Mundane magic – aka joy breaks

A Creative Life, art commission, art gallery, artistic inspirations, books, creative thinking, fine art, life of the mind, mental health, poetry, Sustainable creativity, whimsical art, words and pictures

A friend asked how I maintain creativity while doing a commission. My reply: a schedule and lots of joy breaks. I deliberately make the mundane magical. Especially via joy breaks.

Joy breaks, also called “Joy Snacks“, is purposefully taking time to recognize and savor small pleasures. Think of the old fashioned coffee breaks office workers were allowed within a work day but for me now it’s a scheduled “check in” with whatever seems pleasant to me at regular intervals throughout a day. It’s allowing myself to fully feel the pleasure I feel however small the feeling may be. I add a corollary that it’s also avoiding killjoy thoughts – including those U.S. Southern style self depreciating cynical put downs of my own pleasures. It’s taking time to make note of a memorable moment in my journal/sketchbook each day. Yes, notes of things I’m grateful for but also just things I enjoyed and the surprising things that pleasantly caught my attention during the day. It’s also taking a moment to maintain awareness of what is within my control and what isn’t – a crucial thing to remember during creative deadlines – while allowing myself to relax and let go of some things in the Stoic philosophical manner.

In a technical/physical sense while doing an art commission (my current one is for the Caplan Art Designs Gallery) there are times I need to wait for parts of the commission to dry before doing other parts. There are also times when I have extra paint that I mixed for the commission leftover. So part of the mundane creativity task is to monitor the commission as it dries – to stay on task – and yet also use up any excess paint. This week I did a painting of a pig titled “Red Eye Gravy Train”… (details of the painting, the related limerick and a view of my sketchbook is on my Substack  https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/early-starts )

Red Eye Gravy Train by Clancy

I had mixed a pink color for my commission and had a wee bit leftover so I added a bit more of the white and used it on “Red Eye Gravy Train”.

During another days work on my commission I was mixing a particular shade of light blue and the tube of blue suddenly smooged out too much color in a gush. So I had a huge amount of leftover blue color to deal with.

So I consulted my sketchbook for ideas and with a watercolor pencil quickly drew a design and filled in with the extra blue paint (and the wee bit extra green too).

Even after painting that there was still extra blue paint left so I covered two boards edge to edge with the blue till the paint was used up. No clue at this point how I’ll use these new blue boards…but that’s what creative thinking is for!

Since I’ve been so busy working we’ve had lots of beans and rice for our lunches. I have a keeper of my precooked magic beans in the fridge so I toss a scoop or two in on top of the rice in my “push here dummy” rice cooker, to quote my adopted Mom’s phrase for simple kitchen appliances.

I add spices, freshly chopped onions and other vegetables to vary the dishes from meal to meal, press the cook button and head back to the studio to work some more.

Even though these beans and rice bowls I make are simple and cooked in a busy-artist-hands-free-cooking way they still feel like homemade comfort food. (My beans and grains bowl recipe/strategy can be found in my kitchen sketchbook “Favorites So Far“)

I like handwritten works, homemade food and just about anything made by hand. So I  enjoyed this post by Austin Kleon about how AI (and algorithms) can’t kill anything worth keeping.

And I admit to getting a joy snack style chuckle from this article about today’s teenagers going luddite and ditching social media and smartphones in favor of handmade real life!

The additional poetry book title by Andrea Gibson, the new favorite poet I wrote about last post arrived this week! I love it that it looks handwritten. I know it’s a font…but I like the look. Gibson’s words feel so true to my own experiences and the semi-handwritten hand illustrated look adds a sense of comradeship for me.

Speaking of handwritten poetry… I read a fun article about a park ranger who got creative and made a free little library style kiosk for poetry in the park!

One of the most delightful joy breaks was this video of what happened when a girl gave a street musician a coin.

And I hope today’s post itself gave you a small joy break. Remember to take breaks and notice pleasant things. See you next Monday or thereabouts.

A hearing book and the cookbook is out!

A Creative Life, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, book design and layout, books, collage, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, handmade books, illustrated poem, illustrated recipe, illustrated shorts, illustration, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, mental health, poetry, publications - publishing, recipe illustration, sketchbook, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

Recently a friend asked if I had made a book about my hearing experiences. Yes! In 2003 I made a one-of-a-kind book titled “Book Of Days And Ears”. It measures 3 inches tall 6 inches wide and is one inch thick. When fully opened it is a smidge more than 12 inches wide. The leather covers and the pages are hand sewn together with a Coptic stitch. This book binding style allows for page expansion, letting me sew additional elements into the binding and do thick collage applications on the pages themselves while still enabling the book to close.

Book of Days and Ears begins July 31 2003 and ends Oct 10 2003. It is a diary or journal style book with the date stamped on each entry. The entire book took place when we lived in Oklahoma and the main content, the overall “plot”, of the book is dealing with my hearing aid issues over the span of 3 months, trying to contact the hearing aid company and fussing with the mean dragon lady who worked there. The other staff were nice (nicer than others I’d encountered in Oklahoma) but during visits I had to get past dragon lady first. Here are just some of those pages.

Part of how I dealt with the hearing issue saga was through various art projects which I recorded in my book: paper marbleling sessions of which I sewed samples into the binding, letterpress and block printing project samples were glued onto the pages, art exhibits were documented by collaging parts of the event announcement on a page or actually sewing the event flyer into the binding. Here are a few of the art project related pages.

Of course in and amongst the pages shared above there are visits with friends, the death of a mentor/friend (the book artist and author Shereen LaPlantz), visits to bookstores and restaurants. And board games like backgammon which are ways to interconnect with people that don’t rely solely on the spoken/heard word. Here are a very few examples of this kind of page entry.

Here’s a video flip through of Book of Days and Ears https://youtu.be/2It3Vjl_Eao and me talking about it. You can see some book pages not pictured above. Did I mention that I talk about the book in the video? No, I couldn’t hear myself talking. I showed the video to my wife for sound checking prior to putting it on YouTube. Brave and cheeky of me eh? 😆😁

Fast forward away from 2003 Oklahoma to present day 2022 in Washington state and as I wrote last post… my current hearing aids stopped working and I visited a local hearing aid center, Vancouver Hearing Aid Center. Things are vastly better now: there is a button and a window in the hearing testing area, there are zero dragon ladies to deal with (Wow! An absence of mean dragons!!!), my supportive spouse is allowed to be with me and clear time tables, contact information etc details are given in written form! It’s almost as if they recognize that their clients might not hear well! Imagine that?! Anyway, I am still profoundly deaf just as I was in 2003 and as I was at age 8 see the hearing test chart below.

Very loud drum roll please!! The cookbook I’ve been illustrating is now available! It is titled Kim Cooks Sue Draws and can be gotten in person at Chef Kim Mahan’s culinary Class Cooking which is part of the winery Burnt Bridge Cellars. It is also available for shipping or as a downloadable pdf file from this link https://www.blurb.com/b/11301105-kim-cooks-sue-draws

Progress has happened on my upcoming illustrated poetry book for Storyberries! Here are a few of those original pages.

I have finished the 3D block now and titled it “Dogs On The Block”. More photos will be taken, it will be varnished and delivery to the Caplan Art Designs gallery arranged. So more still to do.

This current hearing aid repair season (Ha!) we’re playing dominoes as well as reading books each evening. So I’ll leave you with the action packed photos below and see you next Monday!

Perceptions, a poem, art projects and hearing

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, children's book, dog portrait, fine art, gift books, illustrated poem, illustrated recipe, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, kitchen art, mental health, Odditerrarium, poetry, reading, sketchbook, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

My Gallery owner Amy at Caplan Art Designs had the idea to pair photos of the pets that inspired my Odditerrarium series portraits alongside my paintings! I swear I am so grateful to have her expertise! Two heads really are better than one sometimes.

The gallery has started doing posts like this. Isn’t this nice?!

I quickly followed her lead adding additional information such as how, like in this cat portrait, I refer to previous portraits I’ve done of this cat as well as alluding to other things relevant to the life of this cat and human. For all of my portraits I like to include something from the lives of pet and person. In this way my paintings can become a visual story.

As I wrote in my last post my hearing aid in my “good” ear had a problem. We went to the hearing aid repair place in hopes they could repair it while we waited. No luck. They asked me to leave it for a few days to see if another tech wizard could work a miracle. No luck again. So, long story short, when you’re reading this blog on Monday I’ll be at the audiologist getting a new hearing test, an evaluation and recommendations re hearing aids. Please wish me luck in the comments below!

Consequently this week has literally been quiet. I sketched a lot, much of it about perceptions, in my sketchbook as a self comfort. I shared the sketchbook pages in my email newsletter.

I read a lot, mostly Donna Leon mystery novels as I love those! Hearing is no issue when reading a book! Reading books was how I dealt with being a deaf child too! Here’s a picture of hearing-aid-less me in front of my books to cheer up by shelves (details here)

Luckily since I’m self employed hearing isn’t much of an issue really. My spouse and I now have either have a conversation or we do things, like cooking, we can’t do both at the same time as we did before. But that’s given both of us more attention to the conversations themselves and that’s been enjoyable!

I’ve also focused on my work and in the quiet I’ve made major progress on the cookbook I’m illustrating for Chef Kim Mahan of Class Cooking! I’m planning/hoping that will be available in early November in time to be a gift book for the holidays.

Here’s one part of the illustrated poetry book for children that I’ve been working on for Storyberries. Progress here!

Progress has been happening on my 3d box project too. As I worked on this side of the box cube I remembered to take photos of my stages of work! Aren’t you proud I remembered?! This box is being painted in acrylic so it will be durable enough to be in a kids room, handled, sat on etc.

One of my friends, Becky Ross Michael who writes a wonderful blog Platform No. 4, asked me last week if I had ever done an artist book about my hearing experiences. I have!! I will rummage around for it and take photos or do a video of it for sharing here next week.

See you next Monday!

Art projects, busy family, games and deafness

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artist book, artistic inspirations, fine art, handmade books, illustrated poem, mental health, Odditerrarium, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking, words and pictures

My Odditerrarium exhibit is humming along nicely at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery! This week was another busy week and I’m grateful to have a Gallery collaborator who helps keep things going in many ways including with posts like this! What a nice way to show the pets that inspired the portraits in my exhibit!

Since I knew this week would be another busy one I carefully carved out some time to sketch. Because I’ve discovered I enjoy sharing step-by-step how I create my sketches I documented my sketchbook session and posted it here on my email newsletter. In the post I show the art supplies (like the NIL-TECH watercolor pencil set) and how I use them as well as how I got the idea for my sketch.

As you know from earlier posts I’ve been working on a new illustrated poetry book for Storyberries.com. Knowing I wouldn’t have much time to work I did “need to let it dry” kinds of tasks: I spray-fixed the pages and glued the still-raw boards for the book covers. In the last photo you see the small credit card sized book just before I set it up interlaced with wax paper and paperweights to dry while life happens.

Then a wonderful visit happened over three days with family! There were two college soccer games to attend in support of one family member. We ate in a number of locally owned restaurants. We went for a hike in a park. We played games of dominos well into the night. I didn’t photograph everything and I never managed to get everyone in the photos at the same time but this photo below was the most successful.

One family member was on the field being a goalie. Other family members were along sidelines taking photos of the action on the field. There were so many reasons we were seldom in the same places at the same time for a family photo. The games were active occasions!

The outdoor soccer games were also unseasonably warm and sunny, for the Pacific Northwest, as you can see below.

I wear two high powered hearing aids and have since I was 8 years old. My right ear is a bit better at hearing with hearing aids than my left one. I know well from past experiences that hearing aids are sensitive to heat, moisture and interference by hats – among many other things – so I try to be careful. I even remove my hearing aids before I use spray-fix on my art projects just in case.

Well, during the first soccer game I was enjoying listening to family members and the noisy hubbub of the game when suddenly everything went quiet as if a switch turned the sound off. My right ear was completely silent and I could barely hear, with the hearing aid in my left ear, the loud drums and shouting from the crowd. Immediately I told the family member who was talking to me that something had happened to my hearing aid. I told my wife too and excused myself to go to the car to see if I could replace a battery, adjust a setting that was knocked off by my hat or do something and get my hearing aid back on again. No such luck.

So I went back to the stadium and told my family that I’d be more deaf than usual the rest of the day. My hearing issue was no problem for anyone else, some sign language, repeating things patiently, and my lip reading skills could compensate. It was me that had a problem. In such scenarios I have FOMO, a Fear Of Missing Out. My family loves me and includes me in everything- I can trust and rely on that – it’s that they are all such good storytellers. They’re good storytellers in the literary sense of building suspense using nuances of wordplay, of voice tones and inflections, of playing shared family knowledge like a violin (in kind, gentle ways) while building towards a punchline. To miss some of the words or sentences means a high probability of missing the joke! If you know me at all you know how I love a good story so I had a serious case of FOMO!!! I didn’t want to miss any clever turn of phrase that would be said!

To cope with the FOMO I did my best to focus on the bigger picture of just enjoying their physical presence and to appreciate the things I did hear and let the rest go…and to just trust myself and them! I did my best to “catch the conversational drift” and add related stories of my own now and then. I tried to be as much a full participant as possible. It was hard at first to keep my FOMO from dropping down like a barricade between us but I leaned on trusting myself and everyone else. I imagined the conversation was a happy-accident style painting where an artist just trusts the creative process. I reminded myself that I like surrealism and nonsensical poetry – that I would be fine with things not being comprehensible. I recalled the art college essays I wrote about the artists John Cage, Rene Magritte, Joseph Cornell and Ray Johnson. I also remembered reading about Surrealism and Dadaist poetry and storytelling in addition to the art styles.

Later that day when we had dinner and as the evening cooled off my right hearing aid fluttered to a little more life. Not back to it’s normal power but I was glad of a wee bit more sound. After we were home I got out the hearing aid instructions and fiddled with the settings. During breakfast the next morning I fiddled with the settings some more and the second game day had a bit more – not normal but better- hearing in it. Still I practiced “just appreciating what I did hear” and “just trusting and loving”.

Here are some photos from the second soccer game of people I was just loving and trusting.

Our family soccer goalie is in the middle behind the fence. The 4 others are also family members.

And I found myself just enjoying our meals together and didn’t take photos. Except for this one at happy hour.

Stories got told over our domino games we had at our house till after midnight! In our quiet house I heard a bit more of the stories but it’s obvious that these hearing aids need repair! Will visit the hearing aid repair place asap!

So I learned this week that it really is true that “A little nonsense now and then is valued by the wisest people”, that art can help – even when it’s memories of art history essay papers, and also that just loving and trusting can lead to some of the happiest of experiences! What a great time I had with family!!!!

I hope your week is filled with love, trust and happiness too! See you next Monday.

Odditerrarium and the week

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, fine art, mental health, Odditerrarium, printed books, publications - publishing, Sustainable creativity

The week started with a whoosh! Vintage Books asked for more copies of Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit and asked me to sign them!!

Of course I did a drawing too because I’m  me and that’s what I do – in these copies I did a small self portrait. These can be ordered for shipping from Vintage Books to anywhere. Just tell them you want a signed one.

Since my wife and I were in the bookstore we had a good browse. My wife has her own book haul and here’s a photo of mine.

We got our covid booster shots and our flu shots at the same time. It was the appointment time available that fit (sortof) into our schedule. Felt tired and achy the first day but the next day, the day of my Odditerrarium art opening at Caplan Art Designs

… I felt punk. The house was 74 degrees but I was very shivery cold. Mostly I read The Hobbit (it’s in my books to cheer up by list) and napped. It felt very difficult to do the social media necessary for my exhibit. But I did my best.

Thank goodness for Amy and Steve at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery!!! They’re both kind, understanding people and they’re very talented at what they do. I appreciate both of them a whole lot in ordinary times but this week I appreciated them even more.

If you’re just catching up here’s the photo of my entire Odditerrarium series on the Gallery’s wall before the lables were added like you see in the pic with Amy and Steve.

Wow! Caplan Art Designs sold 8 of my paintings from my Odditerrarium series!! They sold some of my Odditerrarium artist books too!!! Thank you all again!! ❤❤
Odditerrarium continues through October.
More details about my Odditerrarium project here: https://sueclancy.com/portfolio/odditerrarium/ But these paintings below went to new happy homes!

By Friday afternoon I felt almost 100% back to normal! Not a bit was done this week on any of the other projects I’ve mentioned in my last post. I didn’t even do any playing in my sketchbook. Even so it was a good thing I felt back to normal Friday because we had planned an after the exhibit opening get-away.

So this weekend we had a delightful day with Rusty on the Oregon coast! Our long awaited date day consisted of a long leisurely windy walk along the Pacific ocean – and beers and burgers by the outdoor fire pit at Pelican brewing – Rusty had water with his very own burger patty, which we cut into small bites for him. Rusty enjoyed meeting so many dogs and we had fun conversations with the dog people. Many of the dogs were not easily identified as one breed and all were as darling as darling can be!

Anyway, a much needed relaxing day was had by all!! Of course art studio supervisor Rusty, and his staff, want to plan more such outings! And now I’m fascinated by mixed breed mutt dogs. I love the puzzle of them, the gentle humor of the look of them…

I hope your week is pleasant and that, if you have them, your beers and burgers are just the way you like them. See you next Monday

Cogitation, re-wilding ourselves and banned books

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, business of art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, fine art, illustrated recipe, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, mental health, Odditerrarium, poetry, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

I think a lot about thinking. So do cats I think. Here’s another painting in my Odditerrarium series for upcoming exhibit at Caplan Art Designs in October. My painting is titled “Cognition”. Sometimes it seems like brains are fish bowls with thoughts swimming about.

Here’s the sketchbook page that began my Odditerrarium series.

Besides forming a theory of mind as related to other living beings – I find it’s helpful in my creative life to keep notes, in a sketchbook/notebook, on things that happen in my life, things that catch my eye, my feelings, thoughts and responses to the world. My sketchbook/notebook becomes part of a collection of objects, photos, books, places etc that resonate with me in some way and yet may also be relatable to someone else. I think creativity is a way to connect with both ourselves and each other. To the elements of my ongoing collection I add my imagination…

… like in my current project for Nil-Tech I free-associated or imaginatively mixed a feeling experience in my life (of enjoying a coffee) with a real life cup from my kitchen and a photo of a dog. Almost everyone has has the experience of sinking into the relaxation of a pleasant beverage – almost like a hot tub – so it’s a safe bet that my feeling is relatable. A cup and a dog are common reference points too. Anyway, here’s a photo below and link to one of my videos on Nil-tech: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CitjpxIoBoO/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

My point here is that my system of getting creative ideas is a lot like cultivating a garden: carefully planting perennials, evergreens, planning to rotate annuals etc regular cultivation for ongoing use in cooking or decor. This helps me sustain my creativity over the long term. Also for sustainable creativity I find it helpful to keep an uncultivated wild patch or two, some experimental ground areas where anything goes and uncertainty reigns, where I’m in the classic “beginner mindset”, or in the spirit of a kid flopped on their belly coloring to their heart’s content with no thought of their scribbles being “good”. All of this in my mind when I say I’m re-wilding myself.

The term “re-wilding” typically refers to ecological conservation, a way of letting the land be naturally whatever it is as a way of restoring the ecosystem.

I really think we can do this with our minds too, we can re-wild ourselves and our own mental landscape, from time to time by allowing ourselves a more expansive diverse habitat of the mind, to sidestep our own habits, group-think, expectations and presumptions. To deliberately try a new methods or materials just to be playful. (Play, at any age, is necessary for good mental health.) As creative people re-wilding is a neccessary part of a creative life. Generally speaking re-wilding is allowing ourselves to play off-leash now and then so we can reconnect and restore ourselves.

I re-wild myself most regularly by reading and reading as widely as possible. I read banned books and obscure books — here’s a booklist of wild (and banned) books I’ve collected  https://bookshop.org/lists/banned-and-other-wild-books

I wrote over on A. M. Sketching about re-wilding ourselves and included this page from my published sketchbook “Another Sketchbook” as a reason why cultivating a mental life is helpful. For us creative types our mental lives are what we create with so the quality of our mental lives is also a precious piece of equipment.

Below are some more pages from Another Sketchbook with my reading techniques.

Here below is a picture of our household lion guarding a part of our library.

Here’s what the cover of Another Sketchbook looks like.

My 3d block project mentioned in my last post is coming along.

Another fun project currently in progress is also using ordinary things as prompts. I’m doing illustrations for a cookbook by Chef Kim Mahan! More on that as I go.

The experimental “re-wilding” projects I’m working on are two different poetry book projects. Possibly for Storyberries experimental art books section! Here’s a peek at my two projects. Both are about the size of a credit card when closed but they open out to about 20 inches long. The patterned and colored papers you see will possibly be the book covers of one book. I’ll share more as I go along.

I hope your week is wild in the best ways. See you next Monday.

My adopted Mom’s quilt and a searcher

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art prints, art supplies, art techniques, author illustrator, books, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, household surrealism, illustration, mental health, Odditerrarium, publications - publishing, published art, reading, sketchbook, whimsical art, words and pictures

This week the Aurora Gallery finished framing my adopted Mom’s quilt that I told you about in a prior post. Doesn’t the frame look great? We went right home and hung it in a special place!

Elizabeth Steinbaugh at the Aurora Gallery
Mom Penny Hoke’s quilt on our wall at home

As you see in the photo above – included in the frame is a piece of handmade paper on which I hand wrote Mom’s name and a bit about the quilt.

I also remembered a story related to the quilt theme of “knowing what it is when you pick it up” (details in this post). The story I remembered goes like this: A man holding a lit candle went looking for fire with which to cook his rice. It was a long search. If he had known what fire was or asked some questions when he began searching he could have cooked his rice a lot sooner.

Below is one of my Odditerrarium series paintings for the upcoming exhibit at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery. It’s titled “A Searcher”

This week we went for a browse at Vintage Books an independent bookstore a few miles from where we live. As I browsed I came across the local author shelves and was delighted to see a book I illustrated, “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”, right there on the shelf where I was browsing! What a fun surprise! It’s available via the bookstore website too!

Below is the book haul we came home with!

Below is a sketchbook drawing I did of two books I’m currently enjoying reading! I’ve added both of these titles to my public books to cheer up by book list here.

I enjoyed seeing this photo of a happy person with their dog with my artwork in the background at Canal District Wines this week and thought you’d enjoy it too. I’m thinking I want to do more art like this … I like the boldness and simplicity.

https://www.canaldistrictwines.com/

This project in progress below is a 3d cube 8 inches square that I’m doing for a holiday exhibit at Caplan Art Designs! I’m aiming for the used wooden toy block look – but with a dog theme.

My drawing marathon for NIL-TECH will start on Monday and run for a number of weeks! If you’ve followed my blog you’ve seen me working towards this… and now here it is! Drum roll please! Actually please follow NIL-TECH on their Instagram or Facebook pages so you can see the end results of all the practice you watched me do here on my blog! And thank you for cheering me on! Here’s the link to the 54 piece watercolor pencil set I’ll be using in my marathon. Wish me luck!

I hope your week is pleasant. See you next Monday.

Quilts, love and the importance of stories

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, creative thinking, fine art, life of the mind, mental health, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity

This week a box came from my sister that held a quilt our Mom was adamant that I have. Opening the box transported me instantly to my adopted Mom and Dad’s house. Love smells like old books, coffee, flowers, swimming pool chlorine, Mom’s soap and cleaning products, wine, champagne, cigars and cigarettes. Here’s what the quilt looks like.

As I wrote on my email newsletter I remember well over 25 years ago when this quilt was being created by both Mom and Dad. The quilt took some time to do so I saw it in several stages of production. During each visit Mom and Dad told stories and talked about ideas that relate to the quilt. Rather than completely repeating what I already shared – here’s the main story and…

…a related story…

…along with the truth as illustrated below that both the light and dark parts of ourselves are accepted – we may wish to be more careful about what parts of ourselves that we “pick up” or choose to feed. But no matter what we are accepted just the way we are. (Btw: These stories are are in this book)

There are other quilt related thoughts on my email newsletter A.M. Sketching but here’s a look at the frame and mat we chose at the Aurora Gallery. The just off white mat looks like fabric, woven texture and all. That was one thing I’d enjoyed about Mom, her use of textured fabrics around her house. The frame we chose is a teak wood which reminds both my spouse and I of Dad’s bookcases.

While we were at the Aurora Gallery I realized my current exhibit was still there. This photo is what I could see just by turning my head from where the quilt was spread out. It felt like Mom and Dad got to visit my exhibit. Yes, I teared up at the thought and no one at the Gallery minded.

Both Mom and Dad were unbelievably supportive of my artwork. My art was displayed constantly in their house. So it feels extremely proper that their artwork will soon be displayed prominently in our house! According to the Gallery it will take about 2 weeks until the frame is ready. We already have a place of honor for it in our living room.

Over 15 years ago, during my Abstract art phase, Mom asked me to make a piece for a particular place in their house. Spirals, dots and piano keys were my visual interrelated motifs, each element feeding other elements… I titled it “Food For Thought”. It was about storytelling, the arts and feeding our minds and hearts. My mixed media painting was a response to the quilt and the quilt related stories.

Here’s “Food For Thought” as it was displayed in Mom and Dad’s house many years ago.

All of the above has me thinking of the importance of stories more generally. I’m painfully aware that book writers, illustrators, publishers, educators and librarians are currently under attack – and that books are being removed from public access. I’m feeling an urgency to support local bookstores and the general awareness of books that encourage creative people. So I’ve begun keeping a few publicly available book lists here on Bookshop.org – online book sales there benefit independent bookstores and a small benefit to affiliated people who keep book lists. We create the world together. I learned that too from Mom Penny and Dad.

Ursula K. LeGuin, an author Mom, Dad and I enjoyed together, says it extremely well.

This is why I value the idea of democracy and a nonviolent society. Democracy is the ideal of creating a civilization rooted in free thinking, in equality, in equal access to ideas, to a society based on rule of law, to fact based evidence, transparency, and the right to explore ideas without having to tiptoe on eggshells in fear of some authority figures displeasure, without fear of violence from those who disagree. To create society based on the stories we tell ourselves and each other rather than via the whims of a strongman, or fists or other weapons. Stories can be dangerous enough… part of growing up (or of good therapy) is to learn to distinguish helpful stories from the unhelpful ones. To learn this valuable lesson one needs access to a wide array of thoughts. As this article says “….if we lose our librarians, we lose a core element of our democracy.”

Anyway, all of this was swirling in my head along with my memories of Mom and Dad, storytellers both, and I cried. After I subsided a bit my spouse gently asked if a visit to a bookstore would feel good. I said yes so off we went to Broadway Books. When we entered the store a clerk asked if she could help. I asked for some hopepunk books, books with gentleness and kindness in them. Quickly a book of essays by Ross Gay was handed to me followed by 3 fiction titles. Here’s a selfie of me waiting in the fiction section while the clerk looked up another title. She was so kind!

After a good browse we were at the counter paying for our books. Since we’d gotten so many books they gave us a thick cloth bag to hold them all. I teared up suddenly remembering how Mom made thick reusable cloth bags long before they were normal in stores. Mom even made cloth bags with drawstrings for use when wrapping presents rather than using paper. Whenever we had our lunch meetings at restaurants Dad would bring his Mom-made cloth bag with books in it and I would bring my Mom-made cloth bag with my sketchbook and other books… So there I was standing at the Broadway Books checkout counter with tears running down into my mask. Again no one minded. Everyone was so kind! I waited until we were outside to take my mask off to wipe my eyes and blow my nose.

Here’s the stack of books we came home with.

So I think we chose well. As both Mom and Dad often said “Stories, for better or worse, inform how we relate to our own emotions and experiences”.

Specifically I found this book and it’s chapter about dealing with grief while getting on with one’s creative life to be helpful. Here’s a link for it on my new Bookshop.org page. (Fyi: I’m probably going to mention more often the books I’m finding helpful…)

Here’s a recent sketchbook page… Mom and Dad had cats, Mom liked orchids…

I hope your week is full of love, kind people and helpful stories. See you next Monday.