Around the edges of working on cat portraits I’ve still been working with gouache. Specifically I’ve been testing it in my bound sketchbooks. Here are several pages, created with gouache and ink, in my current “kitchen sketchbook”. I have a series of kitchen sketchbooks, they are all small, around 3 by 5 inches, and I give each book a silly name. These books contain drawings of a recipe I was then-currently cooking – or a depiction of something I was drinking and eating. The following pages are from my “Mouthpiece Four” kitchen sketchbook. I have ambitions of publishing these sketchbooks… but that’s another blog post topic.
Chef Kim Mahan now has the printed cookbooks now available for ordering (and shipping) via the Class-Cooking website. http://www.class-cooking.com/classes-shop/kim-cooks-sue-draws – The Chef even has a few signed copies (signed by both of us) available just ask for a signed copy when you order.
Each cookbook page is unbound and on paper suitable either for cooking from or for framing – or both.
Followers of my artwork already know that I like to play with the book format. Does a book always have to be bound on one edge? I don’t think so. It also doesn’t have to be conventional-book-shaped. With this in mind I’m working with Chef Kim Mahan (www.class-cooking.com) to create an unconventional cookbook titled “Kim Cooks Sue Draws”. More details here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/
Here’s the logo-label I drew using ink and color pencil. (and yes, this is a caricature of the Chef Kim and me)
Our book is not, and will not be, conventionally bound. In fact it might not be called a “book” by some people because it has recipes as tea towels, art prints and greeting cards. Eventually individual recipe-cards will be available (curated by the Chef for particular purposes) for home cooks to use on clipboards or under refrigerator magnets.
Though “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” is not bound along a spine it is a collection of related thoughts connected together in an obvious way. Which, in my opinion, is what a “book” really is.
So “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” is another artist book from me – and I’m lucky that Chef Kim is willing to play with me in this unconventional way. We both see this “book” as a set of playful yet practical artworks that you can use at home to cook, eat and share with people you love.
If this cookbook is to be considered “bound” in any way it would be on this website https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/ – I use the word “bound” here to signify “collected together in one spot”. I’m sure the Chef will have additional places to put “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” both online and in her classroom.
The Chef and I are in the appetizer-days of this project and we have a full multi-course menu of plans… oh boy do we have plans! Please stay seated at the table… more yummy to come!
Below are some books I’m currently reading that are “feeding” many of my upcoming art projects. That’s art exhibits, illustration projects and yes even my sketchbook work for The Sketchbook Project I blogged about last post. Even though it may seem that I produce a random variety of things – there’s a uniformity to my randomness and it begins with what I read. I see all of the things I make as telling a visual/tactile story about being human, enjoying life and living well. And to help me develop my visual story I read…
In case you can’t see all the titles in the picture they are:
“Wonderland; How play made the world” by Steven Johnson
“Books for Living” by Will Schwalbe
“The Creative Spark; How imagination made humans exceptional” by Agustin Fuentes
“The Foundations of Mindfulness” by Eric Harrison
“Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel
All of these books relate to themes I’ve been working with artistically for some time now:
How being willing to try new foods, to eat diverse foods, has helped us develop biologically as physical human beings. And how it helps us still.
Playing music, playing games, “playing” with our food – each kind of play in it’s own way has helped humans as a species develop and maintain physical and mental structures as individuals – and also social structures as communities. This is still true today. When we do not take time to play we hurt ourselves and each other.
Reading books (and writing them) has helped us – as a species – to pass on information so that each generation doesn’t have to completely reinvent the world from scratch. This ability to collect information, and learn from it, informs our abilities to play – to playfully combine/recombine things – helping us to develop and maintain our mental skills.
Which leads me to mindfulness. Mindfulness for me is the human ability to pay attention, to focus attention and also to have a state of open/non-judgmental acceptance – curiosity even. This is essential to developing, having and keeping our human ability to imagine and be creative. Mindfulness is part of being able to play and learn…and being able to play and learn is a way of being mindful. And for me, keeping a sketchbook, making art, is at it’s heart an exercise in playful mindfulness – but more about that in another post.
The novel by Esquivel is included in my current reading list because woman does not live by non-fiction alone.
Now please pass the popcorn. Thank you.
Sweetie and I did a short road trip to Mount St. Helens in Washington. We hiked around, saw a lot of birds. Sweetie heard the birds singing and said they were quite a musical chorus. At the visitor’s center people “danced” about getting photos in front of the mountain. I drew this in my sketchbook using ink and watercolor:
Then at the visitor’s center we went into the Mount. St. Helens gift shop. From past experience we’ve learned that their collection of books for sale on the topics of botany, zoology and biology is a gold mine. Several books come home with us each trip. This time was no exception. One of the titles that came home with us is “Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains.” by Daniel Mathews.
On page 429 I read (about birds caching food) “Phenomenal ability to remember precise locations evolved separately in the chickadees and the jays that cache food for winter, and in many migrating species. Some of these species have nonmigratory or noncaching relatives whose powers of recall don’t amount to diddley squat. Another kind of memory that must be worth holding on to is a male warbler’s memory of conspecific males’ songs. As long as each singer remembers his neighbor’s song from the year before, and stays on his own territory, both are spared a fight. They remember songs from year to year as they return from Central America to reclaim their old haunts.”
That got me to thinking about the traveling troubadours of ancient times. And from that thought I migrated (pun intended) to thinking of how, here in the Pacific Northwest, there is a “new” tradition of traveling musicians who give what is called “living room concerts” in private homes. The home-owner hosts the musicians, putting them up for a night or two, and invites a number of family and friends to come to a concert. A certain amount of money is collected per attendee and most of that money goes to the musician. The musician also sells their CD’s and what not during the evening.
I’m quite addicted to this ‘living room concert’ tradition. I find that even though I’m deaf I can “hear” the music better in a small intimate setting. There are also several local small independent theatres – and there’s fairly good hearing there too. My point being that the music I’ve heard since we’ve lived here in the Pacific Northwest has inspired a lot of my recent artwork. And I suspect this trend will continue.
The concept of a birds ability to remember where they put their food also made me think about the seasonal offerings at the local Pacific Northwest restaurants. When I say “seasonal offering” I mean it. There’s a short time when a certain fruit or veg is available at the local farms so the pubs and restaurants will offer special dishes that use that fruit/veg and then when it’s gone. It’s gone.
We’ve lived here long enough now that I’m beginning to remember, for example, what pubs will offer the “fresh asparagus ‘fries’ ” during peak asparagus season. I’m also remembering which farmers market stands sell the freshest berries and apples. I love the seasonal randomness it’s like a perpetual surprise party but the ability to remember what is ripe during what season is helpful to know.
Needless to say I’ve been artistically inspired by the food. And that’ll prolly (as they say here) continue too.
There’s something about memory and food and music…. something that I just itch to make fine art about. So stay tuned. (pun intended again)
I strongly believe in taking care of oneself as a way of sustaining creativity. Keeping a go-to list of “things that feed your soul” and regularly using it can help maintain ones artistic battery. One item on my list, well okay two items, is cooking food and listening to music. So I also strongly believe that music belongs in the kitchen and dining room. Belongs there loudly.
Luckily I now live in a part of the country where I have friends who both play musical instruments and cook! I also now live in a city that holds music concerts in the park – a park ringed with food carts, restaurants and pubs/breweries – all of them cooking something that smells delicious. Picnics are often brought to these park concerts – baskets full of mouth-watering food and wine or beer.
To celebrate this music-plus-food life I’ve created some tea towels and dinner napkins with a music motif.
Now I’ll give you three guesses as to what I’m happily doing this evening.
Oh, and here are the direct links to information about the above pictured tea towels and napkins:
I’m playfully experimenting again. I’m combining several things: my thought that knowing how to cook is an essential artist survival skill, my not-so-secret desire to illustrate a cookbook and the fact that I’ve been asked to do my fine artwork (dogs and food!) as prints for sometimes messy home kitchens.
So I’m collecting my kitchen art efforts together and publishing them on a web page – https://sueclancy.com/pattern-design/kitchen-tales/ — as you can see I’m doing a series of individual prints instead of printing a series of images in a traditional book. This way people can mix and match to their liking.
The same with tea towels and napkins… can recipes become something useable like a towel? Can I tell visual stories, that you can wipe your hands with, about enjoying food and drink? It’ll be fun to try!
And lucky for me I have a chef friend – Chef Kim Mahan of www.class-cooking.com – who wants to experiment with non-traditional cookbook notions too! We will do some practicing in public – on my blog as well as on the above mentioned web page.
Here’s a framed print… you saw progress towards this image in earlier posts.
I finished the artwork I was working on in my last blog post! https://sueclancy.com/2017/04/06/art-of-the-onion/ and then I applied the illustration to some things… a framed print, greeting cards and other items you can find here: https://society6.com/sueclancy
If you have ever enjoyed a margarita – or as I’ve recently discovered – a Mexican coffee remember to thank a bat. The lesser long nosed bat, yes the night flying critter, is very important to the pollination of plants that produce tequila. This bat’s health affects human culture and humans affect the bat. Fortunately the lesser long nosed bat has been removed from the endangered species list recently because lots of humans returned the bat’s favors and helped the bat’s habitat etc.
All of this goes to my on-going thesis that we humans are interconnected with the world. It only seems like human culture is separate from the natural world. Just like sometimes it feels like we are alone as individuals. But the way I figure it even when I’m physically alone in a room there are thousands of humans with me; several people made my furniture, some made my window blinds, others make the inks, brushes and all the art supplies I use. The books that fill my studio and home were written, edited, published and distributed by lots of humans. And I’m grateful to them.
Then I back up a notch and there are mammals, insects, plants as well as water, air and sunlight that also contributed to the materials all the humans used to make everything in my life. And I’m even more grateful.
Which brings me to the dogs. For me dogs represent a “joy at being alive” and dogs are very much a part of our human world. For me they are a direct link to the natural world – they are our “interpreters”, our therapy guide dogs, that help us remember our humanity. You know, enjoy your food, sleep well, be sociable, be kind, go for walks and play like you mean it.
I also enjoy the diversity of the dog-world. The smallest dog and the biggest dog, the hairy dog and the smooth-coated dog are all able to co-exist peaceably (most of the time) in the same dog park. Good examples for the humans I think.
It takes all of us – every being – to create our world. Sort of like a drink recipe, leave out one item and you don’t have the same drink. As Dr. Bob Hoke often quoted “We bring forth the world together”
So for many of the above reasons I depict dogs doing human culture-like things such as having a Mexican coffee.
And here is one of the best Mexican coffee recipe’s I’ve found so far.
I never knew there were so many coffee-drinks until I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Lately I’ve been “collecting” such drinks in my sketchbook (like the above recipe) as well as many different shapes of mugs and cups. All of this research is ending up in my fine artwork… I’ll share more about this in another post.
Do you have a favorite dog? Or favorite coffee drink?
In the meantime you can see more of my dog portrait artwork in my new book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy or at one of my art galleries: Caplan Art Designs www.caplanartdesigns.com For more of the “Dr. Bob Hoke” I spoke of earlier see also my artist book Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit
I’m re-blogging this article because it describes very well something I’ve been thinking about for some time. It describes one of the reasons (shining a light on the human part of humanity) why I’m an artist, and why I do art the way I do it. Yet this article also highlights for me the tightrope we professional artists walk. On the one hand the Internet, and social media, make it easier for us to get the word out about our art projects and that’s a wonderful, necessary, thing. On the other hand it is a challenge to remain human while you’re doing all that ‘getting the word out’ that you have to do in order to keep being a professional artist. It can be hard to remember to be just a human who happens to share publicly what they create. Best I know to do is try.