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!
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.)
from Clancy’s Kitchen Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Kitchen Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Running Around Loose Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Running Around Loose Sketchbook
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.
I’ve been experimenting with the flash essay format. Creating recipe illustrations, for example, and writing a short-short story/essay to go with it. Here’s a recent one as relates to this Holiday season:
– My wife and I went for a long hike in the woods on a below 40 degree day in the Pacific Northwest. We were cold when we got home. Before I shed my coat and scarf I began a pot of hot cocoa. Just after pouring the hot cocoa into mugs on the spur of the moment I added 1.5 oz Veil Double Espresso Vodka and whipped cream. I handed a mug to my wife confessing that I had been playing with ingredients again. She took a dubious sip. Oh nice! she exclaimed, adding; You can play with ingredients anytime especially when there’s alcohol involved. Since she liked the drink so much and I enjoyed the bold contrast of the hot liquid with my cold-from-the-hike self I kept the recipe – and drew it here using vigorous lines and contrasting colors in an attempt to capture my feelings.
“Hot Cocoa Espressionism” by Clancy – https://www.theydrawandcook.com/artists/sue-clancy
Hope your Holiday is similarly filled with fun people, delightful things to do and good food/drink!
In between Holiday fine art commissions I’ve been reading about the writers technique of flash fiction and flash non-fiction. And I’ve realized that this is what I’ve been doing all this time – illustrated flash. Or “illustrated shorts” as I call them. Like the short-short story writers do I take a nugget of a thought or feeling and describe it – but using visual art instead of words.
For example: I’ve sometimes looked at bowls of peppermint candies and thought of how fun it’d be to fling the mints up in the air and let it “rain” mints for a second. I’ve never done it – probably wouldn’t ever do it – but it’s fun to imagine. So I’ve been working on a fabric pattern design with that in mind.
I’ve done more of a red emphasis on the mints even though it’s not realistic to the mint examples in the photo because I had some mints recently that had more red on them. They aren’t in the photo because I ate them. All of them. And I’m not sorry I did either!
Anyway, after finishing the peppermint candy pattern artwork I scanned the artwork, took the digital file and set it up to become tea towels or napkins. Here’s a picture of the tea towel.
By illustrating fabric, in flash-fiction style, I’m able to get across my fleeting “tossed mints” feeling/thought but in a way that’s succinct (like a short-short story) and it’s also of practical use.
It suits my sense of humor to combine both the fleeting and the practical…
Happy Holiday’s in advance! Now I’ll go back to being one of Santa’s elves…
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!
Around the edges of doing a cat portrait commission and Chef Carosi’s illustrated recipe I’ve done some wine label artwork to be used by Burnt Bridge Cellars for their 2018 Holiday Wine. To meet the winery’s request for art that was “festive but not religious” I used 5 writing techniques along these lines to generate visual art ideas:
- Freewriting: I wrote and doodled in my sketchbook concepts that called to my mind a social festive season not attached to religion. This also meant writing down the religiously associated concepts so as to avoid them!
- Listing: I wrote a list of items one would buy when planning a casual social event. I doodled some of the items too. I also looked up some event-planning websites and went to a local party store and browsed – adding to my list.
- Clustering: I selected a verb/adverb from my free-write or a verb related to an item from my list and wrote further associations that came to mind when thinking of that word.
- Thesaurus/Dictionary/Encyclopedia/Google: I looked up words like “party”, “festival”. I looked up historical references to past well-known holiday parties. I read poetry that mentioned parties or was associated with the Holidays. (Twas the Night...) I thought of, and researched, holiday fashions such as the “ugly sweater”.
- Consider the Audience/Project Purpose: After I had done the above 4 techniques, in a wild free-wheeling way, I looked at what I had written/doodled from the point of view of the Burnt Bridge Cellars winery and what they wanted to accomplish with the label art during the Holiday season.
Then I created several images based on the above brainstorming sessions:
Cat A List by Clancy
“Celebrate!” by Clancy
Then I sent the above artwork in for the winery owners consideration.
Here below is the artwork they chose and how it looked on the bottles:
The winery was pleased with my work – and has said that their customers were too! (Whew!)
The Holiday Wine inside the bottles is very good (I’ve tasted it!) and I feel like I got to participate in a collective effort to add enjoyment to people’s Holiday Season! What fun!
P.S. I originally got the idea to use writing techniques when generating visual art ideas from reading a book by Umberto Eco titled “Confessions of a Young Novelist“.
I’ve finished the handwritten ink work and the illustration painting for the recipe I’ve been doing for Chef Sebastian Carosi. (Past blog post re here) Now I’ll begin the photography and scanning processes to get it ready for print publication and etc. projects the Chef wants to do. The get-my-hands-messy art part is done. Now to do the keep-hands-clean graphic arts part…
The original artwork of the recipe, the physical painted with gouache and written in ink on hot-press watercolor paper recipe, will stay in my studio in an archival sleeve in a portfolio. At least for a time. It’s the digital files of this art we’ll work with. The artwork will stay with me just in case the Chef needs it re-scanned it for an un-foreseen-at-this-moment application.
This is a different approach from my fine art where once the artwork is finished I photograph it then frame it or otherwise make it ready for gallery exhibits – and off the physical fine artwork goes to it’s life in the galleries and then (hopefully) to a happy home with a collector.
In some ways this recipe artwork that will stay in my studio archives may likely be more widely seen by the public, because of publication, than many of my fine artworks.
It’s a curious thing this creative life. But I love it!!
As you know from a recent post (here) I’ve been working on a new recipe illustration project for Chef Sebastian Carosi. I’ve spent the most time designing a character who is doing the recipe “action”. It was a challenge to create a cannabis leaf character with “hands” holding things. But I did it! A photo of my progress is below…
When I’d illustrated Chef Kim Mahan’s recipes and we did a cookbook signing event together the question I was most often asked was “How do you keep your hand steady to handwrite all the recipe text?” The answer is shown in the photograph below that also shows my progress on the current recipe project for Chef Carosi.
Can you see what it is?
Yes. A mahl stick. That’s my big studio secret. It steadies my hand both for painting and writing.
However I do something with my mahl stick that I’ve not seen anywhere else. I added a piece of foam pipe insulation that floats freely on the stick – so my wrist slides easily back and forth along the stick as the stick is held steadily in a position. When I’m writing text I need to be able to move my wrist a little along but stay on the same line. When painting sometimes I need to make a long stroke. Either way the foam moves smoothly with me down the length of the stick held in one place.
My mahl stick is hand made. You can buy a mahl stick but I find it easy enough to DIY.
To make mine I cut a small 2 inch portion of foam pipe insulation, taped it to the end of a 36 inch dowel rod, then wrapped that end, completely covering the taped 2 inch foam bit, with a scrap of canvas tying it to the rod so that no canvas fabric ends trail/drag.
The remainder of the foam pipe insulation, about 12 inches in length, was slipped onto the dowel rod. In the photo below you can see the wrapped end of my mahl stick and see how loosely the foam pipe insulation wrist rest is on the rod. The other end (36 inches away!) has a hole drilled in it and a cord looped through it. It hangs on one of my art easel knobs when not in active use.
Okay. So the only time my mahl stick is not in active use is when I’m eating, reading or sleeping! Lol!
And now you know.
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.
At a friends house recently we were served a spinach and pomegranate salad. It was yummy and something like this recipe here. As I ate I realized I’d never looked properly at a pomegranate. I also realized I didn’t know cut one open. So later, back at my studio, I found an instruction video here – then I got some pomegranates and began looking and painting. This is what I did:
“Oh Seeds!” – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – gouache and acrylic on board, framed.
“Shared Seeds” – by Clancy – 7 x 5 inches – gouache and acrylic on board, framed.
After the paintings were done (and the pomegranates added to my salad) I submitted the artwork for consideration to the gallery. They were accepted so I framed them and delivered them along with 10 other small pieces for a “Small Works Holiday Group Exhibit” at Caplan Art Designs the months of November and December. www.caplanartdesigns.com
All in all not a bad way to learn how to make a salad!
As a long-time coffee lover I’ve been recently learning about tea. More than half of the world drinks tea and/or has some kind of tea ceremony. As far as I can tell the philosophy of tea is basically a way of valuing mundane life – in a somewhat carefully curated way. The ordinary as a source of stimulation, of stirring inspiration.
In making this piece I’ve deliberately used multiple perspectives – visual oddities – to emphasize the many ways there are to approach, value and appreciate a personal moment of pleasure in daily life.
Perhaps not surprisingly I’ve titled it “A Stirring Occasion”.
A Stirring Occasion by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – acrylic and gouache on board
I confess that I’ve recently been reading a number of titles from the British Library Crime Classics. (here’s a link https://poisonedpenpress.com/series/british-library-crime-classics/) They’ve a number of books sorted by “impossible crimes” “locked room mysteries” and other detective mystery themes.
And I also thought about the concepts “bone china”,”dogs with bones”,”seize the day” and “stirring/stimulating/interesting”…
So as I worked on my artwork I designed yet another “impossible object” because I wanted to depict that feeling of dynamism within mundane pleasures.
As you know I’ve done “impossible objects” before when it suits the artistic concept – most recently my cat portrait titled “Alpha Betty” (past blog posts about that here and here and the finished art here) which has an “impossible book” reflecting the multiplicity of language.
Anyway – If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ll see some of my recent tea adventures…