play and focus as a business of art model

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, business of art, Sustainable creativity

I got some new-to-me kinds of watercolors. Chinese watercolors to go along with my Sumi ink. So I had to play with them.  Here’s my test case below.

MeasureSpoonsPractice

Feels good to just play around with my art supplies – kind of like eating mac-n-cheese right out of the pan while wearing pajamas and watching a movie.

After I was finished it turns out that I like the yellow spoon drawing best because after attempting the green and the blue spoon drawings I learned that applying the sumi ink last makes for the boldest lines.

Yep. I highly recommend playing around with ones art supplies as a way to refresh and  sustain creativity.  I’ve not seen this important sustainable creativity business method discussed much in the business-of-art books. It oughta be…

My business-of-art model goes like this:

  1. Play around with my materials often. Both new materials and old ones. Experiment.  Make a mess.
  2. Focus on what I’m doing instead of how well I’m doing it. Focus on the fun.

Another way of describing my business-of-art model goes like this:

AHappyTail72

page from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

Like happiness good artwork often happens while we’re doing something else.

business of art book review

A Creative Life, Authors, books, business of art, Sustainable creativity

Long ago, in what seems now like a galaxy far away, I organized a business of art seminar series called the Artist Survival Kit.  It was part of my work on the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s board. I also wrote a quarterly column on business of art topics for the magazine Art Focus Oklahoma. Part of my work included reading and reviewing published books about the business of being an artist.

Then I “retired” from doing all that and went on with my life as a fine artist and author/illustrator. Of course I continued to regularly read books on business topics.

Warp-speed ahead to the Pacific Northwest: when any two local artists get together we talk shop – creativity and business stuff – which includes discussions about books we’re reading. And the more-abundant bookshops and libraries here have impressive selections of business-of-art books sitting right there on a shelf!  (Imagine that!?!) Which brings me to this book I just finished titled “Real Artists Don’t Starve” by Jeff Goins. (and yes, that’s my coffee cup in the photo)

DSC_0041

My thoughts about “Real Artist’s Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins are below in random order:

It’s worth a read no matter where you are in your art career and worth keeping on your studio shelves for that moment when you need an “I can do this” boost.

I love the easy-to-read quality to the writing, how he clearly explains concepts about business in ways that don’t send your creative self whimpering into a corner.

I love it that he emphasizes thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur. Particularly on page 147 where he writes “Some artists tend to think making money is either a system you sell out to or something to be avoided altogether. But in reality, it’s neither. If you don’t make money, you won’t have any art to make. We must seek to better understand the business of being an artist. Ignoring this reality is the fastest route to stop creating all together. To be an artist is to be an entrepreneur. We must learn to embrace this tension and the beauty that comes from it.”

Yep – that sums up exactly what I tried to teach all those years ago in Oklahoma. But I think Jeff does a much better job of explaining things than I did – pictures being my preferred medium to words-in-a-row. Jeff Goins is much better at the words-in-a-row.  So I’m very glad he wrote this book and I’m glad to recommend it.  I’m also grateful that I now live in a place, in an artistic scene, where it was possible to  “happen on” to it.

As Jeff Goins writes on page 91 “As artists, we want to be where we feel understood. We want to live in places where our work and way of life are encouraged.”

After reading this book I certainly feel encouraged! Now I’m going to go create something.

(Oh, by the way, I sometimes post tid-bits about art related books on my Goodreads page…)

Bear salad and artistic kitchens

A Creative Life, Art Licensing, artistic inspirations, business of art, drawing as thinking, functional art, kitchen art, sketchbook suppers, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking, words and pictures

In my last post I mentioned a new project I’m working on – “Bear Salad”.  Well, in general my new project is a series of art-prints art-illustrations related to the kitchen.

The evolution-tree of this new project goes like this:

When I was in art school I learned from some of my older-wiser fellow art majors how vital being able to cook (and mix your own drinks) was to survival in business as an artist.

Since my college days my hobby has been cooking.  Specifically easy-to-fix meals that are often one-pot or two-bowl wonders.  As a busy professional artist I don’t have lots of time to do multi-dish crazy-complicated menus but I also want my food to be “artistic”. I want it to be colorful and look good on a plate – and taste yummy.  Why leave my artistic creative self in the studio? Why not bring my eye-for-color, texture and pattern into my kitchen – and add the art of flavor?

I love and collect cookbooks – especially the visually beautiful ones. Additionally I take cooking classes for fun and relaxation.  I have secretly harbored a desire to write, illustrate and design a cookbook. (You can see evidence of this in my ebook “Coffee, Table, Book” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book)

Consequently food and drink has been a theme in my fine artwork for years. It’s been such a constant theme that I’ve gotten requests, as I did again recently, asking if I have “…art prints with dogs and food?”

It seems that people want my lighthearted colorful art for their kitchens but some people are afraid to put an expensive original artwork in a place where cooking-mess sometimes happens.  So I’d begun a series of art prints for kitchens.  You can see this here: https://society6.com/sueclancy/prints

As I’ve mentioned I take cooking classes… well most recently Chef Kim Mahan of www.class-cooking.com has kindly let me illustrate some of her recipes and kitchen tips! So you’ll be seeing more of these illustrations a little along as part of my new kitchen-art project.  I’ve turned Chef Kim’s recipe for “pear salad” into a kitchen print called “Bear Salad”. Here’s a link for the giclee art print – https://society6.com/product/bear-salad_print#s6-7068429p4a1v45

Here is my finished illustration of “Bear Salad” – and yes, I’m still playing with words and pictures – My goal is to create a series of lighthearted visually fun kitchen art pieces that just happen to be practical too.

P. S. – My experience of life as a professional artist has proven that my art school peers were correct; knowing how to cook and mix drinks has been a vital business-of-art survival tip!

 

 

 

what about chip monk beer art

A Creative Life, animals in art, Art Licensing, artistic inspirations, small things, Sustainable creativity

Five years ago I’d done an original artwork, inspired by beers here in the Pacific Northwest, titled “Chip Monk”.  Well, the original sold about 10 minutes after it was hung on the gallery wall. Fast forward 5 years and I’m still getting comments about and requests for that particular image. Some even asked me multiple times “Will you please make a print of the Chip Monk?”

So, because I love my fans, I’ve done an art print of it now, titled “Chip Monk Beer”, via Society 6 – https://society6.com/sueclancy – and I also applied the art image on a few other items. Enjoy! And thanks everyone for your support of my artwork!!

chip-monk-beer378158-framed-prints

designing a creative life 3 ways

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, mental health, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking

“Art cannot be separated from life. It is the expression of the greatest need of which life is capable. And we value art not because of the skilled product, but because of its revelation of a life’s experience.” – Robert Henri (American painter).  

I’ve been thinking of that quote today – and thinking of the people who have told me that they want to “be more creative” but aren’t sure how to start or what to draw. I’ve been thinking of how easy it is now for me to find subject matter. But it wasn’t always so.

As a young art student one of my first college assignments was to “do a 4 foot by 4-foot painting in acrylic of any subject matter but it cannot be abstract.”  Well that was a stumper. What to paint?  My professor went on to tell my class about how we needed to look around our own lives, our own experiences and find subject matter there.

That helped somewhat but still… what to make art about? My college life seemed boring and un-dramatic. How to identify subject matter I cared about?

I muddled through the school assignment and over the years got better at coming up with subject matter. It took even more time for me to figure out that a system of “short bursts of creativity” worked best for me but here’s what I’ve learned on my personal quest for the fountain of continually-interesting-to-me artistic subject matter:

A.   Keep a daily sketchbook, 5 to 10 minutes of work at a time, in which I draw or write about anything that occurs during a day that “catches my attention”. No censorship. No “trying to make art”. Just make notes, doodles. Play. Note the fun stuff, the things I’m grateful for and things that make me laugh or feel curious.

B.  After several weeks or months of sketchbook work I look back through my book and notice any reoccurring themes and I list them.

C.  I select one of the themes and set a series of creative appointments with myself to do a “real drawing” of that theme using good art materials. The creative appointments are 10 to 20 minutes of work/play at a time. I purposefully keep these sessions short! Repeat the creative appointments (aka short bursts of creativity) until the drawing is finished.

Then I select that same theme – or a similar one from my sketchbook – and do another “real drawing” – trying to do an even better job of communicating my thought or feeling. Again, no censorship, no “trying to make great art” – just trying to draw as neatly as possible, to convey as clearly as possible what “caught my attention”.

I keep working in my sketchbook every day even when I have a creative appointment with myself. Both of these 10 minute activities go on behind the scenes of my very busy professional artist life – and this “short bursts” concept could work within anyone’s “too busy” life and add more ongoing creativity. (Also, this concept builds on my “designing habits” concept from an earlier blog post: https://sueclancy.com/2017/03/29/designing-habits-6-ways/ )

Here’s a visual-thinking-drawing I did that describes this in a different way:

ShortBurstsCreativeTime72

For me it has turned out that creativity is a lot like happiness – it follows me wherever I go.  Below is a cartoon I drew about happiness that explains this concept in yet another way – it’s from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

AHappyTail72

page from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

You can also see one of my published sketchbooks as an ebook here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book

cephalopods and the art of small things

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, mental health, small things, Sustainable creativity, visual story, visual thinking

Yesterday I read an article titled “Cephalopods Adapt By Editing Their Genes” and that reminded me of the value in periodically examining our own assumptions, our own stories, our own worldview and being willing to rearrange our own mental furniture.

Perhaps adapting or editing the stories you tell yourself is the human equivalent of editing genetic code as a cephalopod?

Reexamining stories, assumptions and the kinds of questions you ask are also keys to creative thinking.

I’ve noticed that the kinds of questions a person asks makes a difference in creative thinking. For example asking “How can I include at least one fresh vegetable in this meal?” elicits a more exciting creative response than the question “How can I eat more healthfully?”

Likewise asking the small question “What art medium/technique would be most fun to use to depict my favorite food?” provokes a more joyous creative response than the question “What fine art can I make on a universal theme?”

Most days I wake up thinking “what small thought can I think about or re-think about today?”

So today’s small things I’m thinking about are pictured here:

DSC_0010

By list:

“Cephalopods adapt by editing their genes” http://www.columbian.com/news/2017/apr/13/cephalopods-adapt-by-editing-their-genes/

“The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart

“Creative, Inc.” by Meg Mateo Ilasco & Joy Cho

A postcard of “Chaco Culture” a National Historical Park in New Mexico

My coffee cup and a glass marble.

And to put the concept in this blog post yet another way: Here is a page from my book “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

TheGemstone72

 

 

art of quick coffee

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, drawing as thinking, Sue Draws Dogs, Sustainable creativity

I’ve been very busy with art commissions and upcoming art exhibit work lately – but thank goodness for my practice of making a creative appointment with myself. When I do this I set aside 5 to 15 minutes to do a “quick study” on one of my regular themes…. it’s a way to take a breather, meditate/think on a topic while doing something creative.

Here’s a recent “quick study”:

Arlie

“Arlie” by Clancy – ink on handmade paper.

You can see more art like this in my recent book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

what is art for and 3 ways to find out

A Creative Life, animals in art, artistic inspirations, mental health, Sustainable creativity

Professional artist’s ask themselves “what is art for?” and answer it for themselves because that helps us know why we’re doing what they are doing. And knowing this helps you keep on course.

Here’s a sketchbook page from a time when I was examining this question:

ArtGenresPurpose

For me “art is for” good mental health practice – and to provoke a smile, a chuckle.  To quote from my book Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit “When a negative thought enters your mind just say (inwardly) ‘STOP’. It’s your brain, your mind and you have every right to think the thoughts you want…. Don’t let a negative thought ever finish its sentence…. How many ‘STOP’s are enough? As many as it takes. It is also helpful to keep a list of positive things that you enjoy thinking about or doing, like books/reading, walking… going to art exhibits… playing tennis… and after inwardly saying ‘STOP’ switch your focus to something positive and enjoyable.” (https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit)

So my goal as a professional artist became to create fine art, books and other objects that are positive and enjoyable for other people to see – switch focus to – and that are also  positive and enjoyable for me to create.  I decided that the genres of “animal painting” and “genre painting” best fit this goal.  For short I call this goal to “feed the good wolf”.

To make sure you know what I mean by that here’s a cartoon excerpt from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit”

TwoWolves72

excerpt from Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

But how exactly did I get to a defined goal, a “purpose” for my art?

  1. I went to lots of art galleries and museums. I read a lot of books. I listened to other people talk about what they enjoyed. Anywhere and everywhere I went I made a quick note of what interested me or fed my “good wolf” in a book that I kept with me at all times.
  2. I looked for art supplies and other opportunities to “test the theory” of whether or not something really did feed my good wolf. For example at one time I thought creating sculpture would be “good wolf food” for me – but I discovered that it was too physically difficult and in the process of creating sculpture I ended up cursing a lot. So after some time spent trying metal sculpture I nixed that one from the “good wolf food” list.
  3. I played with the genres and arts categories while making a note of my responses emotionally, physically, mentally.  By “play” I mean I casually went to art exhibits,  looked at objects in a store or on-line that fit the genre/category, I tried the genres at home and all the while I noted my gut response – did it feed my ‘good wolf’? Did it make me smile and want to “share it” in some way with a person I love? What is it about that art/object that excites me? Then I list those qualities and pursue them in my own projects!  (As I mentioned above it turned out that the animals-in-art genre fit me well!)

Speaking of projects –  here’s a very new project for me that fits with my “feed good wolves” goal: I’ve begun designing for iPhone cases, Laptop skins, wall clocks, comforters and many other tech and household objects. (If you noticed that these items fit in the genres of  ‘animals in art”, ‘genre painting’ and ‘media arts’ you get a gold star sticker!)  The link to my newest project: https://society6.com/sueclancy – and here below are a few examples.

 

designing habits 6 ways

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, mental health, Sustainable creativity

“Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive” – an old saying that Dr. Bob Hoke reminded me of often.  I’ve been thinking of that today – and thinking of how easy it is to form habits, how quickly these habits become the “air” we breath. This air becomes so normal that we soon think that things have “always been this way”.

As a professional artist my job depends on my “thought systems” – the quality of my ideas and how well I’m able to communicate them. I’ve modified Dr. Hoke’s saying above to “Stay close to anything that makes you want to be creative”.  My imagination is formed – fed – by my life experiences so I try to be careful what of my life experience becomes “normal”.  I do not, for example, keep mint candies in my house/studio as I know I have a hard time eating just one.  Similarly I purposefully create art studio habits that help me to happily achieve my goals:

  1. Keep favorite art supplies on hand, things I want to pick up and use.
  2. Leave some of the favorite art supplies or an in-progress project out on a work surface that I’ll see when I first walk into my studio. That way I get right to work.
  3. Keep a strict work schedule -be ruthless- decide what needs to be done/can be done within a day/work period and do it.  (And no, I’m not always perfect at this – it’s a goal) At the end of each work day I make a list of what needs to be done tomorrow. This list is broken into small achievable steps like “gesso boards” – that can be easily picked up/begun.
  4. Keep a list of quotes, photos (etc.) that stimulate my creativity/good habits – I post these encouraging items somewhere visible. It is best if it is something that makes me smile and want to do my best.
  5. Keep phones and other distracting items out of the studio for set periods of time. See number 3 above again. Rinse. Repeat.
  6. Keep a list of favorite people – think of them and make something each day with them in mind. Keep a list of favorite places, foods, music, movies, books – etc – and use them as a “guiding light” for creative efforts. (i.e. view them as a mentor, a source of encouragement, something that feeds my good wolf/your better angels, reminds me that it CAN be done.) Create habits of happiness – and happiness out of habits.

Flannery O’Connor once said “I’m a full-time believer in writing habits…You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away…Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do. I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.”

For me it comes down to doing my best to be aware of what I pick up and spend time on – and choosing carefully. Below is a cartoon I drew that puts this concept in another way – it’s from “Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit” https://store.bookbaby.com/book/dr-bobs-emotional-repair-program-first-aid-kit

TheSnake

collecting coffee cups and recipes

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, fine art, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, travel art and writing

Spent a self indulgent morning drinking Irish coffee and reading newspapers, magazines and books – and discussing what I read with my sweetie. Life doesn’t get better that that! I also collected the dishes. Meaning that I went through my various sketchbooks and collected drawings I’d done of coffee cups. Drawings I’d done when we went to various coffee shops or happy hours and had coffee drinks. In my fine artwork I often depict my dogs or cats drinking coffee or tea – so I thought it’d be good to have a collection of “dishes” all in one place to pull from when it’s time to make fine art.

Here’s one page of my coffee cup collection. There are many more pages filled with cups … but one page will give you the idea.

coffeecupsa72

page from Sue Clancy’s sketchbook

Here below is a “raw” sketchbook page from which I collected one of the coffee cup shapes that was  collected into one of my other “all cups together” sketchbook pages – but the above cups came from “raw” sketchbook pages too.  I say “raw” pages because these small sketchbooks fit in my pocket and are drawn on the fly as life happens. I’ll refine them or re-draw them later.

mnttaborbakery

page from Sue Clancy’s “raw” pocket sketchbook

Living here in the Pacific Northwest I’ve been fascinated with the variety of coffee drinks available as well as the kinds of cups the drinks are served in. Did you know that there are some 44 different coffee drink types? I didn’t until I started noticing. I’ve not tried them all yet but I have learned to ask my barista questions. Learned a lot that way! And of course while I’m drawing in my sketchbook I write down the recipes as told to me – and then, if I try to make it at home I’ll note in my sketchbook my favorite mix. I think of it as part of my on-going “know thyself” self-education program. The recipes make their way into my fine art too – just less obviously. Here’s my favorite recipe for Irish Coffee.

IrishCoffee

recipe for Irish Coffee made as Sue Clancy likes it