I’ve been having a blast playing at being a North Pole elf, designing gifts for my upcoming pop-up shop at Vintage Books https://www.vintage-books.net/ Dec 7th from noon to 4pm! The Pacific Northwest social scene has been inspiring and guiding my thoughts.
Here in Vancouver all year long people get together regularly for happy hours, for pot-luck dinners and other social occasions. I love it! Then come October through to the new year there are parties, parties and parties!!! There are cookie parties, apple parties, wine parties, beer parties, cocktail parties, salad parties, game-night parties, pot-luck dinner parties…. and, of course, holiday stocking stuffer parties.
So as I’ve designed my products for the pop-up shop I’ve kept in mind the various stocking stuffer parties we’ve attended – as well as the local trend of giving handmade items and/or small-in-cost-and-size unique gifts to friends and family.
Anyway, I have very much enjoyed designing whimsical gifts thinking of my local friends, family and fans. I’m delighted that my local bookstore, Vintage Books, has asked me to do this pop-up shop and I’m also planning a performance-art aspect to the event – i.e. I’m going to do some “live drawing” pet portraits…. but more on that in another post.
Here’s a stocking with some of the stuff I’ve designed in it.
My local bookstore Vintage Books https://www.vintage-books.com/ is the first bookstore to carry my newest book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” – and in advance of the Nov 1st release day too!! When I was at the bookstore talking with the manager she asked me if I did my art on “stocking stuffer items” and if I would consider doing a pop-up shop for the holiday season – in late November or early December.
Well, I’m a firm believer in the philosophy “take tarts when tarts are passed” so I said “Yes!” and have been busy doing product designs since then! Nice to dust off my old graphic design/product design skills (what I got a college degree in!). Here’s a pic of my new book and a few of the stocking stuffer gift items I’ve gotten so far…
As you can see in the photo I’ve put one of my artworks onto a 252 piece jigsaw puzzle – the finished puzzle size is 11 x 14 but the box containing the puzzle is small enough to fit into a large Holiday stocking. Another painting I’ve put onto the backs of playing cards and … oh, there are many more items still in production.
I’ve been thinking non-stop about what fans of my artwork and my fellow book readers might enjoy finding as gifts in their holiday stocking; bookmarks, drink coasters, art prints, playing cards, calendars… Is there anything I’m forgetting??
Please let me know and I’ll keep busy working on items that may help spread a little love and joy to my fellow literary fans.
And I’ll update you with my progress here first… btw I’m using Zazzle to produce most (but not all) of my designs and have also created a “store” there.
My friend and neighbor, who has two grandchildren under the age of 2, was showing me a vintage toy that was purchased for the kids; a red and blue ball with shaped holes in it, with the yellow-block shapes inside the ball. You pull open the ball, the yellow-shape blocks spill out and you can put the blocks back inside the ball by matching the block shape and the hole shape.
At the time I was working on an illustration and was stumped for the “language” that the space alien creature would be speaking. The “language” in my artwork would need to somehow imply the ways the content of a book can “fit” with or resonate with a reader.
My conversation with my neighbor helped – creative problem solved!!
It’s finally gotten to be “soup and stew” weather here in the Pacific Northwest! When I was making a stew the other day I realized I was twirling, aka dancing, in the kitchen; popping quickly between the stove, the counter where I was chopping veg, the pantry and the refrigerator. I was so excited about making a stew that I’d forgotten my cardinal rule of getting all the ingredients out before starting.
The experience inspired this artwork I’ve titled “The Sacred Dance Of The Stew-pot”.
Sacred Dance Of The Stew-pot – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inch – ink and gouache on board
I created the artwork using my fountain pen and gouache on board – after I’d finished eating of course.
The stew turned out okay. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever made. But for the first stew of the season I’ll give it marks for effort.
On a recent trip to the library I saw a book titled “How To Draw And Write In Fountain Pen: A Modern Guide” by Ayano Usamura. (book link) The book reminded me that I’ve not talked about this essential studio tool in a while.
I’ve used a fountain pen almost daily since I was in art school at university. An illustration class required a fountain pen, a Pelikan Classic M200 , as one of it’s “textbooks” for the semester. We were taught the care and use of the pen – the pen care section of the book by Usamura mirrors what I was taught exactly. Part of the class requirement was to draw with the pen daily. The professor would periodically surprise-inspect our pens for proper care/maintenance and would look at our sketchbooks as part of our grade. Woe unto the student who forgot their pen.
Fast forward to now and I’m still drawing with my fountain pen daily. It’s my go-to tool for my on-going art studio philosophy: “Work in short bursts of time. Often.” When I’ve only a minute or two for creativity work I can easily, quickly, do an ink drawing without having to do any more “studio-set-up” than to open my sketchbook and pull the cap off my pen. Here’s todays fountain pen drawing:
Nowadays I prefer the Levenger True Writer. It’s the best fountain pen I’ve had yet. Writes and draws smooth lines with no pressure, less mess and less constant care needed than some other pens. I use the Noodlers brand fountain pen ink – the anti-feather black kind (also called “X-feather”). And of course these days I have a whole new appreciation for the environmental friendliness of a fountain pen; less used-up-pen-plastic-parts going into the land-fill.
Anyway, the book “How to Draw and Write in Fountain Pen” happily reminded me of what I’d been taught way back in the day at university. I brought the book home from the library to read and re-remember all the fountain pen tips and tricks. And, if the book was accurate to my fountain pen experience (it was!), I could mention it to you here on my blog – and photograph the book with my Levenger fountain pen for a post on my Instagram page.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go lovingly re-fill the ink in my fountain pen.
P.S. If you were wondering – I did use a fountain pen to do the graphic-novel style drawings in my recently published book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit“.
Update: After I had written the above post about fountain pens I went to dinner in Portland Oregon. From dinner we all walked to Oblation Papers and Press – where I happily discovered that they have a wide selection of fountain pens!! And staff who know the various pen brands! Here’s a link to their drool-worthy website https://www.oblationpapers.com/
I’ve been busy getting ready for an exhibit at Caplan Art Designs (www.caplanartdesigns.com) that opens Sept 5th in Portland Or. This is one of the new art pieces that’ll go to the exhibit. Just put it in a new frame today. It’s titled “Immortal Good Fortune” (details below)
“Immortal Good Fortune” by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – gouache and ink on board
Here’s the series of random thoughts I was thinking about as I created it:
We make our own luck. When life hands you dragons – cook sausages to share with others. Dragons are often a symbol for self-confidence, good luck, happiness and power. Happiness is not about luck or getting what you want – it’s the state of mind when life gives us what we’re willing to accept.
And of course I was thinking about reading books, art collections and Schnauzer and Havanese dogs…
I realized recently that the “bedtime story” ritual, for both children and adults, is nearly universal across cultures. While there is scientific evidence (see links here and here) that reading printed books before bed can help you sleep and provide other benefits – for me it’s plain indulgence. Naturally bedtime-reading is subject matter for one of my artworks that will be included in an upcoming exhibit in September at Caplan Art Designs:
Yarns Heard Around The World – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – ink, gouache on board
For fun as I created this piece I combined my thoughts about bedtime reading with the concepts of teams and coaches…. counting sheep is a world-wide sport. Right? Lol!
I live now within a 2 hour drive from the Pacific Ocean. I also live near a river that feeds directly into the sea. So it’s been fun to read and think about stories, both fiction and non-fiction, that have to do with water. Books like: “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “2000 Leagues Under The Sea” by Jules Verne, “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, tales about pirates, books about the Lewis And Clark expedition and of course the writings of Mark Twain.
And I often see people reading printed books in town and on beaches along the coast. Their facial expressions make me wish I could see what story they were reading. What if a book being read leaked out from the readers mind and into the world beside them?
These musings led to my gouache painting titled “Sea Stories”:
“Sea Stories” by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – ink and gouache on board
For this new painting I’ve combined several thoughts together: rainy day activities, the contrast between rainy Pacific Northwest and the Southwestern (USA) desert region (Arizona), and the Bonneville Dam’s fish ladder. I’ve found the fish ladder fascinating – here’s a video of it – and have done some fun sketching at the Bonneville Dam trying to capture the patterns I see.
I enjoy the patterns the fish form as they flow by. I also enjoy the patterns of the needles/leaves on cactus and succulents which seem visually similar, in my eyes, to the “flow” of the fish as seen from various angles.
Yes, I spend a lot of time thinking about visual fractals in general and specifically fractals in nature
Plus the absurdity of comparing fish with cactus tickled my funny bone. At any rate those were some of my thoughts as I created this gouache painting I’ve titled “100 Things To Do On A Rainy Day”.
“100 Things To Do On A Rainy Day” by Clancy – 11 x 14 inches – ink and gouache on board
Been thinking of how people can focus too much on things that are unlikely to happen and forget to see what really is possible – such as enjoying the here-and-now moments. I’ve also thought of related quotes and phrases: “Life is not a dress rehearsal” and “Take tarts when tarts are passed” and “If not now, when?”. These thoughts baked in my brain pan a while and out came this painting I’ve titled “Pie In The Sky”
Pie In The Sky – by Clancy – 8 x 10 inches – ink and gouache on board