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!
For my evening-just-before-bed holiday reading I’m re-reading “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. Last night I read this:
“Mr. Hurst looked at her with astonishment. “Do you prefer reading to cards?” said he; “that is rather singular.” “Miss Eliza Bennet,” said Miss Bingley, “despises cards. She is a great reader and has no pleasure in anything else.” “I deserve neither such praise nor such censure,” cried Elizabeth; “I am not a great reader, and I have pleasure in many things.”
I enjoy reading books and I, too, have pleasure in many things. Sitting and playing a card game with my spouse is one of them. Playing cards with friends and family… so many good memories stem from times around the table, after a meal, with decks of cards, drinks and conversation!
So even though my main theme for my Dec. 7th pop-up event at Vintage Books is readers – stocking stuffer gift items on which I’ve put images from my current Readers fine art series – I had to create some playing cards! Besides a deck of cards will fit into a holiday stocking nicely.
My friend and neighbor, who has two grandchildren under the age of 2, was showing me a vintage toy that was purchased for the kids; a red and blue ball with shaped holes in it, with the yellow-block shapes inside the ball. You pull open the ball, the yellow-shape blocks spill out and you can put the blocks back inside the ball by matching the block shape and the hole shape.
At the time I was working on an illustration and was stumped for the “language” that the space alien creature would be speaking. The “language” in my artwork would need to somehow imply the ways the content of a book can “fit” with or resonate with a reader.
My conversation with my neighbor helped – creative problem solved!!
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.
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/
One of my favorite desserts uses fresh fruit from our garden and or the local farmers market. Naturally I meditated on what I feel like when I’m eating one of these milkshakes and described it with my recipe illustration. (clue: a parade…)
I used ink and gouache on handmade paper to create the original art-plus-recipe. The handmade paper is very absorbent so the gouache looks more like “watercolor” than it does when I work on board.
The recipe is called “sloppy” because I don’t bother to blend the ingredients before serving the milkshake. I like the big chunks of fruit. Anyway, If you make the recipe I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!
Sloppy milkshakes by Sue Clancy (original art and recipe) – 6 x 18 inches – ink and gouache on handmade paper
In my early 20’s I worked as a graphic designer for the Center For Economic Management Research where I took business statistics and turned them into maps and all sorts of illustrations. It was fun to learn that there are magical people behind those dry lists of mundane numbers!
Well fast forward to today – and I still like maps. I think of map-making as sorting mundane information via my imagination. For example; I’ve recently taken my running around sketchbook pages that depict places where good pie can be found and have turned the accumulated info into a map titled “Pie Places in Vancouver WA”. You can find this map and my other maps here and here.
And yes, you can really go and get a yummy slice of pie from any of these real-life places:
Especially when I’m super busy working on a one-person art exhibit I rely even more on my sustainable creativity technique of “running around loose”. I define “running around loose” as going about my nearby surroundings like a child or a dog in a park; poking about and exploring as if there are no time constraints in the world. My cell phone gets turned off and shoved deep into the bottom of my bag. It is there only for emergency use on the scale of needing to call 911. I don’t use the GPS function on my phone either. “Running loose” involves getting lost, losing track of time and generally living by-guess-by-golly (no preconceived plan) for an afternoon into the evening.
I’ll bring my sketchbook and write, draw and paint but I do it with no agenda, no particular project in mind. The idea is to play like a child or a puppy. To observe my surroundings with curious, free-associative, eyes.
This is particularly helpful as a refresher when I’m coming down to the wire on an art exhibit. I’m to deliver all of the artwork for my upcoming one-person exhibit at the end of May – and before that there’s all the paperwork. So I’ve got to be fresh and remember why I’ve done all this artwork – and even get excited about it again.
I’ve been working toward this exhibit for about one year. I’m a bit tired by the time the exhibit nears. But it wouldn’t do to have a “well whatever” attitude here at the finish line. Thus my mega-recharge session.
Here’s what I did in my sketchbooks when I “ran around loose” recharging my batteries for a whole day in Vancouver Washington and Woodland WA :
I was particularly struck by the various colors of purple that I saw on the grapes I ate for a snack – and the many different colors of purple in the tulip gardens and lilac gardens in Woodland WA. Here are some sketchbook pages:
After running loose for a day I felt pleasantly tired but like I’d had a mini-staycation. Great recharge session!!
Yesterday was a busy day full of play both in the kitchen and on a hike. Somehow in the mix I thought of a new-to-me way to combine my handwritten words and artwork on a page. Late last night I tried it in my sketchbook. Here’s what I did using ink and gouache: