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!

Stocking whimsy

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Stockings were hung by the whimsy with care in hopes of the giggling soon to be there…

Okay so that’s not how the poem really goes. Still I’m thinking of ways to keep up my sense of humor and share a chuckle with other people. Imaginative play and laughter are crucial to mental health and humor seems more important this year, 2020, than ever.

My what a creative challenge this year has been on all levels. For example, instead of the usual holiday art gallery openings and parties my galleries are doing things differently: open by appointment, digitally showing work, shipping and delivering directly. Some are also doing limited hours “popup” shops with items that can be picked up curbside or quickly and safely in the gallery.

Through all of the changes my creative efforts still focus on hopefully making you grin.

Toward that goal here’s a few of my gouache and ink paintings available via the Caplan Art Designs gallery www.caplanartdesigns.com

Here, below, are a few paintings at the Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery in Tulsa, Oklahoma

And there are more than a few paintings – artwork that is reproduced in my artist books for children – many of my artist books (signed) and other stocking stuffers at the Aurora Gallery – www.auroragalleryonline.com

Besides fine art and artist books for the Aurora Gallery popup event, Dec 12 from 12 to 4 pm, I’ve created some small stocking stuffers: book mark ribbons, playing cards, drink coasters and other items not pictured below.

Besides paintings that include socks, I even made a few largish non holiday theme stockings that can hold smaller gifts.

Perhaps you’re noticing some common themes in my work: books, beverages, music and funky socks. All various comforts that can be enjoyed at home.

And it’s all whimsical. Humor is important to me because a sense of humor is one of our best tools for thinking and living well – despite circumstances.

Anyway, I’ve been enjoying the puns within puns… my fine art about reading books that becomes a bookmark ribbon for a reader. Or my fine art that includes a beverage becoming a drink coaster…

No, I don’t expect that everyone will understand all of my jokes – certainly not the “meta” ones – I’m just hoping you’ll get a surprise and a smile from my work.

Please do whatever you need to do this week to maintain your sense of humor and whimsy. Playfulness helps us cope.

A good laugh heals a lot of hurts – Madeline L’Engle

Childrens books and other comforts

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Well I didn’t expect that. My books sold out at the Aurora Gallery within 11 days. By request I’ve ordered more books to sign and deliver to the gallery asap.

I began doing this series of kids books as a gift for my friends and their kids and grandkids. When this pandemic began, for safety reasons, I started making my artist books on Blurb.com because they’ll print my books on demand and then mail those books from where they’re printed to any place in the world, including mailing books to my local friends.

Here’s a photo of all 5 of my children’s books. (Accessible on my shop page)

The worldwide aspect of Blurb has turned out to be a good thing also because all 5 of my children’s books are now on Storyberries.com as ebooks and audiobooks worldwide. Storyberries links to where a reader can get the printed books at the bottom of each ebook.

Even so I’ve gotten multiple direct questions about where to get printed versions of my children’s books so I’ve put them on my shop page as well as my portfolio pages.

Also on my portfolio pages are links to blog posts that show my working and thinking processes as I created the books.

What I hadn’t expected was the requests for signed books. I’ve been working on that: I’ve mailed signed labels for the book owner to affix in the book. And I’ve taken, in a pandemic safe way, a few signed books to the Aurora Gallery where they went quickly to new homes. I’ll have a few more signed books at the Aurora Gallery soon and the gallery is able to mail them on to a reader/collector.

Anyway, to be safest of all, I’m focused on working with places that can do the direct shipping of books and other items. I’m also enjoying making downloadable ebooks. (Look at the bottom of my shop page for ebooks I have there)

You see, I keep thinking “what if this pandemic is actually opportunity to slow down and really connect with people?”.

Books are ways to connect, in my opinion, and for that reason I make books. I may dedicate each book and have certain people in mind as I create my books but when I share on social media about my books (and other items) I share for anyone who needs a bit of comfort, a smile and a visual hug.

Here’s a look at the display at the Aurora Gallery before they sold out of my books.

At any rate I’m enjoying making my books available via Blurb and Storyberries and the Aurora Gallery and I’ve enjoyed hearing that my books have given people comfort and enjoyment during this time.

Most days I make an effort to catalog what I’m enjoying and finding comfort in these pandemic days. This is expanding my awareness of things, besides books, that help us connect with each other. But in my list making of comforting things I’ve found books and coffee so comforting so often that, for fun, I did a fabric pattern on the topic.

Coffee and Books fabric pattern – https://www.spoonflower.com/en/fabric/9454365-coffee-books-by-sueclancy

A friend liked my coffee and books fabric pattern and requested a coffee mug with it. So I did that. It’s fun to think of mugs as gallery walls or as book pages or even as pieces of fabric. And I get comfort from thinking creatively about the ordinary stuff of life and the comforts found there. I’m very grateful that both Spoonflower and Zazzle can ship my designs directly to someone.

Coffee and Books mug – https://www.zazzle.com/coffee_and_books_mug-168903127961605425

I find it helpful to create things with specific people in mind. Sometimes the people know about my creation because they requested something or because I wrote a dedication in one of my books. Most often the person I had in mind while I was creating never knows about it.

As Kurt Vonnegut says “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

A side effect of thinking of my artistic creations as gifts for someone I have in mind is that I’ve discovered that my books, fabrics, mugs, puzzles and other items have been purchased as gifts by one person for another person.

And I love this thought that what I make as a gift, in my mind, for someone I know becomes a real-life gift from one person to another person.

It feels like I’m the author of gifts to be given, as if my artistic mediums, my paints so to speak, are love and kindness shared between people. With that in mind I’ve begun making more note cards… like this…

Hammy’s Comfy Pants card – https://www.zazzle.com/hammys_comfy_pants_card-256444659563201670

The text on the inside of the card says “wishing you calmness and peace or at least comfortable sweatpants”

Yes, comfortable pants made my list of enjoyed comforts this week. So did thick socks and warm sweaters but this is enough typing for right now.

See you next Monday? Till then please make yourself comfortable and share a comfort with someone else.

Illustrated shorts and other comforts

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, creative thinking, fine art, functional art, illustrated shorts, illustration, life of the mind, mental health, Numpurrs, printed books, product design, publications - publishing, published art, small things, story, visual story, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

It’s election time in the U.S. This year is particularly full of hopes and fears. So I’m focusing on comforts as a topic for my art projects. I’m thinking of the importance of the ability to provide self care, self comfort and to comfort others. To feel ones feelings and to continue on without getting stuck in the feelings.

Here’s a book I illustrated some time ago that I’ve continually found helpful in life – and in my creative life.

Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit – illustrated and collected by Sue Clancy
https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=Dr-Bobs-Emotional-Repair-Program-First-Aid-Kit1

In the Dr Bob book there’s discussion of a self-care technique that I find most relevant to my creative life: keeping a list of things that I enjoy thinking about and, when worrying, to deliberately switch my thoughts to one of the things I enjoy thinking about. I’ve found that it’s helpful if at least one of the enjoyed thought topics on my list has gear. Gear; stuff I can buy, look at, use or touch in the real world.

Anyway here’s some items from my personal list of things I enjoy thinking about (in no particular order): fine art, art techniques, art supplies, reading, books, writing techniques, pens, papers, cooking, cooking techniques, food of all kinds, plants, wild animals, house pets, coffee, tea, mugs, cups, coffee urns, tea pots, jigsaw puzzles, playing cards, fabrics, fabric designs, lap blankets….

There are many more items on my list but you get the idea and I got tired of typing.

This strange year, 2020, with its pandemic and, in the U.S., weird political scene, I’ve thought a lot about those topics. As a result I’ve been branching out creatively.

Creating original fine art and one-of-a-kind handmade books for galleries, libraries, public organizations and clients homes and offices has long been my main focus. Well, the pandemic has caused me to adapt my thinking and find ways to put my artwork and books out in the world in ways that people could get them via mail order (or downloads) while at home rather than having to leave home and go to a particular place to see my work.

I still happily work with all of my art galleries and they have adapted to the pandemic as well, delivering and shipping art to clients, doing virtual tours etc. My new work simply augments what work I’ve already been doing with them. For instance people have sought, from my galleries, the original artwork for my books.

Primarily, creating print on demand books and objects has been a way for me to practice my own self care.

Anyway, the result has been the creation of real-life books, fabrics and objects that have been comforting to me as I’ve made them. I’ve been told by other people that they have been comforted by my work too. I have even heard that my work has been given as gifts and the comforts have been spread! I can’t describe adequately how happy that’s made me!

So I’ve been increasingly focused on creating original fine art which leads to creating my artist books on Blurb and also to creating theme related objects on my Zazzle and Spoonflower shops. Then on my portfolio page on my website I’m grouping them together.

For example on my Numpurrs portfolio page you can see images of the original fine art (and the art gallery handling it), my artist book for children titled Numpurrs. Besides info about the printed book there’s a related poster, calendar, jigsaw puzzle and mug. Here below is the Numpurrs mug – wouldn’t it be fun to have Alphabet soup out of this mug?

Numpurrs mug by Sue Clancy
https://www.zazzle.com/numpurrs_mug-168791615464778032

I’ve also created a new page on my website called “illustrated shorts“. The page has short examples of my thinking of fabric, note cards and coffee mugs as gallery wall spaces, so to speak.

For example here are a few of my illustrated short thoughts about love:

This is a page in my sketchbook
This was a redo of my sketchbook page on “good paper”
This is an “odd mug” I created with my design
https://www.zazzle.com/i_love_you_mug-168999488696149637

It’s fun, and comforting, for me to think about self care and to create art, books and objects that could be accessible for other people to use for their own self care or to be given to others. So I’m likely to continue such thoughts during the coming weeks as we all prepare for “non-normal” holidays.

Check in again next Monday? In the meantime, please take care of yourself.

Numpurrs 16, 17, 18, 19

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This week has been less busy but weird with wildfires and bad air quality where I live in SW Washington. (More re in a sec.) Despite it all I still made progress on my Numpurrs book (see also my last post for more project details)

Here are the poem lines that go with the illustrations I managed to get done this week:

Sixteen puts flowers out on a whim

Seventeen pours saucers of milk labeled skim

Eighteen opens fish oil good for the fur

Nineteen is so happy she starts to purr

To think about art and creating a book for children this week, as wildfires raged, as we worry about the safety of family and friends has, at times, felt a bit frivolous. But it is also an act of hope. An act of resilience. An act of pushing back against the darkness…

One of my sources of comfort in times of difficulty is to walk among my bookshelves at home, selecting a random book, reading a page or so and putting it back on the shelf. I often hope to find encouraging, uplifting passages. As you might know from my artist book Another Sketchbook I’ve been adapting this comfort recently to include ebooks. Here’s something I read this week from Albert Camus

I think creating art is a way of maintaining hope. Sharing art is a small act of kindness. So I keep on. Besides, I find it helpful to spend time each day focusing on something that is pleasing, enjoyable, as doing this helps me exercise and maintain my inner muscles that give me strength to push back.

Things that are enjoyable are what we push for, what we want to maintain, what we want to have more of in life because it’s not enough to merely endure. Besides doing whatever it is that helps us endure we need to also remember what we’re enduring for. And when the enduring is done to remember to appreciate what we have.

Thinking beyond the thing to be endured and the endurance process itself takes practice. Enjoying things is a skill to be practiced – and one doesn’t have to wait for a perfect time/situation/condition in which to practice. That time is now.

As Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors 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.” “

Anyway, here’s my cat sitting where he can look out on the smokey world. It’s pleasant to watch him watch the world. This photo was taken about noon on Sunday.

And here’s my dog covering his nose, burrowing into a towel, in an effort to get away from the smell of smoke. He’s so sensible – and cute!

Besides working on my art projects and pulling books randomly from my shelves, I’ve still been reading the books I mentioned in my last post.

Also I’ve added to my daily reading an ebook, “The Cat Who Said Cheese” by Lilian Jackson Braun. Walking around inside my house, for gentle exercise, is more fun with a cozy mystery in hand. And since one of the current topics in my head is cats…. this book is lightweight fun for me to burrow into while still being somewhat on topic.

The air quality outdoors here has been so bad that, wisely, all the places hosting my current fine art exhibit “Readings From The Heart” closed temporarily to the public. As of 8 PM Sunday night the Airnow.gov site has my location’s air quality as “beyond index” meaning it is worse than the number they use to indicate really-awful-very-bad-horrible-dangerous. My nose and chest would agree with that assessment. (An air particulate level of 300 to 500 is considered hazardous – ours Sunday eve was well over 500. Monday morning the number is 414… update: at 6pm Monday we are at 517. My local paper has this article. )

But I tend to think that inside a difficulty is an opportunity – a chance to think beyond an immediate crisis – so just as soon as one Gallery told me they were closing I made the ebook version of my artist book about the exhibit available as a free download on my shop page. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you’ll find my free ebooks. You can also see all of my art in the current exhibits from the comfort of your phone here. And if this isn’t nice I don’t know what is!

Please find ways to keep hope alive, to keep enjoying something, to keep going forward somehow and be kind – I will do the same.

See you here next Monday

On being home and enjoying books

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, Books In Art, ebook, sketchbook, small things, Uncategorized, words and pictures

My family’s in self quarantine #stayhome and we’ve been talking (via phone/digital means) with friends who are doing the same. [If you are too – THANK YOU!]

Some of our friends say they’re viewing this quarantine time as a chance to read more books. That reminds me of how revolutionary it was for me to realize that if I started a book I did not have to finish it and that I could choose only fun books to read.

I think I realized this blinding flash of the obvious after graduating college…and no longer had to read for a grade.

Anyway, here’s some of my sketchbook pages with musings on reading fun books (both print and ebooks).

And here’s a link to over 3000 ebooks that are free to download. Surely there’s something fun to read in this lot!! 😁

Here, for any extra amusement in it, is a link to a YouTube video of me doing one of the drawings above: https://youtu.be/UJ_3ptI077s

Pocket Full on new paper

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I was given some art paper during the holiday. So I wrote a poem, illustrated it and folded it into an artist book. It’s titled “Pocket Full” and is a limited edition of 2 unique books.

“Pocket Full” poem and art by Clancy

Btw: Edition 1 already has been sent to a collector. Contact me privately if you’re interested in Edition 2.

Art for the holidays

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I’ve been busy working on fine art commissions which are someone’s holiday gift. So instead of talking about that – below is access to a “Reading All Year” calendar I made, and fun socks and playing cards, bookmarks, puzzles, drink coasters and such…yes, it’s all design play using my own fine art about reading and pets. Art is for making people smile – and I like sharing smiles with fellow book lovers and pet lovers. https://www.zazzle.com/s/sueclancy

https://www.zazzle.com/store/sueclancy/collections

Popup shop success

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, books, Books In Art, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, fine art, functional art, games in art, reading in art, small things

Yesterday was the popup shop day at Vintage Books and I was non-stop busy creating miniature pet portraits from before noon to after 4! It was fun!! Sold other holiday stocking stuffer gifts with my art on them too. My “Reading All Year” calendar was a hit …. if you weren’t able to come yesterday here is the link where you can get my calendar, puzzles, playing cards, bookmarks, prints, coasters and socks. What fun I had hearing people laugh when they saw the visual puns ….

https://www.zazzle.com/s/sueclancy

Here’s a photo of me (wearing green and black) at my popup event. You can see my portable art set up in front of me.

Most of the pet portraits I did are intended as holiday gifts -so no pictures- but here are some comments: “Wow, it looks like a Saturday Evening Post cover art!” “This makes me so happy!” “Oh my (—) is just going to love this!”

The excellent event was capped by comments from the Vintage Books store staff “I never heard so many people say ‘this gives me so much joy'”

Pet portrait project

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Most years near the holiday I do a miniature pet portrait project -creating small pet paintings people often give as gifts. This year I am doing this project as part of my popup shop at Vintage Books, http://www.vintage-books.net Dec 7th from 12 to 4 – and using people’s phone photos as inspiration.

This year I am also teaming up with a local frame shop, Aurora Gallery, http://www.auroragallery.com …. yes, Virginia, it is possible you could walk out of the bookstore Dec 7th with a small framed work of art!

As I have worked on this years version of this project I have been adjusting my portable art kit. .. I will be creating some of the pet portraits at the busy bustling bookstore. The main adjustment to my portable art kit has been the addition of the Pentel Water Brush. It is the blueish colored “pen” in this photo. The water brush stores water inside itself and allows me to work without a pan of water at my elbow. It works well and hopefully the “less potential mess” of it will be welcomed by bookstore staff

Bookstores are sacred places you know.