Mundane magic – aka joy breaks

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

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

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

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

Red Eye Gravy Train by Clancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Painting, poetry, pasta, pretty cups and books

A Creative Life, art commission, art gallery, artistic inspirations, books, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, fine art, Fine Art Commission, mundane and magical moments, poetry, sketchbook, small things, words and pictures

I’m very busy working on a top secret painting commission for Caplan Art Designs. So instead of talking about that – look! Poetry! Pasta! Pretty cups! Books!

Poetry: Two books of Andrea Gibson‘s poetry came by mail from one of my local bookstores! Gibson is my latest favorite poet.

Here’s one of Gibson’s poems on page 32 of You Better Be Lightning.

Pasta: My wife got a mixer with the pasta attachments for Christmas! So we’ve been making pasta together! She makes the pasta from scratch while I make the sauce.

Here she’s making large elbow noodles.

I made a butter and parsley sauce for our first pasta attempt so we could primarily taste the homemade noodles. Yum!! Homemade noodles really are worth the effort for the flavor!!

Pretty cups: Recently we’ve been to a few special events with dear friends. There were pretty cups at each occasion. Having recently made a calendar of coffee cups perhaps I was primed to notice them. Even so the cups, and my awareness of them, added a soupecon of extra special to the time with friends.

Here’s a related-to-cup-thoughts page from my sketchbook.

Books: I finished reading this book about books and oh my! What a marvelous invention writing things down and storing them in a book format has been for us humans! And how easy it is to stand on the shoulders of giants simply by reading.

I enjoyed this video about why we should read more. This article about how reading is itself a creative act. And this article about how creativity is actually a practice of resiliency.

So here’s a photo of one of the books I’m reading now in addition to Andrea Gibson’s poetry, a book of short stories and a book of essays.

Hope your week contains good books in it. I’ll see you next Monday or thereabouts.

Adventures in the dining room: holiday art and Jolabokaflod books

A Creative Life, art supplies, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, greeting cards, poetry, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

So as to not spoil holiday surprises I’m sharing the advent calendar adventures on my social media, including this blog, and celebrating Jolabokaflod. A friend gave us an advent calendar of Arteza art supplies – which has been lots of fun to open! Even more fun is discovering a new source for good quality art supplies!

I designed a few projects my wife and I could do together. Here’s the first one.

I made triangle tree shapes.

My wife did the tree ornaments.

And then she did the stars on the tree tops.

I did the shadows and hint of snowy landscape.

Then I did red wrapped gift box shapes.

And my wife did the gold bows on the gifts.

Another joint project is our gift book to be given away for Jolabokaflod aka holiday book flood. This gift will be given Dec 23rd on my email newsletter so please be sure you’re subscribed! You can give a subscription to someone else too.

Here’s the Jolabokaflod poem I wrote and recorded – in case you missed it.

Yes, were getting very serious about Jolabokaflod now and here’s how it goes at our house!

And here’s some of the books that have come by mail from 3 of our local independent bookstores!!

Happy Jolabokaflod to everyone! Happy Holidays too!!

P.S. please make sure you’re subscribed to my email newsletter so you can get your gift ebook on Dec 23rd!!

Dogs on the block and places

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, books, Dogs in Art, fine art, gift books, illustrated poem, pet portraits, poetry, public art, sketchbook, The Professional Dog

This week the holiday begins at Caplan Art Designs with seven artists who have created 3D box sculptures. I’m one of the seven! My box sculpture is titled “Dogs On The Block”. Here’s a series of photos of my box. You know I like dogs…

More details about the exhibit of holiday boxes by seven artists.

Speaking further of dogs in art…there are several dog related artist books by me available at the Aurora Gallery. Here’s one of them…

And a dog appeared in my sketchbook this week

I’m also busy doing a few dog portrait commissions for holiday gifts so I’ll say no more about that.

Poetry about dogs is helpful reading material in the mornings before beginning a days dog portrait work.

On a non canine topic: I’m leaving Twitter. Besides here on this blog you can fetch me on Substack, Instagram, Facebook and now on Mastodon.

I hope your week is a pleasant one! See you next Monday.

Patchwork Poems and a something

A Creative Life, Art Word Combinations, artist book, author illustrator, children's book, handmade books, illustrated poem, illustration, Patchwork Poems, poetry, printed books, Storyberries, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

It’s been a tough week. One friend died. Another is on hospice. I’ve also completed two commissions for holiday gifts and delivered them. So my bandwidth for writing this blog barely registers on the scales. Please forgive me. I’m still playing in my sketchbooks I just find it is easier (and soothing) to actually *be* creative than it is to talk *about* being creative.

The main thing I want to share here with you is that my book Patchwork Poems is now available on Storyberries as an ebook, an animated book and an audiobook – and it’s available as a printed book too! Links are below…

https://www.storyberries.com/bedtime-stories-clancys-patchwork-poems-seasonal-autumn-childrens-poems/

Somehow Storyberries was able to make my book pages be side by side as they are in my original artwork!!

Here’s a look at the videos related to Patchwork Poems which show my original artwork:

On YouTube  https://youtu.be/_hsI__5cJPA

The Instagram Reel https://www.instagram.com/reel/CkzcVR3JTrD/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

A very happy highlight this week was when I was asked to sign books for two twin 4yr old fans of my work!

They had come over to my studio to see this book several times while I was making it! (Their grandparents live nextdoor) The kids are both quite helpful editors! The first time they saw my original artwork in progress I had done perhaps half of the book. I read some of the poems out loud to them. They seemed pleased! However there were blank pages. They pointed at the blank spots. “You’ll do a something here right? And here, and here, and here? A something?” I said that I would. They came back over the very next day. “Did you finish our book yet?”. I explained that these things take time to do, sometimes months, but that I was working as fast as I could. A month or so later they came over for a visit. “Did you finish our book yet?” This time I said that I almost had and would they like to see it? They looked at it with me and took turns very gently holding my original book (it’s the size of a credit card) and opening it carefully. The covers were still blank at that time. “You’ll do a something here right?” I said yes, and that it would become an ebook and a printed book too so even after I finished the original book covers there was still work to do before it was ready. “But there will be a something everywhere right?” They asked. I said yes.

Here below is a look at the printed book Patchwork Poems. It’s much larger, 8 x 11 inches, than my original artist book which is 2 x 3 inches. As per both of my 4yr old editor’s suggestion I made absolutely sure there is “a something” on every page! The magazine style format lets me do that so that’s one of the reasons this book is so much bigger than the original artwork.

Here’s a link for the printed book: https://www.blurb.com/b/11318282-patchwork-poems

Thank you in advance for sharing any of the above Patchwork Poems related links. Thank you most of all for staying as healthy and as happy as possible. I’m glad and grateful to you for reading my work and for your comments!

See you next Monday – with a something…

Finishing art projects, the Bradbury reading program and creativity

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, creative thinking, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, life of the mind, Patchwork Poems, poetry, published art, reading, shelfies, sketchbook, Storyberries, Sustainable creativity, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

This week was about completing projects that have been in progress for the last few months. Now my focus turns towards feeding my creativity via my Bradbury Reading Program – more on that in a sec.

First, here’s a review, by BonnieReads of the cookbook I illustrated for Chef Kim Mahan titled “Kim Cooks  Sue Draws”. The review is here https://bonniereadsandwrites.com/2022/11/05/indie-weekend-kim-cooks-sue-draws-limitededition-cookbook-art-indieart/comment-page-1/#comment-4744

https://bonniereadsandwrites.com/2022/11/05/indie-weekend-kim-cooks-sue-draws-limitededition-cookbook-art-indieart/comment-page-1/#comment-4744

I so appreciate Bonnie for helping get the word out about the cookbook. And a deep heartfelt thank you to all the other people who have shared about it too!

https://www.blurb.com/b/11301105-kim-cooks-sue-draws

Here’s a video flip-through look at the cookbook  Kim Cooks Sue Draws https://youtube.com/shorts/qc-enaNkPqY?feature=share

This week I delivered the finished 3D box I’ve titled “Dogs On The Block” to the Caplan Art Designs Gallery for the upcoming  holiday exhibit.

It has come to my attention that I’ve not explicitly shown that in the mornings I use two small books, both referred to as “sketchbooks”, one for writing and thinking in words: my efforts at poetry, stories, and plans about my artist books and art exhibits. The other book is art, drawing and painting focused. From either sketchbook I work on more finished versions of the art, poems and stories. Here’s a few photos of what I mean and there are more details on my email newsletter.

The writing sketchbook has lighter weight pages which are nice to write on with fountain pens and suit light pen drawings. When I want to really explore an image idea I redraw it in my art sketchbook which has thicker paper that can deal with heavy pen drawings or whatever other art materials I want to use. Here’s an example of that. The writing book is on the left, the art book on the right.

Anyway, the little poem book for children that I’ve been working on for Storyberries is finished now, titled Patchwork Poems and will be released as an ebook on Storyberries.com this week on Nov 12!! Because you follow this blog here’s advance access and a full preview of the entire book along with a look at the cover!

https://www.blurb.com/b/11318282-patchwork-poems

There are promotional things still to do about Patchwork Poems but the active creation part is done.

Whenever I’ve finished most of my current art projects to refuel my creativity I turn my attention to what I call my “Bradbury Reading Program For a More Creative Life”. I’ve practiced this program fairly constantly for more than a decade by now and firmly believe it has helped me be as creative and prolific as I am. Here’s the “Bradbury Reading Program” in a nutshell: for the next 1000 days read one poem, one short story and one essay on any topic. Even if I don’t actually manage 1000 consecutive days I aim for as many in a row as possible. If life happens and I miss a day I forgive myself and get back to it asap. Here is a video of Ray Bradbury himself talking about this reading program.
https://www.instagram.com/reel/CkdkDiuvNrR/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

In the mornings I play in my writing or art sketchbooks in response to whatever is on my mind in the mornings while I’m still in that groggy half asleep state. I am *not* a morning person and this is my superpower: dawdling, doodling and dream-noodling over coffee and breakfast.

The poetry and short stories I read each day are seriously short. Towards evening I randomly pull a book from my shelves, read the poem or story within a few minutes, replace the book on the shelf and go on with making dinner. To show you what I mean… here’s a bookshelf with poetry books on it…

…the book I chose is titled Comic Poems – Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets…

… I open it randomly and read the 4 line poem by Ogden Nash. I replace the book on the shelf and the poem section of today’s Bradbury Reading Program is done.

Now from part of my short story bookshelves…

… I select Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah and open it at random…

… to a half page sized story titled The Oath. I read the story and replace the book on my shelf. Now the short story part of the Bradbury Reading Program is done. And possibly dinner is ready too – or will be shortly.

I shared this photo below in my last post but I’m still happily reading these books each day after dinner. The top most book, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, is a book of short essays that fits with my “Bradbury Reading Program”. The essays generally are two pages long, sometimes a bit shorter or longer. It doesn’t take long to read an essay after dinner prior to clearing the table and doing dishes. I’ve been reading these essays aloud to my wife just so I can keep my voice in practice while I’m basically without hearing aids.

The titles by Salman Rushdie were chosen because I enjoy reading biographies of artists alongside one or more of their creative works. In this way I learn so much about living the creative life. These Rushdie books are what I’m reading each night for about an hour before bedtime. Usually with a mug of hot chocolate.

Details about the books in the above photos are available on my public bookshelves on @bookshop_org – and book sales from this link benefit indiebookstores
https://bookshop.org/shop/clancy

The only book pictured in this post but not listed on my public bookshelves is Comic Poems by the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets. Sadly it seems well and truly out of print however they offer many other small books with short poems https://knopfdoubleday.com/imprint/everymans-library/

I hope your week is pleasant and full of creativity! See you next Monday.

A hearing book and the cookbook is out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perceptions, a poem, art projects and hearing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you next Monday!

Odditerrarium opens this week and other projects

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, author illustrator, books, fine art, handmade books, illustrated poem, illustrated recipe, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, Odditerrarium, pet portraits, poetry, printed books, sketchbook, whimsical art, words and pictures

My Odditerrarium fine art exhibit opens this Thursday Oct 6 from 6 to 8 pm at Caplan Art Designs! It’s been fun to think so much about what dogs and cats might think about! I hope others are amused too.

I’ve enjoyed titling paintings in ways that refer to aspects of mental life. Sometimes, like this painting below, I’ve been rather straightforward. This painting is titled “Intellect”.

Here’s a look at the exhibit in the process of going up on the wall at Caplan Art Designs. The gallery kindly sent me these photos. You can see more about my entire series here on my portfolio and I’m still very proud of the nonsense poem book related to my exhibit! Yes, copies of my book will be available at the Gallery and also available online here – with a full preview of the entire book too.

On another gallery wall there are 3 of my other paintings from other series.

Here’s a kid looking at one of my paintings before it got moved to a different place in the Gallery.

On my email newsletter recently I shared a few of the sketchbook pages where I’d thought, with a pen in hand, about thinking.

Over on NIL-TECH they wrote a really nice thing about my currently in progress drawing marathon…please click here to see it for yourself. It’s so nice! <blushing>

https://shop.nil-tech.com/blogs/news/drawing-marathon-with-sue-clancy

Progress has also been happening steadily on my 3d 8 inch cube that I mentioned in my last post.

Progress too this week on the illustrations I’m doing for a cookbook by Chef Kim Mahan. I propped a spoon on a small bowl so I could draw it properly.

For my fans at Storyberries.com this week I filmed a peek at my illustrated poetry book in progress – just in case any kids wonder how a book like this gets made. Here’s a link…https://www.instagram.com/reel/CjDxgGoJ6jN/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

If you saw the above Reel then you’ll recognize the progress I’ve made in the photos below.

If you’re wondering how I’m managing so many projects at one time: I have 3 work stations in my studio. Each project has it’s own area with an art supply taboret between them with my color palettes and brushes sorted for each project. This way the projects and the supplies I’m using for each one are always ready. I’ll take turns working in short bursts almost daily on each project until they’re finished.

My sketchbooks and the art supplies I use for them are much more portable and roam with me from the coffee pot to the breakfast table or outside to our patio.

And here’s hoping the rest of this week goes smoothly for us all. See you next Monday.

Cogitation, re-wilding ourselves and banned books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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