I continued working on my 3d box sculpture in progress in my last post. My sculpture will be in an exhibit at Caplan Art Designs in October this year. I worked on filling in the lettering of the elephants “mural” and more on the elephant herself.
One of the ways I try to practice thinking outside the box, the box of our current snap-judgement era, is to stay off the hard binary extremes of reverence and rejection as best I can. [There’s a good article about the false dilemma thinking bias here.] I can remember that if I like something I don’t have to hold it so sacred that I get upset if someone questions that thing I like. Similarly if I don’t like something I don’t have to be upset if someone else doesn’t share my view. My feelings don’t have to be set in concrete around one of the two poles like/dislike. I can remember that there are often many degrees of nuance between them. I can reserve judgement. I can change my mind as I learn more I don’t have to express a strong opinion, I can even have no opinions at all. I can encourage the development of my own spirit of reasonableness and compassion. I can encounter the complex world without needing to immediately put things into simplistically labled boxes. In fact I find it useful to occassionally encounter things as if I’ve never seen them before. Kindof like this meme a friend shared with me.
Anyhoo here’s my sketchbook page…
This week on my newsletter I shared my illustrated thoughts about developing our mental lives by making available a downloadable ebook version of one of my sketchbooks that is on the topic of reading books. There’s a printed version of it available here.
Speaking of books and thinking: I’m currently reading an anthology “Stories Of Books And Libraries” edited by Jane Holloway. I’m enjoying the pleasant pastoral survey over a large span of time of all things bibliophiles like me might relate to or appreciate. Of course I like some of the stories more or less than others… in many ways reading this book is similar to opening and indulging in a finely crafted box of assorted chocolates.
Knowing how you feel, what you think and being able to talk clearly about it is an important skill to cultivate. This is true for everyone and especially true for anyone trying to do anything creative.
Creativity comes from a regular habit of observing the world and listening to yourself to your own thoughts and feelings. Creativity comes from trusting your own voice. Creativity comes from cultivating your attention, deepening the depths of your thoughts and playing with the possibilities there. Creativity, even humanity itself, relies upon individuals having an active inner life.
Basically this week I’ve been thinking a lot about how it’s helpful for mental health’s sake, to somehow make time everyday- at least 5 minutes- to check in with your five senses, to explore your own thoughts and have therapeutic conversations with yourself. Pens and paper are so useful for such inner conversations. My friend Neera also discusses this in her email newsletter and kindly mentioned me and my morning sketchbook efforts!
Speaking of my sketchbook efforts: This week on my sketchbook newsletter I finished sharing my entire book “C” and will begin sharing sketchbooks D and E soon.
I’m enjoying publishing my sketchbooks sequentially, warts and all, in a Substack email format – A.M. Sketching. I see it as a creative art project. I can share digitally whatever I’ve created in real life in a reader supported way – via both paid subscribers and free subscribers. The Substack format enables me to share my creations directly in an ebook or other downloadable format on a regular basis with people who have said (by subscribing) that they want to see my stuff. This way of publishing feels more sustainable both environmentally and creatively. Substack also feels like a more sane, humane platform for authors and artists and readers …fewer trolls… so far.
Anyhoo, the creative arc for creating a one of a kind artist book, printed book editions, fabric design productions and fine art prints can take multiple weeks or months of time. (And can be expensive to produce.) To create a one person fine art exhibit – 20 or more paintings in a themed group – can take a year. You see evidence of these long creative arcs here in this blog. So it’s nice to have my email newsletter that goes a bit faster and the dollars and support I get there gives me the encouragement I need to sustain my longer arcs. The support I get here on WordPress is valuable too – and I heartily thank you for it – yet I’ve never figured out, successfully, how to share downloadables here on WordPress. So I do my actual books and downloads on Substack where it’s easy. On the other hand WordPress doesn’t have word count limits as Substack does so here on my blog I can write in more depth about my creative life and why I created something. But then again WordPress can be buggy, cumbersome, with gremlins… Some pros and cons to both publishing platforms. The main thing I’m discovering is that it’s less expensive for me to share my actual work via an email newsletter on Substack and as a result of both its ease of use and less expense I’m able to share more of my art – and that itself feeds my soul!
And on my Substack newsletter I shared a Rabbit… more about that in a second…
To be healthy mentally we all need to regularly see beauty, we need gentle humor, we need to see patterns in our world and even to attempt to make them with our own hands.
Humans need rhythms as I’ve mentioned in recent blog posts. We simply, physically, need times when we can wander slowly, aimlessly and hear ourselves feel and think. Throughout our lives in order to have satisfied minds we need to repeatedly test what we think we know and what we think we like. Reading novels, writing and doodling are easy ways to give ourselves time to mentally wander and play.
And yes sometimes finding the time to mentally wander feels impossible in these days of 24-7 information onslaught, when our days seem so full of activities that it’s difficult to find moments of quiet respite … While thinking about that I drew in my sketchbook a pig with wings, hovering in the quiet air doodling…
That sketch led to my finished painting titled “When Pigs Fly”. It’s a tall skinny size, 18 inches tall by 8 inches wide. Eventually (the long arc of creativity again) it will be in fine art exhibits via Caplan Art Designs later this year.
Even though it’s hard sometimes to wrangle time for them the repeatable motions like walking and reading and doodling are reliably accessible, more accessible than a vacation cabin in the woods. And besides vacations we need regular mundane ways we can enable ourselves to hear ourselves think. This physical brain fact about the value of quiet and repeated motions as a self-care technique is related to why adult coloring books are a “thing” – coloring is another rhythmic activity that gives us space to calm and connect to ourselves.
Toward that notion this week I hand drew a coloring page and set up my artwork so that it can be downloaded and printed via my email newsletter. Alongside the coloring page I told a personal story… here’s where the Rabbit mentioned earlier comes in…
Teaser: As a deaf kid I had “Easter Bassets” from my mishearing of the word basket. My coloring book drawing in my newsletter was inspired by my Easter basset memory… you can download my drawing page to do coloring yourself or to read my personal story. Here’s the link: https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/leggs-easter-bassets-and-rabbits
Yes, I grew up and learned about the “k” language sounds … but I still like to think of the Basset Hound as the delivery system for treats this time of year … the rabbits may have done the egg decorating but the eggs got to you via the hounds !!
Now you know!
Here’s what the coloring page looks like. Again the actual download is here.
Also in the same Substack newsletter is a link for a book I wrote and illustrated for Storyberries titled “This Rabbit” – its about rabbits liking things – and as I mentioned knowing what you like is a skill to cultivate all of your life. (Watch out! More rabbits!)
I hope you can see how I’m experimenting with using both the Substack and WordPress platforms- more to the point I hope you’re enjoying what you see from me in both places!
Speaking of enjoying things – here is a photo of books I particularly enjoyed this week: one is a list of things the author Barbara Kipfer likes. I enjoy trying some of her preferences that are new to me. I also enjoy the reminders of things I’ve enjoyed in the past. The book on Zentangles is a wonderfully relaxing doodle prompts book.
A pleasant digression: A fun thing happened when we were at the Powell’s bookstore on Hawthorne street in Portland this week. In the poetry section where I was browsing was another adult, also browsing. With that adult was a kid sitting on the floor at their adult’s feet. The kid, maybe 10 or 11 years old, was looking, with a furrowed brow, at 8 books from a series, looking from one book to another in fairly rapid succession. After a bit of that activity the adult leaned down, picked up one of the books, looked at the price tag then at the array of 8 books and said “Let’s get them all.” The kid’s jaw dropped. “Really?” “Yes!” Said the adult. “Ooooh!!” breathed the kid scooping up the 8 books and hugging them. Big grin from the adult hero of the day.
Below are the used books we hugged home ourselves. Bread and poetry in our future! Both bread making and short poetry involve patterns and rhythms…
Here’s a novel I’m currently reading. It’s just relaxing and fun.
The text below was on a bookmark found in one of the used books we bought …it made me laugh.
I hope your week is has as many pleasing patterns and rhythms as possible.
See you next Monday.
P.S. if you’re curious about the books mentioned in this post you can find them here on Bookshop.org which benefits small independent bookstores.
This week has definitely been caffeinated. My art commission for Caplan Art Designs is buzzing nicely. The Bainbridge Island Art Museum sent news this week that my book Coffee Beans Plus H2O is included in an exhibit catalogue “Open Sesame” that will come out in March 2023!
Lots of creative things are percolating! Here’s a video look at my book Coffee Beans Plus H2O.
In last Monday’s post I shared a pig painting I began with the excess blue paint I had as a result of the still in progress secret art commission. Well, here’s progress on the pig painting. The week has been very busy so I’m glad to have this much done on a new painting.
I still make many of my artist books from scratch – hand sewing the bindings, paper folding and all. Coffee Beans Plus H2O is one example. Patchwork Poems is another. But some time ago I got some very valuable advice from Laura Russell at the 23 Sandy Gallery (an artist book gallery I work with). Laura encouraged me to focus on my book content, my stories and illustrations, as not so much on creating complicated book bindings. So nowadays I buy and use well-constructed blank books to write and draw in. Many of the books I buy have sewn bindings and will lay flat while in use. Quality of paper and the ability to lay flat are attributes I seek in my blank books.
There’s a locally owned art supply store, not far from where I live, Columbia Art and Drafting, that regularly has good quality sketchbooks in their “buy one get one free” section. I like to go through this section like a vacuum cleaner, hoovering up sketchbooks!! 🤣
Here’s what I got: six 3 x 5 inch hardcover sketchbooks for pen and ink work, two 5.5 x 8.5 inch hardcover sketchbooks for heavy watercolor and gouache work, two 6 x 9 inch hardcover books and four 8.5 x 11 inch hardcover books all of which will accept ink, color pencil and light watercolor and gouache work! When we got home from the art supply store I started right away on a drawing in one of the new blank books… which will get shared on my email newsletter later this week and I will continue sharing as time goes.
Here’s a limerick I wrote and illustrated about blank books.
I hope your holiday season was refreshing. A friend asked me 2 questions: what’s the difference between your blog and your email newsletter? My blog is about my creative life generally. My newsletter (via Substack) is where I’m serially publishing my sketchbook content, both art and words, prior to the time and efforts of creating a printed book. There may be a printed book of the art and words someday just not right now. But rather that let my art and my stories sit unseen in my sketchbooks I’m going ahead and sharing them. It’s like publishing a novel, in short excerpts, serially in a magazine. It’s also like what I currently do for Storyberries – I’ll create one of my short artist books and let it become a short ebook on the Storyberries website. Then after I have enough of the “shorties” I’ll create a printed book collection of them. But the kids who visit the Storyberries website didn’t have to wait for my printed book before they had a new story from me!
Anyway, like I was saying, here on my blog I share my artistic inspirations and other resources… like my recent collection of Jolabokaflod books that cover the 3 categories, poetry, short stories and essays, that Ray Bradbury mentions in his reading program. I’ll use many of these books in the new year as inspiration materials.
During the holidays I also got a new set of acrylic paints from the same art supplies company, Arteza, that made the advent calendar our friend gave us. I liked the quality of the Arteza paints and the way they’ll let you create a custom palette!! So many of the available art supply sets are primary colors only – and it gets expensive buying individual paint tubes to construct a custom color palette. So Arteza is a find!!
Here’s a series of color swatches I painted with the acrylic paints I chose for my personal palette. As you can see it’s not kindergarten primary colors but there is a sortof red, yellow and blue…
Two of the other color palettes I also got from Arteza are gouache paints. One set is a human portrait skin tone palette. The other set is a natural land based palette. These color sets join my “butterfly palette” – a color assortment based on the colors of butterfly wings – for use in the new year.
Here’s a closer look at the gouache colors squeezed out of the tube on the new, previously empty, palette box.
Immediately I did a project that allowed me to use every one of my new gouache palette colors, both the human skin tone and the landscape tones. Just like when I use my butterfly palette I enjoy using the color tones of diverse human skin and the myriad of landscape colors to give color to mundane objects like coffee or tea cups.
My project, my excuse to try all of my new paints, is a 2023 calendar. I’m going to scan these monthly pages with my original art on them and make a downloadable (and printable) calendar for the paid subscribers of my email newsletter. Starting at 7 dollars a paid subscriber gets a calendar and access to my other artist book ebooks including current sequences of my sketchbook. I’m publishing my entire sketchbook a sequence at a time – at least one sequence each month.
Here’s a closer look at my calendar in progress…
Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my creative life as we begin 2023 … please visit my newsletter to see and get downloadable versions of my 2023 calendar and other art projects that I talk about here. It’s easier for me to share the downloadable digital files over there…
I’m taking a winter break and will resume this blog after the new year. Did you find your gift book? Hope so. Here’s a video flip-through…
My wife and I made a list of 14 books we’ve loved and collaborated on a short first person sentence (because that was easy) description of our thoughts and feelings about each book. Then I took the book list and illustrated the list, on a sheet of handmade paper folded into an accordion book, using color inks and color pencils. After the artwork was finished I made an ebook version of “Portraits of Loved Books” that can be downloaded for free here https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/a-gift-book-for-you
BTW: The window for getting prints or books mailed from my Society 6 or Blurb shops and having them arrive in time for the holidays is narrowing. Same too with my Zazzle shop. This next week I’ll be finishing up portraits for pickup at the various Galleries and I’ll be talking on social media about my books and cards being there for last minute gifts too.
It may be hard to tell from my recent posts, the gifting season and all that entails, but I think of art making as much more than a product to buy – it’s also a mental health service to oneself, to ones family or friends and to the community. I’m looking forward to creating some things during these holidays that will fit this whimsical lighthearted just for fun category.
The advent calendar of art supplies is still being unboxed on my social media. Soon I’ll begin using these supplies in a project…which I’ll show too.
Here’s a summary of what’s been unboxed so far…
Speaking of art supplies and projects: in past years my holiday pet portraits project has been 60/40 dogs/cats or vice versa. Some years it’s been 50/50. So far this year I haven’t done a single cat portrait. All dogs. I’ve lost count but I think I’ve done about 14 dog portraits and it’s still mid December. When the art print and artist book delivery windows narrow sometimes the get-it-in-person at the Gallery aspect increases. Sometimes not.
Anyhoo, I drew a cat in my sketchbook just to keep in cat-drawing practice.
I’ve also been enjoying doing sketchbook pages that include windows, landscapes, coffee cups and books… besides the animals…just to switch things up and relax. Subsequently that means new things are brewing over on my email newsletter. Please subscribe if you haven’t already because Jolabokaflod is coming and I can give my subscribers gifts there more easily than I can here… I won’t say more lest I spoil the surprise.
If you’re not familiar with Jolabokaflod here’s a link. And here’s our way of celebrating written out in my sketchbook.
Happy art and book buying season!! Thank you all for the gift you give me of letting me share my art and life with you!
BTW Here’s a wonderful book list I found of 99 children’s books!
This week my new hearing aids came in! Besides the new aids I got kisses from Gus the Labrador! The hearing aid fitting went very well and I’m amazed at how good I hear with the new aids! As per directions I’m keeping a journal about my adjustment to my new perceptions. Did you know that freezers and refrigerators make sounds when you open and shut them? Rice cookers too make bub-bub-bubbling noises when they’re cooking. Who knew?!
Needless to say I’ve been thinking about perceptions in the mornings when playing in my sketchbook. Here are some pages.
It occurs to me that having words and metaphors for our perceptions of the world is a big reason to read and read widely. Having ready access to language helps us think, be creative and to be fully human. After all a main quality of human beings is our use of words and pictures/symbols.
This human use of words and pictures is also why we want 5 working senses – and that’s including assistive devices like eye glasses and hearing aids – so we have the ability to grasp images and words. I tell you it’s been a treat to hear my wife’s voice after the last 3 hearing-aid-less weeks!
Which gets me to wondering – what if books are assistive devices for our minds? In that case having a personal reading program takes on a new meaning. In the past I’ve shared my own ongoing use of the Ray Bradbury Reading Program (and here’s a great article about the Bradbury Challenge) but today I want to share a great article I read listing 14 ways to get out of a reader slump! It’s good to keep these 14 ways handy just in case. Two of my favorite ways to get over a slump are 1) read short things and 2) to remember that I don’t have to read the whole thing – I can stop anytime and switch to something that’s more fun. Yes, there’s value in persistence with a difficult topic but if I find myself dreading to read something then I consider switching. It’s important to my creativity to maintain my enthusiasm for my reading program.
BTW here’s what I’m currently reading. It’s lighthearted fun. And it pairs well with that fluffy yellow throw pillow on the couch and a mug of hot chocolate.
Speaking of gifts and holidays I’ve decided this holiday season to publish, via my email newsletter, many of my stories and sketchbook pages in a hybrid step between my creative process and a printed book (or ebook) publication. Kind of like an advance release book of the month club. On this WordPress blog I talk generally about my creative life. Well, on my email newsletter I’m primarily living/doing my creative life. For example I share my creativity from both my poetry/story sketchbook (the orange book in the photo below) and my art sketchbook (the black book) directly to people’s email. (You can get more info or sign up here.)
Since sensory perception is on my mind I’ve written a related story called “The Key” that I’ll share in one of my upcoming email newsletters for my paid subscribers. In the photo below you see the beginning of my story handwritten in my poetry sketchbook and beside it you see an in progress illustration for the story.
My newest book, Patchwork Poems, is doing well on Storyberries.com!! Look at that number of story reads! Barely a week old and my book has been read over 4000 times!
This week I took some copies of Patchwork Poems to the Aurora Gallery for their shelf of 14 other book titles written and illustrated by me! Some of my framed art is in this photo and to the right of the book I’m holding up you can see the book shelf!
I was a bit nervous at first about hearing in the large Gallery space but I did just fine! I tell you these new hearing aids are amazing!
I hope your week is full of pleasant perceptions. Thank you for reading and viewing my work! Happy Thanksgiving!
It’s been a tough week. One friend died. Another is on hospice. I’ve also completed two commissions for holiday gifts and delivered them. So my bandwidth for writing this blog barely registers on the scales. Please forgive me. I’m still playing in my sketchbooks I just find it is easier (and soothing) to actually *be* creative than it is to talk *about* being creative.
A very happy highlight this week was when I was asked to sign books for two twin 4yr old fans of my work!
They had come over to my studio to see this book several times while I was making it! (Their grandparents live nextdoor) The kids are both quite helpful editors! The first time they saw my original artwork in progress I had done perhaps half of the book. I read some of the poems out loud to them. They seemed pleased! However there were blank pages. They pointed at the blank spots. “You’ll do a something here right? And here, and here, and here? A something?” I said that I would. They came back over the very next day. “Did you finish our book yet?”. I explained that these things take time to do, sometimes months, but that I was working as fast as I could. A month or so later they came over for a visit. “Did you finish our book yet?” This time I said that I almost had and would they like to see it? They looked at it with me and took turns very gently holding my original book (it’s the size of a credit card) and opening it carefully. The covers were still blank at that time. “You’ll do a something here right?” I said yes, and that it would become an ebook and a printed book too so even after I finished the original book covers there was still work to do before it was ready. “But there will be a something everywhere right?” They asked. I said yes.
Here below is a look at the printed book Patchwork Poems. It’s much larger, 8 x 11 inches, than my original artist book which is 2 x 3 inches. As per both of my 4yr old editor’s suggestion I made absolutely sure there is “a something” on every page! The magazine style format lets me do that so that’s one of the reasons this book is so much bigger than the original artwork.
Thank you in advance for sharing any of the above Patchwork Poems related links. Thank you most of all for staying as healthy and as happy as possible. I’m glad and grateful to you for reading my work and for your comments!
Recently a friend asked if I had made a book about my hearing experiences. Yes! In 2003 I made a one-of-a-kind book titled “Book Of Days And Ears”. It measures 3 inches tall 6 inches wide and is one inch thick. When fully opened it is a smidge more than 12 inches wide. The leather covers and the pages are hand sewn together with a Coptic stitch. This book binding style allows for page expansion, letting me sew additional elements into the binding and do thick collage applications on the pages themselves while still enabling the book to close.
Book of Days and Ears begins July 31 2003 and ends Oct 10 2003. It is a diary or journal style book with the date stamped on each entry. The entire book took place when we lived in Oklahoma and the main content, the overall “plot”, of the book is dealing with my hearing aid issues over the span of 3 months, trying to contact the hearing aid company and fussing with the mean dragon lady who worked there. The other staff were nice (nicer than others I’d encountered in Oklahoma) but during visits I had to get past dragon lady first. Here are just some of those pages.
Part of how I dealt with the hearing issue saga was through various art projects which I recorded in my book: paper marbleling sessions of which I sewed samples into the binding, letterpress and block printing project samples were glued onto the pages, art exhibits were documented by collaging parts of the event announcement on a page or actually sewing the event flyer into the binding. Here are a few of the art project related pages.
Of course in and amongst the pages shared above there are visits with friends, the death of a mentor/friend (the book artist and author Shereen LaPlantz), visits to bookstores and restaurants. And board games like backgammon which are ways to interconnect with people that don’t rely solely on the spoken/heard word. Here are a very few examples of this kind of page entry.
Here’s a video flip through of Book of Days and Ears https://youtu.be/2It3Vjl_Eao and me talking about it. You can see some book pages not pictured above. Did I mention that I talk about the book in the video? No, I couldn’t hear myself talking. I showed the video to my wife for sound checking prior to putting it on YouTube. Brave and cheeky of me eh? 😆😁
Fast forward away from 2003 Oklahoma to present day 2022 in Washington state and as I wrote last post… my current hearing aids stopped working and I visited a local hearing aid center, Vancouver Hearing Aid Center. Things are vastly better now: there is a button and a window in the hearing testing area, there are zero dragon ladies to deal with (Wow! An absence of mean dragons!!!), my supportive spouse is allowed to be with me and clear time tables, contact information etc details are given in written form! It’s almost as if they recognize that their clients might not hear well! Imagine that?! Anyway, I am still profoundly deaf just as I was in 2003 and as I was at age 8 see the hearing test chart below.
My Gallery owner Amy at Caplan Art Designs had the idea to pair photos of the pets that inspired my Odditerrarium series portraits alongside my paintings! I swear I am so grateful to have her expertise! Two heads really are better than one sometimes.
The gallery has started doing posts like this. Isn’t this nice?!
I quickly followed her lead adding additional information such as how, like in this cat portrait, I refer to previous portraits I’ve done of this cat as well as alluding to other things relevant to the life of this cat and human. For all of my portraits I like to include something from the lives of pet and person. In this way my paintings can become a visual story.
As I wrote in my last post my hearing aid in my “good” ear had a problem. We went to the hearing aid repair place in hopes they could repair it while we waited. No luck. They asked me to leave it for a few days to see if another tech wizard could work a miracle. No luck again. So, long story short, when you’re reading this blog on Monday I’ll be at the audiologist getting a new hearing test, an evaluation and recommendations re hearing aids. Please wish me luck in the comments below!
Consequently this week has literally been quiet. I sketched a lot, much of it about perceptions, in my sketchbook as a self comfort. I shared the sketchbook pages in my email newsletter.
I read a lot, mostly Donna Leon mystery novels as I love those! Hearing is no issue when reading a book! Reading books was how I dealt with being a deaf child too! Here’s a picture of hearing-aid-less me in front of my books to cheer up by shelves (details here)
Luckily since I’m self employed hearing isn’t much of an issue really. My spouse and I now have either have a conversation or we do things, like cooking, we can’t do both at the same time as we did before. But that’s given both of us more attention to the conversations themselves and that’s been enjoyable!
I’ve also focused on my work and in the quiet I’ve made major progress on the cookbook I’m illustrating for Chef Kim Mahan of Class Cooking! I’m planning/hoping that will be available in early November in time to be a gift book for the holidays.
Here’s one part of the illustrated poetry book for children that I’ve been working on for Storyberries. Progress here!
Progress has been happening on my 3d box project too. As I worked on this side of the box cube I remembered to take photos of my stages of work! Aren’t you proud I remembered?! This box is being painted in acrylic so it will be durable enough to be in a kids room, handled, sat on etc.
One of my friends, Becky Ross Michael who writes a wonderful blog Platform No. 4, asked me last week if I had ever done an artist book about my hearing experiences. I have!! I will rummage around for it and take photos or do a video of it for sharing here next week.