Alphapets: E F G and H

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The Alphapets portrait project this week is brought to you by the letters E, F, G and H. My abecedarian poem to go with these letters and artwork :

Everett often warbles with glee

Farley is so easy to please

Gingerbread loves days when it’s snowed

Henry is sure he’s cracked the code

Here’s the artwork (somewhere on each piece is an alphabetical letter):

I did portraits of a Siamese cat, a poodle, an Alaskan Malamute and a tabby cat. While working I thought of a friends Siamese cat who “sings” constantly and I combined that with a memory of being in college art school which was next door to the music building and often hearing music as I went to class. While working on the poodle I remembered a poodle I knew in the 1970’s and the decor from that era – for some reason poodle haircuts remind me of the 70s. The Alaskan Malamute was inspired by a fairly recent portrait I’d done of a special person’s special dog – and I, too, love seeing snow. I am currently owned by a tabby cat who, I’m fairly sure, has this human figured out (and wrapped around his dew-claw).

All of this artwork was created with ink, gouache and color pencil. I love the forgiveness of gouache, the opacity of it, the buttery-smooth feel of working with it. It brightens my quarantine-days to make these Alphapets pieces – hope it brightens your day to see them.


If you’re just joining us the previous post is here. My Alphapets project is aiming to be both an art exhibit and an artist book. With framing eventually done by Aurora Gallery and Frameshop. https://auroragalleryonline.com/ as part of the Ambassador for Small Frames program. I want to eventually bring them all together in a book – with my abecedarian poem. More of poem will be revealed on each Monday’s post as I get more of the artwork done. More of my artist books are here.

Anyway, see you next Monday with more letters…

Alphapets: A B C and D

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The Alphapets portrait project this week is brought to you by the letters A, B, C and D. My abecedarian poem to go with these letters and artwork :

Alfred enjoys living on a farm.

Boo rarely causes any harm.

Coco dreams of milkshakes galore.

Dabney bursts through every door.


Here’s the artwork (somewhere on each piece is an alphabetical letter):



I did portraits of a cattle dog/blue heeler, tabby cat, Persian cat and a coon hound. While working thought about the outdoors/farmers markets, the sneakiness of some cats I’ve known, cravings for milkshakes and the exuberant bursts of energy dogs can have.

All of this artwork was created with ink, gouache and color pencil.


If you’re just joining us the previous post is here. My Alphapets project is aiming to be both an art exhibit and an artist book. With framing eventually done by Aurora Gallery and Frameshop. https://auroragalleryonline.com/ as part of the Ambassador for Small Frames program. I want to eventually bring them all together in a book – with my abecedarian poem. More of poem will be revealed on each Monday’s post as I get more of the artwork done. More of my artist books are here. Anyway, see you next Monday with more letters…

New Alphapets project

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Yesterday I posted about the free ebook versions of my artist books – for those staying at home. (Thanks for staying home!) Then I strolled down memory lane, thinking of other things I can do to bring a spot of cheer during this time of quarentine.

Last December I did my semi-annual holiday pet portrait project at my local bookstore, Vintage Books, where, nonstop, for 4 hours I drew portraits of people’s pets. The Aurora Gallery and Frame Shop https://auroragalleryonline.com/ was my source for the frames into which I put the just-created pet portraits for people to take home then and there. Here’s an example of a few of my pet portraits in frames.

All told I did over 25 of these pet portraits, people told me, sometimes with tears in their eyes, that they enjoyed my work. The bookstore was happy with event attendance and the little frames sold like ice cream cones on a hot day.

A few days after the December event I went to the Aurora Gallery to pick up a few more frames. While there they half jokingly called me their “Ambassador for Small Frames”.

Suffice it to say that my conclusion, after my memory lane stroll, is that my pet portraits were fun for people to see and get. Perhaps doing more of my dogs and cats will cheer people?

I contacted the Aurora Gallery and asked “what if I took the “Ambassador for Small Frames” thing seriously?”.

The result? Starting next Monday I’ll post here the pet portraits I’ve done over the previous week. (I’m giving myself permission to go at a slower pace than I do during the holiday when I’m trying like heck to fill orders before Dec 25.). The Aurora Gallery will do framing and delivery as desired.

I’m calling this new project “Alphapets” because, as a variation on my usual pet-portraits, I’m adopting the abecedarian poetry form. Each portrait will be named alphabetically – or, in the way a children’s program might say, brought to you by an English alphabetical letter.

When I finish the entire alphabet I hope to do an art exhibit of these miniature portraits. Definitely I plan to make an artist book of them. No matter what eventually happens I’m hoping that seeing the Alphapets as they happen will be cheerful for you.

So… see you here on Mondays? Take care and please stay home, order grocery delivery. ❤

UPDATE: Just after posting this the Governor of Washington has declared a statewide lockdown. So I will proceed with making the Alphapets artwork for the collective cheer there may be in it but the actual framing aspect may be in hold for a bit till things in the world settle.

On being at home and eating well

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In times like these we need to do what kindnesses we can for each other so I’ve decided to release my kitchen sketchbook earlier than planned. The title of this new artist book is Favorites So Far – a kitchen sketchbook. Details follow.

I spend most of my time working at home. Now, with coronavirus, more people, especially here in Washington state, are too. Welcome to my world. There’s lots of work but also books, good meals, drinks and snacks.

So perhaps it will be kind to go ahead and share more of how cooking at home fits with my working at home life? Hope so…

I was going to wait until just before my one-person art exhibit in June 2020 to officially debut this memoir cookbook, Favorites So Far, as many of the recipes relate to my artwork. I’ve been dribbling out teaser recipes on my Instagram page especially as they relate to the artwork as I finish the art. My original intention was to build momentum toward my June exhibit, display the artwork at the physical exhibit and have this 48 page sketchbook, itself intended as artwork, available as an accessory to the exhibit. You know, big splash.

But to heck with that. It seems kinder to share this book right now because people gotta eat.

Technically this book, Favorites So Far, is a printed 48 page memoir sketchbook – with my sketches on every page. That a meal could be made from it was just bonus. It’s suposed to be autobiographical amusement. But it really is a practical book, we refer to it for our own meals regularly.

Here’s a photo of the front and back covers of the printed book Favorites So Far:

Recently my co-author, Judy Sullens, and I got to talking: in the best of times what to cook/eat is a question. Door Dash and other innovative food delivery services are super helpful – but people suddenly being at home more… perhaps they’ll find it helpful to hear how a couple of busy creatives who’re not always flush with cash, not always remembering to get stuff at the store, how do they fill their belly’s?

So we decided to release the book now rather than wait. This link to the full color printed book has the entire book as a preview – and you can purchase it there too. https://www.blurb.com/b/9759759-favorites-so-far

The book is set up to be printed, 48 pages, full color, landscape format to showcase the artwork. And, since we’re not waiting to do a big splash at the exhibit, we’ve now set it up so the printed book can be shipped directly to you from the printer.

Perhaps even more helpfully we’ve set it up as an immediately downloadable ebook viewable on any device: Google Android devices, Kindle etc. It’s still 48 pages, full color with all the artwork. You can get the ebook version here. https://www.blurb.com/ebooks/709744-favorites-so-far (preview first 15 pgs)

Speaking of previews here’s some of the pages:

The title page
Book info page…. see, drawings on all pages!
Introduction page…how this book came to be.

And here are a few of the inner pages so you can see the memoir attributes.

More generally how I handle being a busy artist while not starving: after breakfast, before getting to work in my studio, I cut up veg and etc ingredients and throw them in a pot to slow cook until lunchtime. I work for several hours in my studio, take a short break to stir the pot. Back to work for another hour or so. Then lunch!

This is a pic of my sketchbook that Favorites So Far is a reproduction of – and a pot of just assembled stew:

And, yes, since it’s so near to St. Patrick’s Day I couldn’t resist posting this Irish stew recipe!

Oh, and we showed this sketchbook to a chef friend who said “I love it that a third of the book is cocktails!”

Hope you enjoy this book and that you eat well.

Way of all fresh food

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, Books In Art, cat portrait, Cats in art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, food in art, kitchen art, life of the mind, reading in art, story, visual story

I’ve been working on a large painting and posted a pic of me at work on my Instagram page. A friend asked me to explain my symbolism when I finished it …so here goes:

First the painting. It’s titled “The Way Of All Fresh (Food)“. The size is 36 by 24 inches and I used ink, gouache and color pencil to make it.

The Way Of All Fresh (Food) – by Clancy

As evidenced by recent posts of my sketchbook pages I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the life of the mind. I’ve also been reading classic fiction on the topic: “Stoner” by John Williams, “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin and “The Way Of All Flesh” by Samuel Butler.

When creating fine art I like to use symbolism that originates in literature and mythology as a way to orient myself in order to create a visual story.

In this case Butler’s novel had me thinking, as I read, of the ways mental development, new learning – like love – can sneak up on us, and yet it’s something that we process daily. The challenges and necessity of purposefully participating in one’s own mental life dominated my thoughts – especially after I finished reading Butler. I thought of how the maintenance of one’s mind is similar to the maintenance of one’s physical body.

With that as a bare bones thesis I sought, and selected from literary history, symbols with which to construct my visual story:

Lizards represent inner life, taking time to reflect. (I also remembered a quote from the children’s book author Madeleine L’Engle “Love is a funny thing, shaped like a lizard, that runs up and down and tickles your gizzard.”)

Celery, in Ancient Greek writings, represents victory and a warding off of evil spirits. Parts of the celery plants were woven into garlands, crowns, and given to the winner of sporting events. They were also woven into funeral wreaths.

Parsley stands for useful knowledge, joy and feasting. (Practical stuff of life.)

Apples have a long literary history signaling love, knowledge, self-awareness, attainable joys….all elements of life that have been, in some stories, forbidden or used to trick (think Snow White and the 7 dwarves). So I see an element of good critical thinking skill development in an apple but I digress.

Bulldog represents tenacity, courage, willingness to do the right thing.

Cat represents curiosity.

In addition to playing with symbols I’ve also hidden what’s known in the movie and gaming industries as “easter eggs“. Some of the eggs I hid are:

The cat portrait in this painting is a spoof of my own artwork, i.e. there exists an artwork by me that’s similar to this painting within the painting. (There’s also a jigsaw puzzle I designed with this cat artwork.)

I’ve waved “hello” to many of my friends – the kitchen furniture waves to my interior decorator, visionary friend, Carolyn. The cutting board high-fives Kevin, a friend who’s a talented woodworker. The lizards are a shared giggle with my friend Kim. The socks are a howdy to Frank and Elaine. The purple shirt is there because of Beverly, Kris H and Erica M. The book and the heart-art are for my spouse – as always.

Since the lizards represent time to reflect I’ve included a clock near the heart and brain artwork with a special time on it. Most days by 10:40 a.m. I have spent time writing and drawing in my sketchbook. One of my methods to cultivate my own inner life. (And yes, I post these sketchbook pages on Instagram and make artist books from them. You can see some of the books here.)

Oh, almost forgot, there’s a yummy celery, apple and parsley salad recipe that goes with this painting too.

There now. I’ve told most, but not all, of the punchlines. Enjoy!

I see readers everywhere

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Living in the Pacific Northwest I see readers at the gym, at bus stops, in parks, sitting outside on benches, in the cafes, wineries, pubs and bistros – just about everywhere I look a book is in someone’s hand. Needless to say the library is a popular place as is the beloved locally owned bookstore, Vintage Books.

Below are a few of my sketches of people I’ve seen out and about. Along with quotes and musings.

Because I’ve been depicting people reading so much in my fine art it’s probably no surprise that in my sketchbook I’ve been drawing people reading. Anyway, here’s a few more drawings from my sketchbook:

Lately, however, I’ve thought that there’s perhaps a value in showing my sketchbook pages, putting a human face, so to speak, on creative doings and beings. I’m even thinking I might gather some of these into a book. What do you think? Do you like seeing my sketches too?

Clancy’s view of Tralfamadore

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In Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, the (ahem) text, for my recent painting (last post) Vonnegut talks of Tralfamadore another planet where time is viewed panoramically by the Tralfamadorians.

After posting about my painting “Slaughterhouse Chives” some friends said they’d like to see my view of Tralfamadore. So here, below, are several views of my artist book titled “Clancy’s View Of Tralfamadore * a homage to Kurt Vonnegut and other intervals of time”.

Including, (wink) a panoramic photo of the inside contents of my book. The book is 7 inches tall and 4.5 in wide when closed. It opens to span 36 inches. I made this book with ink and gouache on handmade paper.

Front cover
Back cover
Panoramic view of the contents

In my artwork generally I think about time a lot, about the importance of the present moment, how we create – or curate – our present moments to our good or ill or something between. I think of how books are time capsules, messages from another era, another geographic region, another lived duration.

One of my favorite quotes is from a book called A Sideways Look At Time by Jay Griffiths the quote goes “The French philosopher Henri Bergeson, who greatly influenced Proust, understood the sublime importance of the present moment “time is creation or it is nothing at all” and lived durations are not simply intervals but are the very stuff of reality.”

I put that quote as a long-running phrase across the entire 36 inch accordion format that makes up “Clancy’s View Of Tralfamadore…” Around that phrase I’ve included references to the intervals of lived durations, Vonnegut (of course) and other authors I’ve read recently who’ve passed on to the eternal library in the sky. Also included are meaningful time intervals related to flowers/plants and soup. Each duration mentioned is an important part of this interval I’m living in. (For example; I’m aware that without flowers we wouldn’t have vegetables and other soup ingredients, or paper or…)

And for any extra amusement in it here’s a video of “Clancy’s View Of Tralfamador * a homage to Kurt Vonnegut and other intervals of time”

Video of the one- of-a-kind artist book by Clancy titled “Clancy’s View of Tralfamadore * a homage to Kurt Vonnegut and other intervals of time”

Thank you for sharing this present moment with me.

Slaughterhouse Chives or what came from my sketchbooks

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My last post featured my sketchbook pages and those sketches added to my reading in Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut were combined in my mind becoming this fine art piece I’ve titled “Slaughterhouse Chives”

“Slaughterhouse Chives” by Clancy – 24 x 18 inches – gouache and ink on board.

If you saw my last post you may recognize the man’s gesture from my “loosey” sketchbook studies.

I combined the man’s gesture with my soup thoughts, a recipe I cooked this week (and posted on my Instagram page) from my kitchen sketchbook. Then I read around in both Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut.

The Vonnegut title, with its focus on time (and other things) fit best with the thoughts I’d noted in my sketchbooks. (And my thoughts about current absurd American politics.) Reading the Vonnegut book helped me pull together all of my thoughts. Then I did a preliminary drawing, tweaked the drawing over a few days, transfered it to a board and painted.

Here’s some closeup details of sections within my painting:

There now. As Kurt Vonnegut says so often “And So It Goes”.

Sketching a light dinner

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Here’s a page from my kitchen sketchbook. It’s relevant to a fine art piece currently in progress; a reader having hot tea and a meal like this.

Page from “Favorites So Far”

I’ll post about the fine art when it’s finished. Stay tuned.

You can see more art from my readers series at the Caplan Art Designs gallery. www.caplanartdesigns.com

writing techniques my kitchen sketchbook and fine art

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I’m working towards 3 one-person fine art exhibits this year and I’m using writing techniques to design them. Gathering sources, aka a bibliography, is a starting spot for nonfiction works. So I’m borrowing that concept only I’m creating the books I’ll use as, ahem, source citations.

For example, in my last post I depicted a woman reading and having breakfast. Here is the source for the breakfast within the art… the source is my kitchen sketchbook:

During my exhibits I’ll want to show my sources (like a writer would) so I’ve published a new artist book based on my kitchen sketchbook titled Favorites So Far. The recipes come from both me and my spouse, a kind of memoir sketchbook cookbook… and part of the basis for my fine art. Anyway, here’s a picture of the cover:

That you could make your own meals from this book is a happy bonus…it’s primarily yummy source material!

If you want to you can get a copy of this book via this link: https://www.blurb.ca/b/9759759-favorites-so-far

I’ll post more on this topic over the coming months.