I find. To help others to see the beauty too.

Beauty and wisdom can be too easily ignored, lost and forgotten – and when that happens life can seem dull and drudgery filled.  This is why we need to constantly train our eyes and minds to look around our mundane lives and see the beauty, the wisdom. It takes repeated practice. It takes detective work.

Dr. Bob Hoke (the psychiatrist I illustrated a book for) had a phrase for this phenomenon of the mind “When the student is ready the teacher will appear. And sometimes the teacher has been there all along waiting patiently for the student to become ready, to notice and remember to notice again the next day.”

Here are some beautiful ordinary things I remembered to see – and what I thought about them:

LifesABowlOfCherriesStemsPitsAndAll72

“Life’s a bowl of cherries, stems pits and all” – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

Life’s A Bowl Of Cherries, Stems, Pits and All – At the farmer’s market during Rainier Cherry season I saw a father teaching his very young son how to pull a stem off, chew the cherry, extract the pit and put the stim and pit into a cup. it reminded me of how we have to be taught how to deal with the adversities in life, how to cope with the pits, how to focus on and remember to enjoy the good things.

CoffeeCity72

“Coffee City” – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – acrylic and gouache on board

Coffee City – I’ve been thinking of how much our lives are reflected in the objects we own, save, give away or dispose of – and the many mundane moments out of which a life is made. Perhaps choosing carefully what we focus on, choosing what encourages our “better angels”, choosing what becomes mundane is what makes for a good life.  These thoughts began when I was having coffee in one of my downtown coffee shops, staring at the highly polished surface of the ceramic coffee cup which reflected the surrounding city-scape. It was an ordinary moment that elevated my spirit. So I made this painting in order to remember.

You can see more art examples from this exhibit in my recent posts here and here.

More info about my upcoming art opening is available on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/2217205128523609/

True confessions: since the opening party is tomorrow night I am having a bit of the “will anyone come?” jitters. No matter that I’ve been having one person exhibits for many years, many times a year, or that all events have for the most part been well attended – even knowing all of that as opening night nears I get a little nervous. (“Will anyone else see….?”)  The exhibits matter to me. They’re risky on many levels. That’s part of the exhilarating fun of living the artistic life.

So, yes, I can see the beauty in my nervousness.

Mostly.

 

writing about art

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, fine art, sketchbook, still life, story, visual story, words and pictures, writing

There was a time when I felt that writing words-in-a-row about visual art was rather like using lemon juice to describe honey. But somewhere along the way I realized that being a professional artist out in the “real world” meant I didn’t have to write as if I were in an academic university. That was a relief.  And I realized that writing about visual art was like combining multi-media or like a playwright creating a musical theatre piece about a historical event.

It’s genre bending/blending.

So I began practicing writing about my own visual art in an everyday conversational way.  When I’m coming up with my artistic ideas I write by hand what I’m thinking and feeling as I’m drawing in my sketchbooks. Later on I use that hand written data to write more formal “blurbs”, or story-clues, about what inspired each of my artworks. I say “more formal” because the blurbs are type-written, the spelling has been checked and the original hand written data has been neatened/edited/condensed.  These “blurbs” are often printed and posted near my artwork in exhibits. In my writings I largely leave off the technical points of artistic technique because the majority of the time I’m talking to the general public. (Of course if I’m asked about art techniques I’ll gladly share details!)

In Sept I’m doing a one-person exhibit titled “Story Stuff” at Caplan Art Designs (I wrote more about that in a post titled Cozy Mystery Story Stuff). Here are a few of the artworks and the “blurbs” (story-clues?) I’ve written that will be alongside the art at my exhibit:

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Near Forest Park – by Clancy – 22 x 30 inches – acrylic and gouache on handmade paper

Near Forest Park – I enjoy hiking in a large forest in the middle of an urban city (Portland Or). I love it that I can pop out of the dense forest, get a coffee – or boot laces – and then resume my hike.

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“A Novel Morning” – by Clancy – 24 x 18 – acrylic and gouache on board

A Novel Morning – One of my favorite things to do is to go to Powell’s bookstore, find a new-to-me novel and then get something in the café. The “text” in this painting is re-combined and paraphrased from “Death at La Fenice” by Donna Leon.

GoodMorning72

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

Good Morning – What constitutes a “good morning”? One of my answers is plenty of coffee and enough leisure time to work the daily newspaper’s crossword puzzle.

During my exhibits I’ll often see people reading the blurbs and then looking more closely at my artwork – and sometimes they’ll approach me and talk about the topic within one of my paintings. It seems that my “multi-media” pictures-plus-words exercise is helpful for starting conversations at least.

What are your thoughts about combining writing and visual art?