Of beermats, bears, books, poems, crocodiles and garden garlic scapes

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artistic inspirations, books, children's book, creative thinking, drinks in art, fine art, functional art, household surrealism, life of the mind, poetry, travel art and writing, travelogue, visual story, visual thinking, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

“Warning” by Jenny Joseph is one of my favorite poems. I particularly like these lines “…and hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes…”. But I hadn’t read that poem or thought of it in a while (you can see the entire poem here).

Earlier this month I received the prospectus for a “reclaimed canvas” art exhibit upcoming at the Aurora Gallery. (This is the project I hinted at in my last post.) The Reclaimed Canvas is an art exhibit asking the gallery artists to paint on something not normally used as a canvas or surface for painting. So I began this new project by rummaging around my studio for a not-typical thing to paint on. Look what I found – boxes of pens, pencils and beermats!

Suddenly I remembered the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph…. and had a good chuckle at myself. Of course I reread the poem and laughed some more.

Before we visited, and later moved to, the Pacific Northwest I didn’t think I liked beer. But here in the Pacific Northwest there are locally owned microbreweries and the beer is worth taste testing – and both the brewpubs and the beers often reflect the region in which they’re located. So having a beer in one of the microbrew pubs includes a bit of regional history and personal stories. Often there’s beautiful scenery too. Oh, and did I mention that the beer tastes surprisingly good?

As I looked through my collection of beermats in my pencil box I thought of poetry and word play in general. I also remembered our various visits to the brewpubs whose beermats I had in hand. I evaluated the qualities of the beermats themselves as a possible canvas for a painting.

Here’s the beermat I chose for my new painting project – the first photo shows the front of the beermat and then the next photo shows the back of it.

Bouy Beer is in Astoria Oregon and the brewpub sits right on the water. When entering the pub you can walk over a large glass floor. Through the glass floor you can often see the sea lions lounging on the pier beneath. We’ve enjoyed sitting in the pub on the waters edge, watching ships and marine wildlife. Sitting there, with a beer, I’m aware of the intimate connection this one spot has with the entire world: international ships come and go as do migrating whales, geese and sea lions. I love the way it is both a unique place with it’s own regional quirks and yet it openly, joyfully, participates in a wider world. It’s a wonderful reminder that one can be fully ones particular self while also being fully within, and open to, a diverse world. The food menu at Buoy Beer is also an enchanting fusion of world cuisines… but I dangerously digress. I have so many good memories of this particular pub and look forward to each visit. Oh, and they brew really good beers!

Anyway, for an animal character to use in my painting on the Buoy Beer beermat I thought about having a sea lion drinking beer, a great blue heron drinking beer, a whale drinking…. eventually, after a number of sketchbook drawings, I settled on the character of a bear. My main reasons for choosing a bear is that I could do a wordplay title for the finished art … but also the shape of bear, physically, could evoke the feeling and the relaxing-into-hybernation pose that I associate with the flavor of one of my favorite beers when it’s seasonally available at Bouy Beer.

Here’s a sketch I did when exploring my thoughts.

And below is the painting I did on one of the 4 inch round coasters I had collected during one of our trips to Bouy Beer (which I kept in a pencil box with the rest of my beermat collection – ūü§£). I painted on the coaster with gouache and have titled it …wait for it… “Bear, Matt”

The back of my “Bear, Matt” painting has the title and other data written by hand.

I did seal the beermat with a clear primer before I began painting on it and when my painting was finished and dry I varnished the artwork. Plus the art will likely be framed at the Aurora Gallery. So what was once an ephemeral throw-away object now will potentially last quite a bit longer.

I think of this new project as fitting in with my recent household surrealism thinking: a mundane object was thought about in a new way.

With this thought, given my sense of humor, I simply couldn’t resist turning my original painting “Bear, Matt” back into ephemeral beermats. So on my Zazzle shop I made round paper coasters – beermats – that are copies or art prints of my original “Bear, Matt” artwork! The back of these printed coasters is blank. That’s one way you can tell the copy from the original. You can get these here.

https://www.zazzle.com/bear_matt_paper_coaster-256396249111967834

After finishing “Bear, Matt” and delivering the original to the Aurora Galley a few days ago – I visited, in masked-up person, another favorite local independent bookstore called Daedalus Books. This bookstore is especially alluring for me with my interests in literature, fine art, poetry, books about books, artist books, literary studies, culture, history and philosophy. You can see how tempting it was… in the photo below is my book haul!

Another new project in progress contains a crocodile. In the photo below you can see my orange poetry sketchbook and my crocodile poem written by hand. Also in the photo is a binder that holds my drawing attempts, book dummies and poem drafts. Yes, I’m working on a new children’s book. I plan to update this blog over the coming weeks with my progress…

My spouse’s garden has lots of garlic scapes and some radish greens so the memorable meal this week was the pasta with radish greens and garlic scapes recipe below!

Hope your week is full of fun memories and your own collections of beermats, pencils and pens!

See you next Monday?

absurd things on rainy days

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Books In Art, Cats in art, Dogs in Art, magic realism, mundane and magical moments, pattern design, reading in art, sketchbook, travelogue, visual story, visual thinking

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”.

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“100 Things To Do On A Rainy Day” by Clancy – 11 x 14 inches – ink and gouache on board

pie places and mapping the mundanely magical

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, food in art, illustrated shorts, maps, mundane and magical moments, psychogeography, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, visual thinking

In my early 20’s I worked as a graphic designer for the Center For Economic Management Research where I took business statistics and turned them into maps and all sorts of illustrations. It was fun to learn that there are magical people behind those dry lists of mundane numbers!

Well fast forward to today – and I still like maps. I think of map-making as sorting mundane information via my imagination. For example; I’ve recently taken my running around sketchbook pages that depict places where good pie can be found and have turned the accumulated info into a map titled “Pie Places in Vancouver WA”. You can find this map and my other maps here and here.

And yes, you can really go and get a yummy slice of pie from any of these real-life places:

 

 

on sustaining creativity

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, graphic narrative, illustrated shorts, psychogeography, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, travelog, travelogue, visual story, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

Especially when I’m super busy working on a one-person art exhibit I rely even more on my sustainable creativity technique of “running around loose”.¬† I define “running around loose” as going about my nearby surroundings like a child or a dog in a park; poking about and exploring as if there are no time constraints in the world.¬† My cell phone gets turned off and shoved deep into the bottom of my bag. It is there only for emergency use on the scale of needing to call 911.¬† I don’t use the GPS function on my phone either. “Running loose” involves getting lost, losing track of time and generally living by-guess-by-golly (no preconceived plan) for an afternoon into the evening.

I’ll bring my sketchbook and write, draw and paint but I do it with no agenda, no particular project in mind. The idea is to play like a child or a puppy. To observe my surroundings with curious, free-associative, eyes.

This is particularly helpful as a refresher when I’m coming down to the wire on an art exhibit.¬† I’m to deliver all of the artwork for my upcoming one-person exhibit at the end of May – and before that there’s all the paperwork.¬† So I’ve got to be fresh and remember why I’ve done all this artwork – and even get excited about it again.

I’ve been working toward this exhibit for about one year. I’m a bit tired by the time the exhibit nears. But it wouldn’t do to have a “well whatever” attitude here at the finish line.¬† Thus my mega-recharge session.

Here’s what I did in my sketchbooks when I “ran around loose” recharging my batteries for a whole day in Vancouver Washington and Woodland WA :

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I was particularly struck by the various colors of purple that I saw on the grapes I ate for a snack – and the many different colors of purple in the tulip gardens and lilac gardens in Woodland WA. Here are some sketchbook pages:

After running loose for a day I felt pleasantly tired but like I’d had a mini-staycation. Great recharge session!!

Links for where I “ran loose”:

https://www.cityofvancouver.us/parksrec/page/old-apple-tree-park

http://www.lilacgardens.com/

https://www.hollandbulbfarms.com

 

sketching the coast

A Creative Life, Art Word Combinations, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, graphic narrative, illustrated shorts, illustration, Narrative Art, published art, sketchbook, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, visual story, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

Happy New Year everyone! New on newsstands is a magazine, Oregon Coast Magazine, in which is a 4 page article that I both wrote and illustrated!¬† It was such fun to do a “sketching the coast” article for them that I want to do more such writing plus illustrating this year. Here’s a link for Oregon Coast Magazine https://oregoncoastmagazine.com/.

SketchingTheCoast1819a72

birthday book

A Creative Life, artist book, artistic inspirations, drawing as thinking, ebook, sketchbook, travelogue, visual story

It’s my birthday so you get a present! Because you’re a regular reader of my posts, here is a free downloadable e-book copy of my “Running Around Loose” sketchbook. It’s a pdf file, click RunningLooseVanEd1byClancy to download the book for free (it’s a birthday gift!). I’ll include a few sample pages in this post so you’ll have some clues as to what you’ll get when you open the file. Enjoy! And thanks again for looking at my stuff!

Now please pass the strawberries and whipped cream.

RiverwalkJavaHouse

HouseConcert

McMenamins

SavonaCoffeeRiverwalk

pages from “Running Around Loose in Vancouver WA” by Clancy

Oh yes Рyou can find more of my artist books here: https://sueclancy.com/shop/  and here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/

four topic sketchbook keeping

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, ebook, kitchen art, psychogeography, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, Sustainable creativity, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, visual thinking

Oh I’ve had an excellent question asked of me! Here’s the question: “Do you keep separate sketchbooks for different subjects/projects/media or do you use one sketchbook for all sorts of art experiments and ideas?”

My answer:¬† I used to keep one sketchbook but I found it hard to find the bit of research I needed because I’d have to flip through the whole book to find something.¬† Now I keep sketchbooks by topic.

Here is one of my “kitchen sketchbooks” – recipe inspired art – where I am inspired to draw by a recipe I’m cooking. This book is 5 x 4 inches in size, sewn binding and paper that can handle ink and water-media.¬† This way my favorite recipes are all in one spot – and when I have an ingredient I can flip through this one book to find a recipe that I know works and that my family likes.¬† This sketchbook, additionally, is my “testing ground” for ways to combine food, drink and art together – ways to interpret food/drink artistically.¬† This sketchbook is also a place where I’ll try new-to-me art media or methods. I’ve been trying gouache lately and I posted a few pages from this book the other day https://sueclancy.com/from-my-kitchen-sketchbook/ – Here’s what the outside of my current kitchen sketchbook looks like:

MouthpieceFourCover72

I have been working on a new series of fine art paintings with Cats as the main characters. So I have one sketchbook that collects my cat related painting practice and research. In it I’ve been studying cat shapes and experimenting with lines, colors. I’ve also experimented with combinations of collage, ink and water-media. This sketchbook is called “Various Cat Sketches” and is 8.5 x 11 in size, with a sewn binding. Here, below, is what the outside of it looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages on this blog soon because it will contribute to an upcoming fine art exhibition

VariousSketchesCover72.

Another current sketchbook is my “Running Around Loose” book. This is the sketchbook that fits in my small go-sketching bag and is 3 x 5 inches, with a sewn binding, water-media ready paper in a landscape format. In this book I record my observations of the world around me; places I go, people I see, food or drink I have. It could easily be called a travel sketchbook¬† but I call it my “running around loose” book because that’s what I try to do as I run around town with this book – be loose and free with my lines, colors and thoughts. Here, below, what this book looks like. I’ll post more of it’s pages here too.¬† (I’ve posted my last sketchbook like this as an ebook titled “Glad To be Alive” available for download here)

RunningLooseCover72

And the 4th topical sketchbook is called “The Forked Tale: thoughts about creative life”.¬† This one is a hardback book 6 inches tall by 8 inches wide and over an inch thick. In it I’ve collected my thoughts, readings, quotes etc. about this business of being creative.¬† I’ve shown pages from this book to friends before who enjoyed it and found it helpful. But recently my friend Liesl was over for dinner and asked me a question about art-studio furniture. We kept talking about aspects of living a creative life and eventually I got out this book and shared it with her. She very strongly encouraged me to publish this book. So I will. After all she’d brought a very good wine to dinner. Here, below, what the outside of this sketchbook looks like.

ForkedTaleCover72

Yes, this method of sketchbook keeping helps me to organize and find things but keeping topical sketchbooks is also helpful when I only have a short span of time to work. I can select a topic and can get right to it because I don’t have to wonder what topic to paint/work on.¬†

Thanks for the question! I’d not thought to do a blog post outlining this method of mine before!

on sketchbooks and sharing

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, ebook, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, Not-So-Sketchy-Food, publications - publishing, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, travelog, travelogue, visual story

I tend to live my life with my sketchbook in hand. Consequently this means meeting up with friends and answering the “What have you been doing lately?” questions by handing them my physical sketchbook. More than one friend has looked at my book and said “Why don’t you publish these?”. And I’ve had very loose ambitions of publishing some of them…

But finally after hearing the request for the umpteenth time I’ve begun setting up a system so I can do that. Here’s the link I’m working on – https://sueclancy.com/shop/

And here are some random pages from some of the ebooks currently in my “shop”. I will be publishing more of my sketchbooks and artist books as ebooks as time goes on…

memory music mountains and living rooms

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, food for thought, music in art, sketchbook, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue, words and pictures

Sweetie and I did a short road trip to Mount St. Helens in Washington. We hiked around,¬†saw a lot of birds. Sweetie heard the birds¬†singing and said they were quite a musical chorus.¬† At the visitor’s center people “danced” about getting photos in front of the mountain. I drew this in my sketchbook using ink and watercolor:

MtStHelens72

Sketchbook page by Sue Clancy

Then at the visitor’s center¬†we¬†went into¬†the Mount. St. Helens¬†gift shop. From past experience we’ve learned that their collection of books for sale¬†on the¬†topics of¬†botany, zoology and biology¬†is a gold mine. Several books come home with us each trip. This time was no exception. One of the titles that came home with us is “Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains.” by Daniel Mathews.

On page 429 I read (about birds caching food) “Phenomenal ability to remember precise locations evolved separately in the chickadees and the jays that cache food for winter, and in many migrating species. Some of these species have nonmigratory or noncaching relatives whose powers of recall don’t amount to diddley squat.¬† Another kind of memory that must be worth holding on to is a male warbler’s memory of conspecific males’ songs.¬† As long as each singer remembers his neighbor’s song from the year before, and stays on his own territory, both are spared a fight. They remember songs from year to year as they return from Central America to reclaim their old haunts.”

That got me to thinking about the traveling troubadours of ancient times.¬† And from that thought I¬†migrated (pun intended) to thinking of¬†how, here in the Pacific Northwest, there is a “new” tradition of traveling musicians who give what is called “living room concerts” in private homes.¬† The home-owner hosts the musicians, putting them up for a night or two, and invites a number of family and friends to come to¬†a concert. A certain amount of money is collected per attendee and most of that money goes to the musician.¬† The musician also sells their CD’s and what not during the evening.

I’m quite addicted to this ‘living room concert’ tradition. I find that even though I’m deaf I can “hear” the music better in a small intimate setting. There are also several local¬†small independent¬†theatres¬†– and there’s fairly good hearing there too.¬†My point being that¬†the music I’ve heard since we’ve lived here in the Pacific Northwest has inspired a lot of my recent artwork. And I suspect this trend will continue.

The concept of a birds ability to remember where they put their food also made me think about the seasonal offerings at the local Pacific Northwest¬†restaurants.¬†¬†When I say “seasonal offering”¬†I mean it. There’s a short time when a certain fruit or veg is available at the local farms so the pubs and restaurants will offer special¬†dishes¬†that use that fruit/veg and then¬†when it’s gone. It’s gone.

We’ve lived here long enough now that I’m beginning to remember, for example,¬†what pubs¬†will offer¬†the “fresh asparagus ‘fries’ ” during peak¬†asparagus season. I’m also remembering which farmers market stands sell the freshest berries and apples. I love the seasonal¬†randomness¬†it’s like a perpetual¬†surprise party but the ability to remember what is ripe during what season is¬†helpful to know.

Needless to say I’ve been artistically inspired by the food. And that’ll prolly (as they say here) continue too.

There’s something about memory and food and music…. something that I just itch to make fine art about. So stay tuned. (pun intended again)

alive and sketching

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, ebook, psychogeography, sketchbook, travel art and writing, travelog, travelogue

I have an ancient Sufi saying posted on my studio wall “Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive”. ¬†So when I go sketching I’m looking for things in the world that catch my eye, gives me an artistic thought or two – and yes, makes me glad to be alive.

Which dovetails nicely with the Thanksgiving season. I’m glad to be alive and to be able to be an artist – and thankful for living in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by so much natural beauty and so many artistically inspiring places, people, dogs, cats and things… food and drink too…

So I’m flirting with thoughts of publishing my sketchbook as an ebook/artist book.¬†Here are two¬†of the potential pages about a place I hiked called “Hamilton Mountain”.

What do you think?  To publish or not to publish. That is the question to take up after the holiday.

hamiltonmnt72

Sue Clancy’s sketch on Hamilton Mountain¬†(pen, ink and watercolor)

hamilton372

Sue Clancy’s sketch of things found on Hamilton Mountain