ode to fountain pens

A Creative Life, art book review, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, Books In Art, business of art, drawing as thinking, fine art, illustrated shorts, magic realism, reading in art, Sustainable creativity, writing and illustrating

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:

Hibernation

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/

the first aid cover art

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, author illustrator, books, drawing as thinking, illustration, publications - publishing, sketchbook, Uncategorized, words and pictures

Here’s the cover for the new print version of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”.  Keeping the hand-drawn look for the cover was important. Half of this book is filled with hand-drawn graphic-novel type stories. And the book originated in my sketchbook. So it seemed a no-brainer to keep the cover art “organic” looking.  Here are both the front and back covers:

Yes, I did see this new print version as an opportunity to hand-write the entire book and considered it strongly. However from the outset of this project when we did the first printed editions small run, Dr. Bob Hoke wanted the book to be as easily accessible as possible – including constructing a book that would feel “simple” and even fun.

So as I designed this new print version I decided that typing the text of Dr. Bob’s lecture notes, rather than hand writing it would be more in keeping with Dr. Hoke’s methods. By typing I could also choose fonts and formats that would be easier for anyone, including dyslexics, to read. “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” is also small in size; 5.5 x 8.5 inches and only 56 pages long.

As I mentioned above, half the book is drawings… so I worked to make the cover art fit with the cartoon drawings inside the book.

“Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” will be officially released November 1st – but since you follow my blog you can get early access here: https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=Dr-Bobs-Emotional-Repair-Program-First-Aid-Kit1

the art technique of attention

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, drawing as thinking, ebook, fine art, illustration, mental health, story, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking, writing and illustrating

I’ve been very busy getting ready for a one-person fine art exhibit at Caplan Art Designs that will open in September. (So my social media activity has slacked off lately.) Around the edges of creating new fine artwork, framing, paperwork and so forth I’ve been working towards a new print edition of “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”.

This story from the First Aid Kit has been a good reminder of an art technique I try to practice daily – even when I’m busy:

Attention

Even when I’m very busy I practice taking a moment within my day, wherever I am, in the here-and-now and pay attention to my 5 senses. I try to let go of any preconceived conceptions, to just expand my awareness. I also include, in this exercise, paying attention to my free-associations and my imagination during my 5-senses check-in moment. I’ll note my sensory experience and “watch”, like you’d watch television, the memories, thoughts and associations that cross my mind as a result of the sensory experience.  I’ll often make notes in my sketchbook.

What I “get” for my payment – when I pay attention – is the power to choose what to focus on when I’m at my art easel working.

This practice of paying attention to both sensory input and the content of my mind –  is a version of what Betty Edwards wrote about in her book “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” – in the section where she talks about chairs. How (and I’m paraphrasing) a drawing student first attempting to draw a chair will substitute their knowledge about chairs (4 legs, a square seat and back) and will draw a child-like symbol of a chair. One has to learn to see the shapes of the spaces around the chair as well as the shapes of the chair itself – what is actually seen (3 legs, a trapezoid shaped seat and back).

I find too often – especially when I’m busy – I’m substituting my “knowledge” about the world, my preconceptions, for what “is” in the world. So I find it helpful to practice seeing the shapes of spaces, so to speak, in my sensory experience of the world. And to see the shapes of spaces within my own mind.

Paying attention allows me to merge real-world phenomenon with my mental life and to choose to communicate, via art, in ways that are helpful, playful and fun.

Currently “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” only exists in e-book form. But as I said above, I’m working on that. This book has had such a profound impact on my own creative life that I want to have another print version around.

the point of it all

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, business of art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, ebook, mental health, Sustainable creativity

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…

books and readers everywhere and in my sketchbook too

A Creative Life, art exhibit, artist book, artistic inspirations, Books In Art, drawing as thinking, ebook, kitchen art, reading in art, recipe illustration, sketchbook, visual thinking

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.

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?

birthday book

A Creative Life, artist book, artistic inspirations, drawing as thinking, ebook, sketchbook, travelogue, visual story

It’s my birthday so you get a present! Because you’re a regular reader of my posts, here is a free downloadable e-book copy of my “Running Around Loose” sketchbook. It’s a pdf file, click RunningLooseVanEd1byClancy to download the book for free (it’s a birthday gift!). I’ll include a few sample pages in this post so you’ll have some clues as to what you’ll get when you open the file. Enjoy! And thanks again for looking at my stuff!

Now please pass the strawberries and whipped cream.

RiverwalkJavaHouse

HouseConcert

McMenamins

SavonaCoffeeRiverwalk

pages from “Running Around Loose in Vancouver WA” by Clancy

Oh yes – you can find more of my artist books here: https://sueclancy.com/shop/  and here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/

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…

ClancyAtWorkPurrHappyHour72.jpg

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.

OrangeToddyBest72

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.

FlatironMartini72

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

TrayDetail72.jpg

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

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:  https://sueclancy.com/product/running-around-loose-vancouver-wa-edition-1-by-sue-clancy/

four topic sketchbook keeping

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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 https://sueclancy.com/from-my-kitchen-sketchbook/ – Here’s what the outside of my current kitchen sketchbook looks like:

MouthpieceFourCover72

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

VariousSketchesCover72.

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)

RunningLooseCover72

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.

ForkedTaleCover72

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!