Of civility, books, odd art and rice

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I got my 2nd dose of the covid vaccine this week and I’m very glad! It did slow me down some so I did more than my usual reading, sketching and thinking.

I avidly follow and read the letters written by historian Dr. Heather Cox Richardson. Often I use her letters on current events and past history as a prompt for my creative sketchbook work.

This week I read this letter by Dr Richardson https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/april-7-2021 and did this sketch.

The next day I read this letter by Dr. Richardson https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/april-8-2021 and did this sketch.

Behind these sketchbook thoughts is my ongoing thinking about Jane Austen’s work. In her novels – Pride and Prejudice most certainly – Austen writes of civility and the social comedy of manners. I see Austen’s work as exploring how stories affect civility and how the presence of civility, or lack thereof, in turn affects not just the individual but also the people around them and the larger society.

Here’s some of the books I’ve been looking at (besides the ebook murder mysteries on my phone): Living With Books by Helen E. Haines, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (my new copy!), The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, Art Matters by Peter de Bolla, In the Presence of Fear by Wendell Berry.

So in multiple ways I’ve been pondering the mundane roll-sleeves-up get-hat-gloves-boots-on kind of work it takes to have a humane civilization. Pleasantness takes effort, talent and perseverance. It can take effort to remember to notice and accept when something is pleasant and then to share it.

As Kurt Vonnegut said “I urge you to please notice when you’re happy and exclaim or murmur or think at some point “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.””

The odd surprises which delight us in nature, in cooking, in art, in literature and in music help us to cope, to see things anew, to remember why we’re working so hard – and that’s what the Arts are for, I think, to help us remember our humanity, our capability to be humane.

Anyway, I eventually finished this painting and titled it “Of Civility”. As per my last post I used some collage text from my old falling apart copy of Pride and Prejudice. This is another piece for art exhibits later this year.

“Of Civility” – by Clancy- 10 x 8 inches- ink, gouache and collage on board

Yes, it may take effort sometimes to be civil and show civility … but forward looking pleasantness usually works out better. As Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Also while thinking on these topics I made a coffee mug design for my Zazzle shop. My hand lettering on the mug says “I love you…you’re probably thinking ‘but you don’t even know me’ … but if people can hate people they don’t even know then I can love…so, I love you.” (Yes, I consider this mug tangentially part of the “household surrealism” work I spoke of in my last post” – my whimsical enjoyment of mundane things which includes making items that could be given as gifts)

I Love You Mug by Clancy click here for more info and ordering this mug – or look for other fun stuff here https://www.zazzle.com/store/sueclancy/collections

Speaking of mundane pleasures, thanks to “An Invitation To Indian Cooking” by Madhur Jaffrey, I have finally learned to consistently make good Basmati rice on the stovetop! (My rice cooker bit the dust so making rice stovetop became a project)

Some quotes I like about rice:

And here’s another sketchbook page … I keep thinking about this one…

I hope you have a pleasant week full of gentle stories, kindness, civility, some odd delightful surprises and a very good bowl of rice. See you next Monday?

Bunnies books and blooms

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As I mentioned in my last post I’ve been sorting and winnowing my illustrations and poetry for a new children’s book.

By writing the poem lines on index cards and having the illustrations on paper I can physically spread them out and sort them. This is very much the editing and rewriting process that the books on writing talk about. I’m doing draft after draft after draft just like they recommend – my drafting is just in tangible form.

For example I put numbers on yellow post it notes which affix on the archival sleeves holding the artwork. That post it note number corresponds to the poem line written on an index card. My legal pad contains a handwritten record of sequences I’ve tried aka manuscript drafts.

The artwork and the index cards are laid out on a queen size bed in the number sequence I’d most recently tried. I read the poem out loud. Then I walk away after shutting the bedroom door so my cat won’t pounce on the artwork. Later, after lunch for example, I’ll go reread and view the artwork, perhaps make a change in the order of the art/poem by moving the art, the index card and the yellow post it notes. Then I’ll read the new order aloud. I’ll note the new numeric number order (draft!) on my legal pad. Then I’ll go do something else. Perhaps just before dinner I’ll repeat the above process before putting everything away for the evening. This short-burst working method allows space for my unconscious mind to work on my project.

As a result some of the illustrations didn’t stay in the queue. Some poem lines went into the bin. Some art and poem lines stayed but took their time to find their place. Eventually after more than a week of these daily sort/resort episodes gradually more of my sequences resonate with me.

As I sort the pictures and words I’m keeping my eye and ear open for what resonates. By resonate I mean that I keep returning the art and poem lines to a particular place or order that makes me smile, makes my heart sing. This resonance is found slowly, page spread by page spread. I just keep on sorting until all of the pages and the entire book sequence feels that heart-sing way, a feeling I call “taking root”.

After that “taking root” has happened then I read the poem aloud and show the artwork to my spouse. Further adjustments are made according to her suggestions. Then I live with any new sequence another day or so to double check how rooted it feels.

I think of this entire creative process as a lot like growing a garden from seed; you plant seeds, you water, you wait, you position the pot on a window sill to catch the sun, you water, wait…at times it feels like nothing is happening…then eventually you have a seedling big enough to safely transfer to another container.

I’m about to the point with this new book of transferring it to another container – meaning that I’m ready to photograph the artwork and begin the book layout design, the computer hocus pocus of it.

The probable title for my new book is “This Rabbit”. But we’ll see if that holds as I shift the book, idea-seed soil and all, to it’s new digital pot.

Speaking of seeds and gardens: here’s a new fabric pattern design with bunnies and blooms. I’m now waiting to see a proof fabric swatch before I approve it to be in my Spoonflower shop.

Last week there was winter weather in the Pacific Northwest and friends and family lost power which caused concerns. But they were brief concerns, quickly resolved, and everyone is fine. Whew.

Then the Texas snow, ice and severe cold storm happened and was not quickly resolved (still isn’t as of this writing). We used to live in Oklahoma and we still have friends in Oklahoma and friends and family living in Texas…so we worried. And made phone calls etc.

And as we worried about friends everywhere I made a greeting card design that couldn’t really be sent, due to the storms, to the people we worried about. But I made the card anyway – the act of making it helped.

https://www.zazzle.com/my_heart_is_with_you_note_card-256344942961836795

Worries distracted me some from my work on “This Rabbit” but not too much. My short-burst method of working accommodates such stuff-of-life.

Besides making the greeting card I puttered in my studio cleaning things. I came across some nice rice paper I’d forgotten I had so I stopped cleaning and made a small accordion book with the paper. It measures 6 inches tall by 2 inches wide when folded shut.

Still photos don’t do it justice so I made a video which you can see here here https://youtu.be/12uYkPo0d8M

One of the many people we worried about is named Beverly. Last year during the pandemic on my birthday Beverly called to wish me a happy day and as a present she talked me through her grilled cheese sandwich method. I’d taken notes on a scrap of paper during our call last year and saved the paper folded and slipped into the pocket of my kitchen sketchbook. This week, in solidarity with Beverly, I made the yummy sandwiches and transferred the notes into my sketchbook.

And here’s the sandwich. My half of the sandwich anyway…the sourdough bread slices we have are large so spouse and I split one sandwich.

At various points during any day I find that coffee and books are comforting. So are homemade oatmeal cookies. Here are cookies resting on cloth napkins made from my fabric pattern with a coffee and books motif. It’s the small comforts that add up. Especially when worried about friends…

As of this writing it seems that most of our Oklahoma and Texas friends and family are more or less fine physically. Whew. Now we wait to hear how the horrific price gouging in Texas will affect them…

Once again I am struck by the difference in response to disasters between regions of the United States. In the Pacific Northwest the utilities are regulated and public. It is generally presumed that people are what matters. In the midwest and south there’s less regulation and more privitization. It is generally presumed that private companies’ profits are very, very important.

I’ve been thinking all week of how the kind of government one has can affect one’s daily life for good or ill. So we worry about friends and family in unregulated privatized Texas. (There’s a well written article here in The New York Times about all this.)

Anyway, hopefully we’ll all have a quieter week. I’ll keep working on my projects much like a seed works at growing no matter what else happens – being creative helps me cope with stuff. It also helps to share my work with you. Thank you so much for looking at my pictures, reading my words and for your kind comments. Catch up with you next Monday.

Linked by leaves lemons and literature

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artistic inspirations, books, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, fabric design, fine art, humor in art, Narrative Art, pattern design, rabbits in art, reading in art, sketchbook, surface design, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking, whimsical art, words and pictures

I’m amazed at how easy it can be to change one’s perception and be inspired. For example I took these yellow lemons and set them next to a grey and cream cookie jar. Suddenly I have a color scheme I hadn’t thought of before.

The randomness of all the creative stimuli in the world can feel a bit chaotic. Making links between stimuli can be a puzzle. The challenge is devising methods to sift through the chaos to find the nuggets of inspiration that are relevant to our lives and our personal forms of creativity.

One way I find focus – or links – is to think about what I enjoy. For example hot beverages and books are reliable enjoyments for me so I often use that as a focal point when exploring color schemes, patterns or shapes.

Here’s an original drawing playing with colors using the books and beverages topic:

Then, later, after I’ve chosen a focal point and created a drawing I’m pleased with, I find ways to take my original drawings and make something that might add to the random pleasures in the world.

My entire creative process is a way of talking, listening and actively participating in the world.

Here’s what I did with the above original ink and gouache drawing of hot beverages and books: I made a fabric pattern of it for my Spoonflower shop.

https://www.spoonflower.com/en/fabric/9454398-hot-beverages-books-by-sueclancy

Yes, much of my artistic inspiration comes from my personal life. Below is one of my favorite hot beverages. I wrote the recipe in my sketchbook. A sketchbook is where I do a lot of my sifting through my thoughts and making links.

And here’s some random books I’ve been reading this week:

The Norton Reader 6th edition is a book of essays, a wide ranging freewheeling collection of essays. I like it for it’s oddness this way – most essay collections are more narrowly focused. This book was given to me back in the late 1980’s by one of my literature professors. I had gone to the professor’s office during the appointed office hours but just after I arrived the professor got a phone call. Those were the days of phones connected by cords, lines and an absence of answering machines. While my professor took the call I sat next to a table with books on it and picked up The Norton Reader. By the time my professor finished the call I had read several of the essays. The professor asked if I liked the book, I replied that I did, and she gave me the book to keep. I have read the book multiple times since those college days and this book currently lives in a place of honor on my dining room shelf with my poetry and short story book collections. It has influenced my creative thinking in ways too numerous to list here.

The other 3 titles in the stack of books in the photo below are all books that I similarly encountered randomly:

Darkness Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane was a recent gift, sent by mail, from a friend. I love a good mystery novel and this one is gripping. I’ve almost finished my first reading of it and …wow. Just. Wow. I had never heard of this author till my friend mentioned and sent the book! I’m grateful to my friend…

Given Sugar Given Salt is a book of poems by Jane Hirshfield. I love the way Hirshfield examines little things, small objects like buttons or our habits or ways we sleep. This book (along with Mary Oliver’s work) has been an influence on my own love of little things.

The Blank Canvas by Anna Held Audette is a big “you can do this” support system even though the book is small in size. I dip into it often when I need a little pick-me-up.

All of the books in the above photo were gifted to me. I relish the randomness the book-as-gift adds to my creative life!

I thought a lot this week about those yellow lemons and that grey color together. And about hot beverages. The weather here has been cold, rainy, which makes hot beverages even more pleasant. Here’s what I drew exploring the yellows and greys:

This week I’ll probably do the digital hocus pocus to turn my grey and yellow cups drawing into a pattern repeated on fabric. (This process will be much like what I described last post.)

My other technique for creative focus – for finding links – is to ask myself what would feed my good wolves today?

This page is from this book: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dr-Bobs-Emotional-Repair-Program-First-Aid-Kit1

Then I think of art topics and creative projects that encourage my own thinking towards kindness and the other good-wolf attributes. And provide amusement and comfort.

For example here’s an ink and gouache painting I’ve titled “The Fall Collection”

“The Fall Collection” by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – ink, gouache and collage on board

And here’s another ink and gouache painting I’ve titled “Anyone Bring Cups?”

“Anyone Bring Cups?” by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – ink, gouache and collage on board

In both of these paintings – in addition to yellow, grey, leaves, lemons and cups (sortof) to link my thoughts together – I used a bit of text as collage along with my ink and gouache. The text is from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I had a much used copy of that title that has pages falling out so my spouse gifted me with a newer intact copy. So I’m lovingly recycling the old falling apart book into my fine art and my perception of Austen’s writing is shifting in nice ways as I do this.

I’m sure you noticed in the paintings that in addition to my use of yellows, greys, leaves, lemons I also used my current “everyman” characters in the form of rabbits.

As I describe in my last post I use techniques for writing as my guide towards creative thinking. In these paintings and in my fabric pattern designs I am following both pieces of advice given to writers: “write what you know” plus “write about what you want to know“. I am also imitating mystery genre writers who use the same characters and themes with subtle variations over multiple books.

Randomness and changing ones perceptions are such fun creative tools to play with! I hope you’ll enjoy some pleasant randomness this week too.

See you next Monday!

A box of leaves – Pembral Forgets

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, Books In Art, handmade books, handmade papers, Narrative Art, pattern design, Pembral Forgets, printed books, publications - publishing, published art, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures

The inside of a book is made up of pages which are called “leaves”. The handmade box I’ve been constructing holds all of the “loose leaves” for Pembral Forgets. I love the pun…a story about fall leaves housed in a box covered with a pattern of leaves, containing loose leaf pages….

Yes, I know…🤣 … Anyway…

Pembral Forgets is a story, written by Steve Tubbs and illustrated by me, about fall leaves, good food and an absent-minded boy who forgets something very important.

Below is a photo of me remembering to spray fix all of the loose pages to prevent smudges.

When I talked with the writer, Steve Tubbs, he expressed concern about the pages being properly protected. So in addition to spray fixing them I slipped each page into an archival clear sleeve.

After making doubly certain that the pages in the archive sleeves would still fit in the book shaped box I set about giving the box an “old book” trompe l’oeil effect using layered acrylic paints over handmade papers.

Multiple layers were needed to create the well-thumbed golden edged book pages appearance to the box sides. (In the background of the photo below you can see some of my character sketches for this book. I keep all such sketches until a project is absolutely finished…just in case.)

Once my book-pages effect on the edges of the box was dry enough to handle I applied the cover title. I had hand lettered, with ink, the Pembral Forgets title onto some of the same tissue-thin delicate paper I had used to make the overall leaf pattern cover paper. [See my previous blog post for details] I applied my archival book glue to the back of the handlettered bit of paper and carefully placed it onto the box.

I wanted the lettering to have a matte look and blend into the cover so that the only shiny, bold, parts to the cover are the stenciled pattern of leaves. (The photos in this post are “in progress” pics. My portfolio page has more photos of the finished project)

Because the paper is thin the applied paper with lettering on it lies flush with the cover itself. Since this box/book may be stored on a shelf just like any other book I don’t want any edges sticking up to catch on anything.

In addition to showing the flatness of the cover the photo below also shows the box edges more clearly.

While the cover title lettering was drying I applied similar lettering to the spine of the book. And worked on a colophon page… more on that in a bit.

I use various sizes of paperweights to hold just-glued papers flat while they dry. (In case you’re wondering beanbags make great paperweights.)

While things dried I created another tree scene – with ink and gouache – this one with frost on the ground and a pond. This tree image is unique to this artist book box version of Pembral Forgets and doesn’t appear in the printed book reproductions.

There are many reasons for having unique pages in the box but the main reason is I have a more flexible page count in a one-of-a-kind book with loose leaves than I do when creating book reproductions.

The photo below shows my handmade box without the loose leaf content pages in it so you can see the bottom of the box. There’s a raised area (the leaf pattern to the right) that has a recessed “valley” near the box walls to allow fingers to pick up the last loose leaf page easily. Also attached to that raised area in the well of the box is a black ribbon for the pages to rest on so they can easily be lifted out.

Here’s the bookmark ribbon with the loose leaf content pages in place

Below is a close view of the colophon page. A colophon gives info about a book authorship, publication and any information that’s relevant to the book creation. I glued it onto the inside front cover aka the inside lid of the box. Since I handmade the box I signed the colophon page.

The box lid has a “tray” which fits inside the box when closed. (Yes, that was very tricky to measure and create. Have I mentioned that I like puzzles?)

Anyway, perhaps in the photo below you can see how that brown tray edge on the box lid fits into the inside of the box. Or perhaps clicking on the video link below the photo gives you a better idea.

Here is a video look at this project

https://youtu.be/p5By-g5AR6E

This week wasn’t necessarily calmer politically speaking than I wrote of in my last post but in a personal sense I stayed busier. So that in itself was calming. I was glad to see that Trump was impeached for a second time. I am nervous about the upcoming inauguration of President Joe Biden – I want his administration to be safe…

So I will do creative work, read, cook, go for walks and find solace anywhere I can while I wait and hope.

As it’s getting colder here where I live in the Pacific Northwest- and since I’ve been staying so busy – reheating a pot of soup was simply easier to manage. Here’s a link to the soup recipe I enjoyed. Lentil Lemon Orzo Soup

I finished the Theodora Goss novel that I’ve been reading during my last several posts. I liked the way Goss writes and I found her monsters a pleasant diversion.

A friend kindly sent me some books by mail – so I’m enjoying them now!

I’ve been requested to make some art prints of a few of the pages from Pembral Forgets so this week I’ll do that and will update my Pembral Forgets portfolio page with those details! What fun!

See you here next Monday. Hope your week is as good as it can be.

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.

Art for Pembral Forgets

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, ebook, fine art, illustration, Narrative Art, Pembral Forgets, publications - publishing, published art, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

I’ve illustrated Pembral Forgets written by Steve Tubbs and in my last post I talked about my process of creating the cover and my leaf motif that flows through the book.

Well here, below, are some of the finished illustrations with the text so you can see what I mean.

Later on in the story there are some really large leaves… but as you can tell from the images above I depict leaves from a distance as well as nearer to hand.

I also use leaf shapes as logos on story related objects… for example in the photo below look for the leaf on the sugar and the market sacks. I do this in multiple places within the story in order to emphasize the fall leaves aspect of the story – and to visually bring the leaf motif and good food motifs together.

There are illustrations on every one of the 38 pages of Pembral Forgets… lots of leaves blowing through this book!

Since the author Steve Tubbs was inspired by thoughts of himself as a kid and memories of his own mother – I wanted my illustrations to have a warm soft nostalgic feeling in addition to the colors of Fall. So I used a cream colored handmade watercolor paper for my ink and gouache illustrations.

If the pages above tempt you to see the whole story. You can see it for free on Storyberries.com where they’ve published both ebook and audiobook versions of Pembral Forgets! Here’s the link https://www.storyberries.com/bedtime-stories-pembral-forgets-short-stories-for-kids/

And here, below, is what the printed artist book cover looks like. My leaf pattern reproduced well and I’m very pleased with the color reproductions! You can access the printed books here https://www.blurb.com/b/10507043-pembral-forgets

Since the warm, creamy, yet fall colors are what I wanted for the pages in the artist book reproductions – I’m also making the original artist book box (talked about in my last post) have a similar cream color on the book-shaped box edges where pages are.

I still have lots of work to do on the one-of-a-kind artist book box that will hold all of the original illustrations and text. Also there’s a few more pages for the one-of-a-kind book to do…. more about that in future posts.

And I’m in the process of making a webpage about Pembral Forgets. It includes a short conversation with the author, Stev Tubbs, as well as images of more of the finished art. You can see it here: https://sueclancy.com/portfolio/pembral-forgets/

But in case you think I came up with the cover and these illustrations perfectly right from the first: Here’s a leaf motif pattern I tried before hitting upon the motif and color scheme I finished with.

I decided this leaf pattern was too green and too uniformly regular. Then I proceeded to do the pattern I showed you in my last post and what you see on the Pembral Forgets finished book cover. But as a pattern design goes this more-green autumn leaf pattern was fine – it just didn’t fit the creamy nostalgic vibe I wanted for Pembral Forgets.

But I decided the green autumn leaf pattern would be fun fabric for dinner napkins for a fall table setting. You can access this fabric on my Spoonflower shop here https://www.spoonflower.com/designs/6316427-autumn-leaves-by-sueclancy

Speaking of good food and the fall dinner table: I made this soup this week and it was satisfyingly heart and tummy warming. https://gratefulgrazer.com/home/vegan-potato-soup/

I’m still happily reading “European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman” by Theodora Goss – and taking things a wee bit slower but I’ll see you here next Monday! Stay safe – and here’s hoping for a better new year for everyone.

Pembral Forgets and a holiday

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Mid November 2020 I was asked to illustrate Pembral Forgets by Steve Tubbs. It’s a story about fall leaves, good food and an absentminded boy who forgets something important.

In mid December I took a social media break in order to focus more intensely on my illustrations. (There’s 38 pages of illustrations!) I’m glad I took the break as I think my illustrations for Pembral Forgets are some of my best work so far. The story written by Steve Tubbs was great inspiration!

I finished the illustrations and uploaded the digital files for the artist book reproductions on December 21 and told the author Steve Tubbs that Pembral Forgets by Steve Tubbs was now available! (You can preview the reproductions of the artist book via this link here)

Then I shut off my screens and have since been recovering from my creative efforts. Reading books and cooking are my go-to restoration methods and it’s really helped to spend time deeply reading in a novel! And trying new-to-me recipes! Truth be told I’m still in this hibernate and recovery mode.

Still, because it may amuse, I wanted to share some of my working process on this artist book project.

Since fall leaves are a theme in Pembral Forgets I studied leaves I found in my yard and neighborhood. I both drew them in my sketchbook and photographed them….here’s two of the photos

Then out of thick mylar (a sheet of clear plastic) I drew the leaf shapes with a marker and then hand cut stencils in the shapes of several different kinds of leaves. The masking tape tabs on the edges of the mylar make it easier to lift and move the stencil when in use.

With a sheet of handmade paper taped to a board on my easel I set about using the 5 different stencils I’d made. I mixed acrylic paint colors and used a natural sponge to dab into the color and then onto the stencil. This overall leaf pattern was done over a multiple day period to allow for layers to dry.

My spouse snapped the above photos so they could be shared digitally with the author Steve Tubbs and his wife. The pandemic being what it is – the project discussions between the writer and myself were all virtual.

Here’s what the finished leaf pattern looked like while it was on my easel with still wet paint.

And here’s what the cover for the artist book reproductions looks like:

https://www.blurb.com/b/10507043-pembral-forgets

Variations of this leaf motif carries throughout Pembral Forgets….

When I create books I think of them, as an art object. With the attending artistic concerns about rhythm, balance, beauty and, in my case, pleasantness. For this project I was inspired artistically Steve Tubbs’s story Pembral Forgets and did my own artistic response to his story.

My way of working also means that most of the time my book creations have, in addition to the multiple print and ebook reproductions, a physical one-of-a-kind book-like-art-object.

Sometimes there’s a series of framed fine artworks related to the books – see my Alphapets and Alphapets Too projects for examples or my portfolio page generally.

Anyway, here’s the book-box for Pembral Forgets that I’m still in the process of constructing.

I will show pages and talk about my illustrations for Pembral Forgets in coming blog posts. My hand is still very tired so I will write more later…like next Monday.

If you’re curious: I’ve been reading the novel “European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman” by Theodora Goss.

One of the meals I’ve enjoyed cooking recently is a pasta, cheese and pepper dish I’d read about on the Food In Books blog – https://wp.me/p75xYM-1bY – I don’t know if I’d read the novel talked about in that blog post but it’s fun to see the novel that inspired the blogger’s recipe. I can tell you, for certain, that the pasta, cheese and pepper recipe in the post is a winner!

Now, back to the novel I am currently reading!

Jolabokaflod and hot chocolate

A Creative Life, Art Word Combinations, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, Books In Art, ebook, illustrated shorts, Narrative Art, reading in art, visual story, wordless story, writing and illustrating

Happy Jolabokaflod in advance! In my last post I hinted that I’d have a gift book for you. I have several! And some hot chocolate. Some assembly required… If you’re just joining this party – welcome! – and if you’re not familiar here’s another meme that tells what Jolabokaflod is.

So here’s one of your gift books that I’ve written and illustrated titled “B Mouse Reads A Book” – it’s a book-within-a-book book. I’ve created a wordless story about B Mouse who is reading and enjoying a book titled “A Mouse’s Book Of Scraps

Yes, I simply couldn’t resist a visual pun about books for Jolabokaflod – the holiday book flood!

Click here to be able to, for free, add “B Mouse Reads A Book” to your cart so you can download it and have it on your device. Below is one of the pages …

There’s also the option to download and read “A Mouse’s Book Of Scraps” the very book B Mouse is reading too – you can go here to, for free, add it to your cart and download it too.

Both “B Mouse Reads A Book” and “A Mouse’s Book Of Scraps” are my whimsical look at enjoying books, collections of things and publishing books.

Both of these books can also be seen on Storyberries.com – without downloading anything there – by clicking this link to see “B Mouse Reads A Book“. At the bottom of that story there’s some words “click here to read the story B Mouse is reading” and that takes you to “A Mouse’s Book Of Scraps

There are more free artist books that I wrote and illustrated available to download for free at the bottom of my shop page.

And on Storyberries.com there are 8 free books written and illustrated by me – just search the Storyberries site for my name, Sue Clancy

Now that you have some gifted books to read, here’s my hot chocolate recipe!

Enjoy yourself!! See you next Monday.

P. S. I’ve been off social media busy working on a new artist book… I hope to start sharing it here soon.

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!

Alphapets Too: I, J, K and L

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More work on Alphapets Too my sequel to Alphapets by Clancy at the request of my fans and Storyberries – the publisher/distribution house I’ve been working with! (See my last post for details)

The Alphapets Too pet portrait project this week is brought to you by the letters I, J, K and L. Here’s my abecedarian poem to go with these letters and artwork :

Itsy is happy to sit on a twig

Jojo jumps when trying to jig

Kane keels over when putting on pants

Libby looks sideways while hoping to glance

I did portraits of a green tree frog, a Pacific jumping mouse (also known as a western/woodland jumping mouse), a jerboa and a chameleon.

Tiny green tree frogs look like little living jewels to me. So as I painted Itsy I hung the letter “I” like a pendant.

My inspiration for Jojo was having seen the Pacific jumping mouse on my past woodland hikes in the Pacific Northwest. If I’m quick enough, on hikes, to freeze when I see movement out of the corner of my eye I’ll get to see more of the mouse. The mice can jump about 9 feet so when encountering one during a walk they give the impression of a tiny bird trying to fly up from the ground. If the mouse is jumping forward to travel it almost seems like someone trying to do a hopping dance.

While researching the Pacific jumping mouse I came across the jerboa. The jerboa is similar to the Pacific mouse – but very different too: larger ears, longer skinnier back feet and are a desert rat rather than a woodland one. The skinny back feet of the jerboa had me imagining, for my portrait of Kane, how difficult pulling pants over such feet would be.

Eyes are one of my interests. How humans percieve the world is part optical data driven and part cultural training/interpretation. (And the ways our brains function, stories we tell ourselves, did a whole book about that… but that’s not today’s topic) Humans tend to see only what we expect to see. So in my work as a biological illustrator- and as a fine artist I enjoy reading about animal eyes and scientific studies about eyesight. When creating the portrait of Libby I read this article about the chameleons ability to see in 360 degrees! Wow! A whole different way to “sideways glance” or see out of the corner of ones eyes.

Like my first series “Alphapets” this artwork, too, was created with ink, gouache and color pencil. I do these portraits on board, size 3.5 x 2.5 inches. The original art will be framed…eventually … and be a miniature art exhibit at the Aurora Gallery.

I will also be making an artist book titled Alphapets Too – in a format like “Alphapets by Clancy”. You can see print and ebook versions of “Alphapets” by clicking here.

And when I get it all done “Alphapets Too” will be available on Storyberries.com (Btw: there are two different stories by me currently on Storyberries.com- search the site by my name)

You can follow my progress during the week on my Instagram pages and see the details of my creative process here in my Monday blog posts.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement as I work on this project!