Crows, cookies and thinking in the Odditorium

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, fine art, household surrealism, magic realism, mental health, Odditorium, Sustainable creativity, travel art and writing, whimsical art, words and pictures

One of the gifts of travel is the awareness that things don’t have to be what you’re used to in order to be enjoyable.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 I’ve been looking at household things with the eye of a traveler. I’m practicing being okay with things as they are, seeing them in new ways and enjoying them – like how I would enjoy things on a trip. Along the way it occurred to me that domestic arrangements are one place in life where things can be more or less to our preferences. Home is a place of fairly reliable comforts. There’s a gift of comfort in that.

The sketchbook I began this, ahem, journey in has been published as Another Sketchbook.  I decided at first to view household things as if they were public monuments, things we might travel to see. Then I decided that was too distant…the people too small and far away. Then I decided I didn’t want to draw people after all because animals feel more comforting. Anyway, here are a few pages from Another Sketchbook…I’m hoping you can see how I got to my present Odditorium art series via this trail.

Here below is the book cover and a link where you can look through the entire book.

https://www.blurb.com/b/10134263-another-sketchbook-by-clancy

Of course after publishing Another Sketchbook I’ve kept on keeping a sketchbook. I post these new pages now and then on my social media. Here’s a few pages from my new sketchbook that are relevant to the painting you’ll see in this post.

While musing about the crows I often see in my yard I thought of how the kitchen gadgets I have are so useful. And I love herbs and spices – especially those from Penzeys. So I took a photo of the kitchen tools and spices I was about to use at that moment.

Then as the days progressed I began a new acrylic painting full of my thoughts about my ongoing efforts to dance and appeal, so to speak, to the various gods of good-food cooking. My spouse snapped this photo of me working.

As I worked I tried a new-to-me color scheme that includes magenta, an orange-red, a light pink, grass green, a grey-blue and a creamy yellow. The crows aren’t really black there’s a lot of dark purple and deep blues to their feathers. The color nuance shows more when you see the painting with a human eye. I have another camera that shows more of the color range that I use when taking pictures of the art for publication. Anyway, I’ve titled this new painting Domestic Comforts

Domestic Comforts by Clancy- 8 x 18 inches- acrylic and collage on board

Another thing I keep thinking about is the different speed of time at home. When traveling in the past I have tended to be very rushed and scheduled. But at home and in my art studio, which is in my house, I tend to be scheduled but usually much less rushed. In fact for quite some time – even before the pandemic – I have intentionally tried to maintain the habit of a steady but relaxed pace in my studio and home. Sustainability of energy is my focus. No, I don’t do this perfectly it’s an ongoing goal. During the pandemic this goal has strengthened as I’ve realized this habit also maintains a critical space for long-form thinking.

Long form thinking is a term usually applied to reading and literacy. It’s a discussion of cultivating the ability to pay attention. There’s an article by James Patterson here and another related article here on the long form thinking as it relates to literacy.

This reminds me of what Dr Bob said in Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit about attention “what do we get when we pay attention? The power to choose.”

I think of the term long form thinking as applying more generally to creative efforts that stretch over a longer span of time. The actual work may be done in fits and starts or in short bursts of actual hands on time but a thought is held in mind, come what may, over an extended time period. Long-form thinking, in my opinion, allows for a sustained leisurely attitude towards time for art, for reading and writing.  Creativity requires time to meander and travel in ones mind – even while cooking dinner or mowing the lawn one plays with the thought topics currently being considered.

Long-form thinking purposefully includes time for making homemade cookies or any other bits of meandering fun. This week I tried a cinnamon sugar cookie recipe. I cut this recipe in half, dumped all the ingredients in my Cuisinart (kitchen gadget!) blended the dough and otherwise followed the recipe directions.

The cookies turned out very yummy!! As hinted above taking the time to read books is an essential part of my creative process – with or without hot from the oven cookies and hot chocolate. Here’s one of the books I’m reading…

My art is a part of my life and vice versa. Creativity is a continuous thing I’m committed to doing within and amongst all of the various domestic concerns and that’s-life stuff.

In fact I view the public aspect of my creative life of making artist books and art exhibits as like the game of musical chairs. I do steady continuous studio work then about a month before the fine art exhibit goes up the music stops. As in the hands on action of creating paintings temporarily stops, and I start framing, photographing, publishing everything I finished up to that point.

It is exciting as I frame and publish the artwork to both see and feel my Odditorium series coming together. The work that I began last year will be exhibited this year in June and July at Burnt Bridge Cellars and when my work is on their walls that will add to my ongoing Odditorium thoughts. Then there’s another exhibit at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery in September. After delivering art to Burnt Bridge Cellars later this month the music (active painting) starts again – specifically the thoughts I have when seeing my works hung together will inspire more work in the series. Then I will begin making the new art in this Odditorium series with an eye towards the next exhibit. Some of the art at Burnt Bridge Cellars along with the freshly made new art will go to Caplan Art Designs when the music stops again at the end of August. This is the way my exhibits grow and travel.

So yes I like long-form thinking. I like projects that stretch over a years time. This allows me to explore a topic from several angles as well as to change my approach as I’ve described in this post. It’s risky as I don’t know at the beginning where my thoughts will go. Plus I do all of the hands on work in short bursts of time each day so I “live in” small slices of my thoughts. My sketchbook is the way I both develop the exhibit idea and keep track of my thoughts – but still the uncertainty is there. I’ve just learned to ride with it.

My long-form working process is like reading a long novel –  when you have a few minutes you read a paragraph or a page or two a day. When you begin reading you’ve no idea where the book is going. But if you keep reading a bit per day pretty soon you’ve read the whole book and you know the book conclusion.  Same goes with creating an art exhibit.

There’s an excellent article here about the counterculture of commitment. It describes well what I’m talking about. I see this concept of long-form thinking (aka commitment) as similar to the idea of slow food/ home cooked food but about the subject of creativity. Inherent in this notion is the acceptance that things can develop slowly over time and that slowness allows for uncertainty and changes of mind.

I have a quote by Christopher Morley thumbtacked to my art studio wall. The quote applies, in my view anyway, to ones sense of time and space too.

It’s okay maybe even good to be a little odd. It’s not a goal to have domestic life or travel or art projects or life in general be perfect. The goal is to have the coping skills to deal well with imperfections when they happen. To be able to do the domestic dances and appeal well enough to the gods (metaphorically) of home cooking. Or to the gods of plumbing or whatever the household issues may be. To be relaxed and calm enough that one’s able to see the solutions, comforts and enjoyments near to hand. This is my approach to art projects too. Slow but steady, to have the coping skills to fix artistic mistakes, to adjust, to try something new.

Since this month began – besides framing the artwork a bit per day – I’ve been creating an exhibit catalog, a coffee table picture book of my exhibit. Last year during the worst of the pandemic it seemed to please fans of my artwork that they were able to get a printed book or an ebook of my entire art exhibit. So that’s why I’m doing a book this year too.

Additionally I’m doing a few greeting cards and coffee mugs with my art from this series. Both the cards and mugs are in keeping with the root idea of my Odditorium series – taking an uncommon view of ordinary household things and surreally creating souvenirs of pleasant moments. Here below is an example of a note card with the artwork  I wrote about in my last post.

Crow with Pen note card – https://www.zazzle.com/crow_with_pen_note_card-256278283808038581

Yes, the temptation to stress, to worry, to rush is there, especially as the day nears to deliver all of the artwork. But I remember those pre-pandemic travels when I rushed mightily because the day the trip ended was coming nearer and I didn’t want to miss anything … what I remember now of those trips isn’t the scenery or the food but the stress and rush. So I try to remain calm now and go slowly as I continue towards the exhibit. And I rest knowing my thinking-work will continue …

Thanks for reading! I hope you have many enjoyable domestic comforts  this week – and if you try the cookies I hope you like them. See you next Monday?

The minutest concerns: poems, love, books and odd balls

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, fine art, household surrealism, magic realism, mental health, Patch La Belle, poetry, sketchbook, This Rabbit, Uncategorized, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

This week in household surrealism I’ve been thinking of love. Love in the sense of the poetry, the food, the care for and cleaning of things, generally creating a gentle environment for ourselves and others. Perhaps an environment also filled with souvenirs of loving moments as I wrote in my last post.

My recent children’s book This Rabbit was about knowing what you like. Well, this week I’ve been thinking about how it can take practice as adults to remember to let ourselves love openly, wholeheartedly and to unabashedly enjoy things.

Among these thoughts is the fact that tulips are in bloom when I live in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a photo from my spouse’s garden.

In the morning sometimes I read a bit of poetry while having my breakfast and coffee. The photo below is a poem by Mary Oliver, from “New and Selected Poems Vol 1”, I see this poem as talking about wholeheartedly living life. A life well lived is lived bit by bit in thousands and thousands of mundane moments. Many of those moments (even in pre-pandemic times) happen at home.

Letting oneself wholeheartedly enjoy and love little parts of daily life – why is that so hard? Perhaps as adults we get caught up in the “gotta do’s” as I call them. We sometimes almost chain-smoke, metaphorically, one gotta-do duty after another forgetting that love and pleasure is often part of the reason we do things. By contrast it feels good to pay attention to whatever interests you and revel in that focused moment. This wholehearted enjoyment is a way to be gentle  and loving to yourself and the people you love. Anyway, I thought of that while I doodled in my sketchbook.

Then I worked several days in a row to flesh out my thought using acrylic paint on cradled board. Yes, this is another piece destined for upcoming art exhibits at Burnt Bridge Cellars and at Caplan Art Designs.

Below is the finished painting I titled “The Minutest Concerns”.

The label on the bottle of cleaning fluid the mouse is using in my painting is actually a bit of collage. I’ve been using a falling apart copy of Jan Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice as my collage source. (See my last posts here and here for details)

As I worked I also thought about and reread a passage in a book I illustrated titled “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit“. The passage reads “love is clarity of perception and accuracy of response”. 

Basically, in the bigger universal sense, things are okay, you are okay, and it’s okay to relax and enjoy just being yourself and liking and loving the world around you.

For example this photo below is part of my world that I love; I love picking up one of the books and reading a bit, I love just looking at the books on the shelves and I even love dusting them. Of course I confess that often I get distracted and stop dusting to read 😁

I love having lots of books so much that it feels like heaven. So I did this drawing and made a print of it…just in case someone else feels the same way. (This is part of the gift making I talked of last post) Even if I’m the only person who feels like this making a drawing and a print was a fun way to fully enjoy and love the feeling.

Books are all we know of heaven – an art print by Clancy –https://society6.com/product/books-are-all-we-know-of-heaven4207368_framed-print?sku=s6-18617343p21a12v52a13v54

I also love the challenge of cooking. It took me a while to figure it out but I can now reliably make meatballs to store in the freezer for use whenever the odd meatball is wanted with pasta or rice or roasted vegetables.

Here’s my recipe as written in my kitchen sketchbook. Yes, this is another souvenir of love! Books and sketchbooks are the best souvenirs!

My sketchbook page will still be there long after the meatballs have all been eaten! Plus I can share this sketchbook page with people and thereby share the love.

That’s part of what I love about poetry, books, gardens and art they each nourish one’s spirit and are shareable. They’re part of how we know we’re loved and part of how we love other people and how we remember to love ourselves and the world around us. They’re part of how we connect emotionally with each other.

A dear friend loaned me this book “The 3000 Mile Garden”. It’s a wonderful almost voyeristic view of two people sharing their love of food and gardens with each other. And we readers get to see their intimate exchange of letters! The book has hand drawn maps and photos too! It’s a fun evening read.

These are the sorts of thoughts that inspire me as I work on my new household surrealism fine art series that I’m titling “Odditorium”. In addition to the art itself I’m also working on an exhibit statement- which is kindof like the synopsis on book covers – a short paragraph or two to interest viewers and help them understand what I’ve created. Wish me luck at crafting the sentences?

Anyway, I hope this week that you’ll remember to allow yourself to love whatever is commonplace in your world. See you next Monday?

P.S. my book Patch La Belle is going to be featured on Kidz Stories And More – and I’m excited!! I will update my social media and this space when I have a link to share… Here’s the link to the read-aloud video they made!! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rOyqdg0WUjQ

This Rabbit likes good eggs

A Creative Life, Alphapets, Alphapets Too, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, Art Word Combinations, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, creative thinking, fine art, greeting cards, humor in art, illustration, life of the mind, mental health, Numpurrs, printed books, publications - publishing, rabbits in art, Sustainable creativity, This Rabbit, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing, writing and illustrating

This Rabbit, my newest children’s book, is now a free ebook and audiobook on Storyberries.com! How fun is that? Click here to both see the book and/or listen to it read aloud! Basically This Rabbit is now officially available worldwide! Wahoo!

The Aurora Gallery also now has my signed books – This Rabbit being one title – along with a number of the original illustrations from the books framed and on the Gallery walls!

For example the Numpurrs book and some of the artworks in that book are there at the Aurora Gallery too.

Also framed are a few of the original illustrations for This Rabbit….and for Alphapets and Alphapets Too. (More about each of these books in my portfolio)

Since rabbits can deliver more than just treats for kids this time of year in addition to making lots of rabbits for a children’s book I’ve also made a collection of my rabbits available on my Zazzle shop. These are intended as fun gifts for grownups; greeting cards, jigsaw puzzles and coffee mugs. (The photos below are a small sample of what’s available on my shop.)

A note card: https://www.zazzle.com/my_heart_is_with_you_note_card-256344942961836795
Jigsaw puzzle: https://www.zazzle.com/rabbit_sax_jigsaw_puzzle-116637967822588564
Mug: https://www.zazzle.com/hares_to_hot_beverages_and_comforts_mug-168629126897898357

Since we’re nearing Easter naturally my thoughts turn from rabbits to eggs. This week I tried, in the name of I’m-to-busy-to-cook, a sheet pan breakfast with eggs, bacon, green bell peppers and sweet potato chunks. It worked reasonably well … one set of eggs got a little more firm than I like but everything – including the eggs – were quite enjoyably edible. And enjoyably edible counts!

This week I rearranged the most important bookshelf in my house: the one in the bathroom. It seems that the average person spends 1 hour and 42 minutes per week in the bathroom. Or to put it another way during an average lifetime we will spend at least 92 full days in the john. Might as well use that time for some encouraging reading. Here below is a photo of my bathroom bookshelf. The purple ceramic thing serves as a bookend as well as holding the extra roll of TP.

For the same reason I have inspiring books in my bathroom – notice all the books by Austin Kleon! – I also like having good artwork there too. Keeping good books and art where they’re viewed often is a way to keep my own creativity sustainable. The framed art you see in this photo is by another Pacific Northwest artist named Jill Mayberg https://jillmayberg.com/ I like the colors and textures in Jill’s work.

We’re here, so we might as well get comfortable. Reading books about writing and creativity are where we learn about, and practice, being human. I’ve written elsewhere in this blog (see links here and here) about the similarities I see between the creative acts of writing and making fine art. Verbal storytelling, writing, drawing and reading are such quintessentially human activities. Are we completely human if we don’t do those things?

These thoughts are why I find it such fun to depict animals reading books and doing other typically human behaviors – it’s my way of pondering what in means to be fully human.

Btw: there are more animals besides rabbits running around in my brain now. The new critters are getting comfortable too. As I wrote in my last post I’ve been thinking about human development and about dealing with feelings. I’ve also been thinking about Jane Austen and her descriptions of emotions within her novels.

Anyway, I’ll keep thinking and drawing… Share more with you next Monday? Oh, and Happy Easter, aka Rabbit-delivers-fun-things-day, in advance. [Thanks again Kris and Nan for this stuffed rabbit!]

This rabbit likes books and breakfast

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, book design and layout, books, home hare care, illustration, mental health, poetry, printed books, publications - publishing, published art, rabbits in art, story, This Rabbit, visual story, visual thinking, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing, writing and illustrating

My newest artist book for children “This Rabbit” is rolling out! It’s a whimsical look at self-awareness with lots of different rabbits liking a variety of things. As I mentioned in my last post “This Rabbit” shares a cover design similarity with some of my other artist books that also have a bunch of different characters exploring a life concept. In the photo below you can see the covers for my series of books.

Here’s a closer look at the hardcover version of “This Rabbit

https://www.blurb.com/b/10612530-this-rabbit

And here’s a look at the page design. I made the artwork large so that it mostly fills each page with a small space at the bottom for the poem lines.

More of the inside of “This Rabbit” can be seen on my portfolio page here or as a preview on the page where the book can be ordered here

Book signing during a pandemic is a challenge. I’m solving that in a few ways and one of those is by placing a few signed books at the Aurora Gallery. Some of the original artwork for many of my books is there too. In the photo below is an assortment of books signed and destined for the Aurora Gallery. https://auroragalleryonline.com/

And while I waited this week for my copies of “This Rabbit” to arrive from the printer I worked in my sketchbook and over short bursts of time towards a new painting using all of my recent rabbit research. This painting is one of several that will be in new art exhibits later this year.

While working this week I was thinking about human development. In addition to learning what you like as one lives you also learn and practice attention to your feelings. With that in mind I’ve been thinking of what Dr Bob says in the book I illustrated some time ago…”feelings are guides not gods to be obeyed“. For example we’ve all done things like cleaning up yucky messes even when we didn’t feel like doing it at the time – but once it was done we were glad it had been done. So we’re capable of using our executive brain to decide when to listen to our feelings and when to go ahead and do something despite our feelings.

In the picture above is my breakfast: overnight oats (made in a small wide mouth mason jar) along with coffee. And here’s a recipe article link about this quick-easy meal. I like quick-easy breakfasts so I can spend more time in the morning drinking coffee, reading and sketching.

In the photo below I’m working (after breakfast) on a new painting. There’s a collage bit in it from the falling apart copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that I’d talked about in another post.

Here below is what the new painting became: “Attention To The Feelings” – 12 x 9 – acrylic and collage on board.

“Attention To The Feelings” – by Clancy – 12 x 9 inches – acrylic and collage on board

One of my favorite authors who write about sketching and creative efforts is Danny Gregory. Here’s what he wrote about dealing with feelings in his book “Art Before Breakfast” :

This is inner-voice phenomen is true for any creative effort. Including trying a new recipe for breakfast.

So please be gentle with yourself and the other people in your life this week. We’re all just muddling though trying to remember what we like, trying to pay attention to our feelings – but not too much attention – and trying to regularly eat a good meal.

See you here next Monday? Hope so…

This Rabbit some lunch and books

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, Books In Art, fine art, graphic design, home hare care, illustrated recipe, mental health, poetry, printed books, publications - publishing, published art, rabbits in art, reading in art, recipe illustration, visual story, visual thinking, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing, writing and illustrating

This week was filled with photographing my illustrations for a new children’s book tentatively titled “This Rabbit” (as I wrote last week). Then I uploaded the photos checking the digital images against the original artwork for accuracy of color. Sometimes I had to retake a photo.

Once all of the illustrations were digitally correct, more or less, I uploaded them into the software I use to make the printed books. My art studio supervisor cat, as you can see, helped with the process.

What I’m aiming for as I process the photos: I want to make an album of my fine artwork that just happens to be for kids. Kids need fine art too, in my opinion. So I’m striving for digitally capturing as much of the range of color and detail in the original artwork as possible. No camera or screen matches the capability of the human eye but I do the best with what I’ve got. I’m also trying to keep the soft feel of the original artwork on the off-white handmade papers.

My root idea with this new book “This Rabbit” is cultivating the skill of enjoying the many things there are to like and do. So that is always in the back of my mind as I work.

Here are the two poem lines I wrote to go with the two illustrations below:

This rabbit likes pretty pearls

This rabbit likes doing curls

This rabbit likes pretty pearls
This rabbit likes doing curls

After the photos of all 32 illustrations were digitized to suit me, it takes me a lot of time to do the digitizing to suit because I am the original Ms. Picky, but when I had the images as I wanted them then I worked on the books graphic layout and design. As I proceed with the layout/design part of this project I may need to take new photos of some of the artwork depending on how they look as I place them side by side in the book design … we will see how things go.

This new book is part of a series of children’s books I’m creating. So it will have a have similar cover design (and other format elements) to fit with the book series. However, for “This Rabbit” I decided to make the illustration images on each page larger, filling two thirds of the page or perhaps a bit more, filling almost to the three edges of each page.

I chose this layout because I’ve included small details within many of the artworks that might be missed if the images were smaller. My poem text is one single line within a small white space on the bottom of each page.

I will serialize some of “This Rabbit” on my Instagram page and give you more details of my working process (and my creative life) here on this blog each week.

Anyway, now you know what a busy week I’ve had. Needless to say lunches were quick-fix affairs. Like this broccoli pasta dish.

Here’s the recipe – a loose guide or philosophy really rather than a recipe. When I made the dish this week I used short pasta and added spinach. But the rest of the recipe was followed. It’s a recipe from my Favorites So Far kitchen sketchbook.

Copies of Favorites So Far are available here:
https://www.blurb.com/b/9759759-favorites-so-far

Despite being busy I still carved out time to read most evenings. In my last post I was still reading “The Mexican Tree Duck” by James Crumley. I finished that book and loved it! I’ll miss the main character Sughrue. Sughrue was a decent guy, a good friend to other characters in the story, someone who cared. I liked that! Crumley’s character and his writing style will be a hard act to follow.

As I cast about for which book to read next I realize that I want another protagonist with a strong decency streak. Not moralistic, self righteous, preachy or anything like that. I want a character who is just plain caring and kind. Even if they have flaws, faults and difficulties I want there to be a core of goodness, a sense of concern for their community, at the heart of the main character.

I’m ready for the good people to win a few … damnit!

So from my book shelves I pulled this book selection for consideration: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers, Rumpole A La Carte by John Mortimer and Death of A Bore by M. C. Beaton.

A few more cups of coffee and I’ll decide which book to read more of later after my working day is done.

See you next Monday with more of my progress on “This Rabbit”? (And yes…so far my working title has stuck.)

Leaf fabric, greeting cards, books and rabbits

A Creative Life, animals in art, Art Word Combinations, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, fabric design, functional art, greeting cards, illustrated recipe, kitchen art, mental health, pattern design, printed books, product design, publications - publishing, published art, rabbits in art, sketchbook, small things, surface design, visual story, visual thinking, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

In a prior post I showed a fabric design in progress. This week I got a fabric swatch proof, pictured below, which I approved and have made publicly available now. I like the bright colors of it.

In the most recent children’s book I illustrated, Pembral Forgets, I used a leaf motif thought the book.  The story Steve Tubbs wrote was about fall leaves. good food and a mother’s love. So as I was doing a version of the leaf motif for fabric naturally my thoughts ran towards the possibilities of the leaf fabric as napkins and table runners – things for kitchens. Anyway, the fabric is on my Spoonflower shop now as well as on the Pembral Forgets portfolio page.

https://www.spoonflower.com/en/home-decor/dining/table-runner/11145198-leaves-from-pembral-by-sueclancy

In my last post I talked of using things I enjoy as a guide for subject matter in my art.

Well, that also applies to the types of creative pursuits to which I choose to apply my artwork. For example I’ve been thinking for some time now about how much I enjoy sending and receiving greeting cards in the snail mail.

In the photo below you’re looking at my fireplace at home and the cards I’ve gotten by mail displayed there on the mantel. Some are handmade cards. Some are vintage cards. Some are postcards and folded cards found in stores. I like them all and love the connections with the people who sent them!

I have dabbled in card making most of my life. But only in the last few years have I been semi serious about it. This week, however, I had the thought “What if greeting cards are little illustrated story books?” and my dabbling is suddenly more focused.

Below are a few of my greeting cards which are now on my Zazzle shop here. Some of my cards have rabbit characters but there are other animals too.

I want to make more cards now, for many reasons. But I realized this week that there’s a big reason: my pleasant memories of whenever my adopted Mom, Dad and I met in a bookstore cafe for lunch.

In addition to looking at the books no visit was complete without a visit to the greeting card section of the store. Dad was a psychiatrist and he used to tell me that sometimes when he had a patient with depression he would prescribe weekly visits to stores that sold greeting cards. He would ask that the patient write down descriptions of the cards that amused them to share in future appointments with him. Bonus points (so to speak) if they bought a card and mailed it to someone.

So yes, I want to make more cards in addition to my other artwork – in the “Hi Mom and Dad. 👋” sense of things as well as for my “help others share their stories” sensibility with which I run my creative business.

(Btw: this reasoning is why I do my fabric designs too)

Anyway you’re the first to see the whole collection of cards I’ve done so far. Plus these below…

https://www.zazzle.com/hoppy_birthday_card-256207685042397378
https://www.zazzle.com/hoppy_birthday_card-256207685042397378
https://www.zazzle.com/nurse_cat_folded_note_card-256284055535885605
https://www.zazzle.com/nurse_cat_folded_note_card-256284055535885605
https://www.zazzle.com/good_wishes_rabbits_greeting_card-256150049299175963
https://www.zazzle.com/good_wishes_rabbits_greeting_card-256150049299175963

Needless to say I’ve been busy this week. Fortunately I made a big batch of my “Simple Sauce” and stored it in a jar in my fridge for quick easy to prepare meals. Naan bread makes such a nice pizza crust: just spread on a spoonful of sauce, chop and add desired toppings then bake in a 425 degree oven.

My “Simple Sauce” recipe is in my kitchen sketchbook Favorites So Far. The whole book can be previewed here and you’re welcome to capture my recipe below.

https://www.blurb.com/b/9759759-favorites-so-far
https://www.blurb.com/b/9759759-favorites-so-far

For one meal my spouse and I were in the mood for bell peppers, onions and olives on the Naan bread crust. Yummy!

Speaking of good things, books and rabbits: I’m starting a new children’s book. One question I get asked “which comes first the art or the words?” and in the case of this new book the art largely came first. Here’s an array of the illustrations I’ve done so far along with my legal pad on which I’m scribbling book text drafts by hand using my fountain pen. More about this project in future posts.

More too about a new painting currently in progress…

Hope your week is full of your favorites too. See you next Monday?

A box for Pembral Forgets

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, fine art, food in art, handmade books, handmade papers, illustration, mental health, Narrative Art, Pembral Forgets, printed books, publications - publishing, published art, sketchbook, surface design, Sustainable creativity, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures

A horrible but predictable insurrection happened in the US last week. My book shaped box to hold the original artwork for Pembral Forgets was at the needs-to-dry stage the day before, so Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the day of the attempted coup, I nervously read a lot of news. And thought of how a seditious insurrection was the inevitable outcome of the right-wing rhetoric of the last several weeks, months, years. But I don’t want to blog on that…. after time spent on the news Wednesday I drew in my sketchbook and read fiction to give myself a mental space from the violent seditious insurrection, to calm down and think.

So on to a more pleasant topic: here’s a few photos of the printed and bound version of Pembral Forgets – you can see more on my portfolio page. The print book is available on Blurb here.

The printed book is slightly different from the original artist book. Same content just a different presentation and minor differences in the book-info pages and, most obviously, the cover. There’s several reasons for this: an original artist book can only be enjoyed in person. And we’re in a pandemic so going to galleries isn’t an option for most people. Multiple printed books can be mailed directly to someone and can be enjoyed by many.

Yet when I create a book to be printed and widely enjoyed I still end up with a physical one-of-a-kind set of paintings. Since I’m a fine artist first and foremost I gravitate towards making things that can be hung on walls or displayed on stands/shelves. But see aforementioned pandemic which has made the use of other means of art production and distribution i.e. Blurb.com or Zazzle.com or Society6.com or Spoonflower.com on-demand shops helpful.

Even so I love making handmade boxes and used to regularly make them for the artist Deloss McGraw and others. So I look for excuses to make boxes…and am loving this box for Pembral Forgets!

Below is a series of photos of the box for Pembral Forgets that you saw a bit of in my last post. In this first photo I have laid the naked box on the handmade hand stenciled paper that I’ll use to cover the box. I lay the box on the paper and try to position it so the paper will be placed well when I glue it on.

I “mark” my choice of placement by creasing the paper slightly. Pencil marks would show through this delicate paper.

Glue is applied to the paper within the crease “marks”, the open box is laid onto the glue, then the box now loosely covered with glue-y paper is gently closed. I use a roller to press the paper firmly in place, wiping away any excess glue. Next, as in the photo below, I add glue to the flaps of paper and fold them around the edges of the box using a bone folder to get the creases smooth.

Then after carefully gluing all edges I turned the box over to check the paper placement.

Inserting wax paper allows me to close the just glued box without accidentally gluing the box shut.

At this point, Tuesday evening, I let the book box dry for a few days. It will be dry to the touch within hours but I have learned the hard way that too much handling too soon can cause the paper to slip.

Then the next day saw the news of the insurrection…

Here’s the fiction book I read as a spirit restorative…

The beverage in the picture is Clancy’s Special Chocolate and here’s the sketchbook drawing I did about how to make it. Whenever I feel stressed it helps to draw whatever is in front of me.

In case you wonder: I get my archival glue and other book-box-making supplies from Twinrocker.com

A helpful technique book about making boxes by hand is by Franz Zeier titled Books, Boxes and Portfolios; binding, construction and design step by step.

There’s still more to do on this project. So I hope to see you here next Monday after, hopefully, a more quiet week – but I know it’s not likely to be quiet here in the US – but no matter what kind of week it is I wish you some calm creative moments.

A coffee a book and a bun

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As we fast approach the deadline for shipping presents I begin to oogle the coffee, the tea and the buns. Let the Jolabokaflod begin! Let the hot chocolate flow! Bring out the books!

Here’s a quick meme to explain what Jolabokaflod is in case you’ve not yet had the pleasure…

My family officially begins our Jolabokaflod festivities around the 13th or so of December – if not earlier. Okay, truth be told, we celebrate Jolabokaflod all December long.

We did this in the pre-pandemic Before Times because by mid December most of the art gallery exhibit openings and parties have already happened. So we could enjoy ourselves with more time to read books. This pandemic year things are, well, weird. So I’m reveling in the Jolabokaflod normalcy. Plus the whole idea of Jolabokaflod is tailor made for a pandemic.

The following books are all books that were Jolabokaflod gifts, starting in early December. These are the ones that have been opened already.

Whiskey Galore by Compton Mackenzie was a surprise in the mail gift from my spouse who knew I had wanted my own copy. I’d read the library copy several times and had listed this title as a “book to cheer up by”. This book paired well with English Breakfast tea blend and candied orange slices. And occasionally had a shot of whiskey on the side.

A friend suggested, and gifted, by no-contact dropoff, “The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter” because it was a book she really enjoyed. I paired this book with a strong French Roast coffee regularly and added this book to my “fun lighthearted reads list”. The cinnamon bread was good with it too! Now my spouse is reading this one…so we’ll not say more about the book.

And then another friend said one of his favorite authors is James Crumley and he mailed a copy of Dancing Bear to me. I opened it and was hooked right from the start. I read the first 3 chapters without hardly being able to put the book down. I did, however, at some point manage to tear myself away from the book and make a hot chocolate to go with my reading.

Naturally my sketchbook figures in prominently this time of year too. It’s a book too so I include it in the festival! And I see Jolabokaflod generally as a chance to doodle and play and share books with friends and read with no strings attached.

When reading books or sketching I like to have a coaster or Mug Mats as I call them under my cup so that my beverages don’t moisten a table or a book. Consequently my sketching practice lately has run to making coasters too… here’s a collection of my Mug Mat designs https://www.zazzle.com/collections/mug_mats-119756908126091756

Also as part of my sketchbook practice I’ve written a short story that explains what happens to beverages when you’re reading. It’s like this:

In case you’ve wondered where the coffee goes: There are tiny rabbits, who creep up while you’re busy reading, install a drain spigot on the side of your cup and dispense coffee to the entire tiny rabbit crew. When your cup has been completely drained they remove and repair the spigot hole and run away.

All of this happens so fast you usually can’t see it – you’re left with the “I swear I’d just poured myself a cup of coffee and now it’s gone” sensation.

Watch for the tiny rabbits. Here’s a new odd mug to help…

https://www.zazzle.com/where_the_coffee_goes_mug-168824736751818592

Yes, I enjoy the pun of putting artwork about books and coffee onto a mug. It seemed so right for Jolabokaflod this year. Here’s a look at the original artwork off the mug, so to speak:

And while thinking my thoughts about tiny rabbits and coffee I did a related fabric design called “coffee and a bun” on my Spoonflower shop https://www.spoonflower.com/designs/10924656-coffee-bun-by-sueclancy

Here below is a closer look at my design

Tiny rabbits like to hide in fabric things like placemats and pillows. In the photo below the tiny rabbits are somewhat hidden. They’re lounging and drinking coffee on a pillowcase. If you look carefully you can see them.

So the moral of my visual story is to watch for the tiny rabbits!

And please put a coaster under your mug in case a tiny rabbit spills a bit when siphoning out of your cup.

If I see you here next Monday there may be a book gift to you from me…

Happy Jolabokaflod in advance!

Gouache and grin cycles

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Since I’ve been asked by several people: here’s info about the art media gouache, why it makes me grin and my working cycles with it.

Gouache is a water based paint. It’s more opaque than watercolor. Using gouache feels like spreading soft butter on toast. Applied gouache dries quickly but is easily made moist and workable again. It dries to a matte non sticky appearance which makes it suitable for use in bound sketchbooks, in folded artist books as well as for fine art to be framed. Gouache also reproduces well via various printing mechanisms on fabrics, in printed books and on many other surfaces.

In the studio, because I don’t have to worry about my gouache paints becoming unusable on my palette before I can use them (as is sometimes an issue with acrylics), gouache is suited to my busy life. I call this my gouache and grin cycle.

I prefer to work on multiple art projects at a time in “short bursts” on each project. Rather than count on a long span of uninterrupted time I dash in and work a bit on an art project, then go make lunch or do whatever stuff-of-life or other work matter that needs to be done. Then I cycle back to an art project…

To borrow a sports analogy I just try to advance the ball, my various art projects, a little bit each day rather than doing a project all at once. I try to amuse myself with whimsical art making, aka spreading color, for at least a few minutes every day no matter what else is happening in life. The qualities and attributes of gouache help me to do this, to keep my creative games in play – come heck or high water.

Here’s a series of photos showing my gouache working methods in my sketchbook. (This is also my work method for fine art and other projects.) In the first photo you see my 3 x 5 inch watercolor sketchbook held open with clips. Also pictured from the top left and rotating clockwise: paper towel, peppermint candy model, graphite pencil, 3 watercolor pencils, 2 waterproof ink pens, a water brush and my lidded paint palette with its wells of various dry gouache colors.

In the photo below I begin 3 demo peppermints: the top left mint is sketched in graphite pencil and waterproof ink pens. The bottom left mint is drawn in watercolor pencil only. The mint on the bottom right page was doodled in all of the above; graphite pencil, ink and watercolor pencil. [The quote was just on the sketchbook page I chose to use for this demo.]

So you can see what they look like here in the photo below are two tubes of gouache paints. I like the Holbein Artist Designers Gouache brand best but the Winsor and Newton brand is good too. (There’s a monster called “acryla gouache” also available on the market which I avoid like a character would avoid a flesh eating zombie in a horror film.)

I begin painting by laying down the local color – the general color an item is supposed to be. At this point I don’t worry about shadows or highlights or details. I just get the color shapes down – in this case for the peppermint candies.

I did not squeeze out new paint from my tubes when I began. I got my water brush wet and put a few drops of water on the dried red gouache already on my palette so I can use the newly moistened color. I add a small amount of moisture to a portion of the dried chunk of red gouache until that portion feels like soft butter, then I paint the candy stripes.

Here’s a closer look.

Now I get the general color and shape down for the wrapper in the same method. I put a drop or two of water on my blue gouache color, get my brush damp, dab at the blue paint a second or two to get a portion of it moistened and softened – then I paint.

Now I create the cast shadows using a watery mixture of the red and blue gouache colors. To make the watery mixture on the lid of my palette I dipped my brush on the now moist blue color, dab on an area of the lid, then dab the brush clean on the paper towel, then dipping into the now moist red and adding it to the tiny blue puddle, mixing till it’s a purple color I want for the shadow. Then I add a tiny bit of plain water to the newly mixed purple till it’s a small fingernail size puddle of watery purple – this enables me to do the cast shadows in a faint shadowy way.

Now I do squeeze out a tiny amount of the white gouache from the tube and use it, fresh from the tube, to make the highlights on the candy and wrappers. Note in the photo below how the white gouache can completely obscure the darkest ink lines. This is part of what I love about gouache – any mistake can be covered with the opaque paints. If an edge in a painting needs to be softened or a color edge blended all I need is a wet brush.

Then in a few minutes, perhaps the length of time it takes for a decent sip or two of coffee, when the paint is dry I go back over the paint with ink lines or watercolor pencil lines to snap the details into sharper focus.

Now that I’ve finished painting I leave my sketchbook and my palette open and let them dry completely. I even leave the shadow color mixture on my palette lid to dry. All I will need to do to reuse the mixed color in the future is to get my brush wet and dip in.

Peppermints are one of my guaranteed-to-make-me-grin art subjects that don’t require a lot of time or planning. I’ve learned over years of painting peppermints that different candy makers have their own peppermint candy look. And I don’t mean the wrapper.

Here’s a fabric pattern I did of peppermints for my Spoonflower shop. I used the gouache techniques I describe above to create this pattern. But do you notice how these mints are different from the ones I did in the demo above? Different candy maker… yummy too!

More about my “Peppermint Candies” fabric pattern is here: https://www.spoonflower.com/en/fabric/8224417-peppermint-candies-by-sueclancy

To illustrate what I mean about working in short bursts despite life situations. A hot water pipe burst on our hot water heater recently. (Talk about heck and high water! 🤦‍♀️) After we got the immediate crisis dealt with I did little quick bouts of drawing as a self calming technique. Also while waiting for plumbers etc restoration crews I doodled and painted in my sketchbook. Gouache makes it easy for me do short bursts of spreading color which makes me smile. And having had a brief grin makes dealing with life much better.

Anyway, there’s a new artist book I’ve done for children called “B Mouse Reads A Book”. In it you can see my original ink and gouache artwork, and how the art media is on folded paper in this video on my YouTube channel. Because this book was meant to be handled in a gallery I used a spray fix varnish to make sure the gouache wouldn’t smear or run.

But since the pandemic hit there’s no going to art galleries to handle or view artist books in person. So I was lucky enough to have “B Mouse Reads A Book” published as an ebook here on Storyberries.com! They also included the book B Mouse is reading too…it’s another artist book I created as part of the B Mouse Reads A Book story…there’s a link at the bottom of the B Mouse book that you can click to see the companion book.

“B Mouse Reads A Book” by Clancy – https://www.storyberries.com/free-books-for-kids-b-mouse-reads-a-book-by-sue-clancy-bedtime-stories/

I’m sure you can recognize in the image above the ways I did my combinations of ink and gouache. The video shows how flexible gouache can be when applied on paper bound or folded as pages. The ebook shows how well the nuances of the colors show even as a digital image.

If you look at my portfolio pages you can see my ink and gouache work as both fine art framed in an art gallery setting as well as reproduced in printed books.

Most of my jigsaw puzzle designs, greeting cards and odd mugs on my Zazzle shop were also created with my combinations of ink, watercolor pencil and gouache. It’s a very versatile media.

That reminds me to tell of another practical matter: if you apply gouache too thickly it can pop or flake off. Especially in a folded or bound paper book. And when scanning or photographing gouache artwork for reproduction a too-thick gouache application can cast shadows unrelated to the artwork subject. So I apply gouache as if I were basting bread with semi melted or melted butter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and found it helpful for when you try gouache yourself.

See you here next Monday. And in case you’d like to know even more about gouache – here below are a few links to more information about painting with gouache:

COMBINE WATERCOLOR AND GOUACHE TIPS https://www.erikalancaster.com/art-blog/3-tips-to-combine-watercolor-and-gouache-like-a-pro

GOUACHE INFO (VERY GOOD)
https://www.skillshare.com/blog/learn/7-artists-using-gouache-in-gorgeous-ways

GOUACHE SKILLS
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.skillshare.com/blog/learn/8-gouache-paint-pro-tips-you-should-know%3Fformat=amp

GOUACHE IN SKETCHBOOKS
https://juliabausenhardt.com/how-to-get-started-with-gouache-paint/

LENA RIVO – GOUACHE
https://www.lenarivo.com/guide-to-gouache and generally see
https://www.lenarivo.com

Hare be books dragons and comforts

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In my last post I wrote about my children’s books. Here are 4 of my books for those over age 18:

Dogs by Sue Clancy

Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit

Another Sketchbook

Favorites So Far

All 4 of these books are from my sketchbook keeping practice. All are about ways to take care of ourselves and others. The 2 book that are most obviously from my sketchbooks, and are also about finding comfort during difficult times, say “sketchbook” on the cover.

From the Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit I learned that when in a difficult situation (like a pandemic) that’s beyond your control a strategy for dealing with it is to recognize the reality and the feelings – “I don’t like it” – but refrain from getting stuck there. Acknowledge what’s going on but then go on to find something you can enjoy despite the situation. In my sketchbook “Another Sketchbook” I tried to practice this.

For example the above sketchbook page says “eventually things will get better, in the meantime here are some drawings.”

That pretty well sums it up my way of coping.

More of the coping skills I practiced in a sketchbook format – and in the kitchen – were cooking related. Having a book of reliably good favorite dishes has been a solace.

A pot of soup cooking on the stove, good hot beverages and fun books to read really do restore my psyche. I find it helpful to remember this and deliberately revel in it.

So this week I started my Home Hare Care series again. This series celebrates the comforts of home. I had begun this series back in March 2020 during the first official lockdown. Now that my home state of Washington has sensibly begun another lockdown… it’s Home Hare Care season again.

So instead of the slaying dragons mode of response to feelings and difficulties I’m actively choosing a kinder more gentle way of responding.

It’s an “I see you” recognition of the dragon and then using calming techniques to soothe one’s self and peacefully cohabitate with the dragon.

The concept is really an Inuit one – a variation on it anyway. There’s an article here that describes the concept well titled “How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger

So I drew a dragon, gave it a book to read and made a fabric pattern on my Spoonflower shop. Nice dragon, calm dragon, comfy cozy dragon, rest on this fluffy soft pillow dragon…😁

Since hot beverages feature on my list of soothing comforts it seems sensible to create a series of mugs. I’m calling it my Odd Mugs collection on my Zazzle store. I pretended the sides of mugs were sketchbook pages and reproduced some pages from Another Sketchbook.

See you here next Monday? In the meantime please take care of yourself and keep reading, cooking, drawing and doing whatever you do that’s soothing.