On a recent trip to the library I saw a book titled “How To Draw And Write In Fountain Pen: A Modern Guide” by Ayano Usamura. (book link) The book reminded me that I’ve not talked about this essential studio tool in a while.
I’ve used a fountain pen almost daily since I was in art school at university. An illustration class required a fountain pen, a Pelikan Classic M200 , as one of it’s “textbooks” for the semester. We were taught the care and use of the pen – the pen care section of the book by Usamura mirrors what I was taught exactly. Part of the class requirement was to draw with the pen daily. The professor would periodically surprise-inspect our pens for proper care/maintenance and would look at our sketchbooks as part of our grade. Woe unto the student who forgot their pen.
Fast forward to now and I’m still drawing with my fountain pen daily. It’s my go-to tool for my on-going art studio philosophy: “Work in short bursts of time. Often.” When I’ve only a minute or two for creativity work I can easily, quickly, do an ink drawing without having to do any more “studio-set-up” than to open my sketchbook and pull the cap off my pen. Here’s todays fountain pen drawing:
Nowadays I prefer the Levenger True Writer. It’s the best fountain pen I’ve had yet. Writes and draws smooth lines with no pressure, less mess and less constant care needed than some other pens. I use the Noodlers brand fountain pen ink – the anti-feather black kind (also called “X-feather”). And of course these days I have a whole new appreciation for the environmental friendliness of a fountain pen; less used-up-pen-plastic-parts going into the land-fill.
Anyway, the book “How to Draw and Write in Fountain Pen” happily reminded me of what I’d been taught way back in the day at university. I brought the book home from the library to read and re-remember all the fountain pen tips and tricks. And, if the book was accurate to my fountain pen experience (it was!), I could mention it to you here on my blog – and photograph the book with my Levenger fountain pen for a post on my Instagram page.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go lovingly re-fill the ink in my fountain pen.
P.S. If you were wondering – I did use a fountain pen to do the graphic-novel style drawings in my recently published book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit“.
Update: After I had written the above post about fountain pens I went to dinner in Portland Oregon. From dinner we all walked to Oblation Papers and Press – where I happily discovered that they have a wide selection of fountain pens!! And staff who know the various pen brands! Here’s a link to their drool-worthy website https://www.oblationpapers.com/
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.
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?!
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…
All of the 28 artworks for my Dear Readers exhibit have been delivered to Burnt Bridge Cellars now – and hung. Over on my Instagram page you can see a fun pic of the curator looking at a table full of my artwork deciding what art goes where. Here, just above the wine taps the winery uses to fill wine growlers, is the perfect place where the curator chose to hang my painting “Party Pointers”:
I’ll try to post other views of the exhibit – most likely on Instagram – but don’t hold your breath for many more posts from me about Dear Readers – because I’ll be getting started on my tried and true opening party jitters remedy: getting on with other art projects.
Too often, early on in my art career, I had the “what if I throw a party and nobody comes” jitters during the week between art delivery and the opening party. That wasn’t helpful. Quickly I learned that starting on new artwork well before the official opening for an exhibition is the best exhibit-opening-jitters and general exhibit-up-and-running-I-feel-naked-now remedy. My blog posts, from here on, are likely to reflect new projects I’m working on. For additional views and information about my Dear Readers exhibit – which will run from June through the end of July – please watch the various Burnt Bridge Cellars social media pages.
Now that the Dear Readers exhibit is hung all that needs to be done, from my point of view, is to do laundry, dress reasonably and show up at the opening party June 7th. More details about the opening party, including the chef’s menu here. So I’m focusing now on sharpening pencils, taking inventory of the art supplies, looking at my sketchbooks and starting new things.
Thank you again for all of your support and encouragement as I have worked on my Dear Readers exhibit!
I’ve been busy getting the framing, wiring and labeling done for all of the artwork destined for my “Dear Readers” exhibit that opens June 7th, the first Friday, at Burnt Bridge Cellars. There are 28 new artworks by me for this one-person exhibit – titled “Dear Readers” – this photo only shows a fraction of the artworks, wrapped up, packed in boxes ready to be delivered. Lots more to do!
I got my frames from a local independent frame shop called Aurora Gallery. Most of the rest of my art supplies came from a local (Portland Or) art supply called Artists And Craftsman.
The exhibit content, of course, came from my mind and personal life. More about that here and in my recent blog posts.
What did I eat and drink while doing all of this work? Well I’ve posted about that over on my Instagram page.
And yes, I carefully save and reuse packing material like you wouldn’t believe.
Or maybe you would.
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:
And here is the instruction sheet on how to fold the above “book”:
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?
Some time back I read an article in my local newspaper about teaching kids to snack healthy and to learn to trust their body’s cues about food. Since then I’ve been thinking of similarities between healthy snacking habits and developing a healthy creative life.
- Teach yourself how to recognize aesthetic cues/desires – and practice responding to them – over time. I think of aesthetic cues as mental indulge-ments; things like stories, poems, movies, music, art etc. that make you feel glad to be alive. Just like a kid has to learn how to try new foods and then practice recognizing what foods they enjoy eating. As we go through life our aesthetic preferences change – just like our food preferences do. So it’s helpful to continue to try new aesthetic/art snacks periodically – and practice trusting your own cues.
- Allow yourself to listen to your own aesthetic cues/voice without input from other people. This takes practice and no matter how experienced a person is one has to remember to return to listening to one’s own voice – rather like how sometimes a kid (or an adult) has to be reminded to pay attention to their plate and eat. (When my wife and I go to happy hour with our friends I have to remind myself to eat…I tend to focus on the conversation…)
- Give yourself permission to just practice. Practice-an-art-materials can be as simple as keeping a book of stories or poems handy for reading and a small book to write in. Think of it as adult playing. Some helpful mantras: “Nothing has to go right today”, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first.” and “It’s okay to make mistakes and messes – it’s part of how we learn.”
- Set specific times to practice. These can be very short bursts of time. They can be event/circumstance based rather than clock based. i.e. I’ll practice reading/writing poems while the coffee/tea brews, the water boils or the oven pre-heats.
- Create a small place/drawer where your practice-an-art materials are kept handy. Perhaps a shelf where books related to your art snack indulge-ments are stored. Look for and collect objects, events, places that feed your creative-soul-heart-mind. Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive. Plan to indulge in these things in small ways – daily.
- Set a habit (I hate the word “rule”) for what time per month you’ll indulge yourself – for an aesthetic “meal”, something more than a short snack – with someone else’s artwork: i.e. go to local art-openings, poetry/story slams, indie film nights, music jam nights or a visit to an art museum.
Here’s what I indulged myself with this morning as an art snack while my breakfast bread toasted:
The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W. B. Yeats is a new-favorite poem. It reminds me that we can – and do – create our own solace.
I’ve finished the recipe illustration I’ve been working on for Chef Sebastian Carosi. I shared it with the chef and he said “I absofuckinglutely love this!”. So I take that as a good sign he’s happy with my illustration:
I was curious about whether the printing/production method I typically use would allow me to post a recipe that included cannabis. So to test that I uploaded the digital file. You can see it here: https://society6.com/product/roasted-butternut-squash-soup-with-lifted-honeyed-yogurt-with-hemp-seed-oil_framed-print?sku=s6-10148641p21a12v52a13v54#
I did use the “mature content” designation on the Society 6 site – but it looks like it will work!
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.
- 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
- 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.
- Musical arts: A background music playlist of “20 best Thanksgiving” songs here. And then there’s a funny video of when Dad sings…. Lol!
- 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!
- 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!
- Photographic arts: Here’s some real tips for taking family photos. And here’s some funny dog photos.
- 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!
- 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.
Been busy packing and shipping an art exhibit’s worth of my artwork to Joseph Gierek Fine Art (link here). I’m feeling like Santa and the elves in the North Pole workshop. I’ve made the artwork, I’ve carefully sandwiched each artwork between thick sheets of cardboard then delicately wrapped everything in bubble-wrap with love. Now to load it onto the sleigh…
And off you go my precious… may you bring cheer and laughter to all.
The cookbook signing I did recently with Chef Kim Mahan went very well (cookbook info here) and then I took some days off. Which means that I read books and dabbled with a new-to-me art media – gouache.
You see my wife and I went with a fellow artist friend of ours, Donna Young, (www.donnayoung.com) to the Portland Art Museum to see The Wyeths: Three Generations. An exhibit of works by N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth and Harriet Wyeth. https://portlandartmuseum.org/
Naturally the three of us discussed the compositions of the works – and we discussed the art mediums each Wyeth used. Donna knew more about gouache than I did – and one of the things she said that it was less water-y than watercolor and not as plastic as acrylic. My curiosity was peaked.
After our day at the museum I looked up gouache and read of its ease-of-use in books about art mediums; I read of the application of gouache in bound sketchbooks but also its use when a painting/image is intended for reproduction.
I thought “Ah ha! This might be the solution for my problem of how to color my Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook”. I’ve been slowly working on a visual story titled “Time Tavern” but the paper in the sketchbook as it comes from the Brooklyn Art Library is so thin that I knew my usual methods of adding color, acrylic, watercolor and etc. mixed media would over power the paper. Just using color pencil didn’t feel as bold as I like to be so for some time now I’ve been pondering what to do to add color. (You can see my last post about that project here)
What Donna said about gouache, and my subsequent readings about it, made me think it might be an option for me. So I went to a local art supply store where I got some Holbien Artist Gouache. Here below is a pic of the colors I got, my palette set-up and the color notes I made.
I also generally scribbled with my brushes dipped in each of my new gouache colors on various pieces of paper – some thick, others thin. First tentative color marks make me very hopeful…. oh my gosh, I think I may like gouache!