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!

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.

The good things of this life

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art supplies, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, children's book, creative thinking, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, illustrated poem, Patch La Belle, poetry, reading, sketchbook, writing and illustrating

A fun creative exercise is to list the good things in my life. As the saying goes here’s “a few of my favorite things”. Items on my list are in bold type.

Painting. Basset Hounds. Flowers. I combined these favorites in a mixed media painting titled “The Goods Of This Life”. It’s 8 x 11 inches and was made using ink, color pencil, gouache and collage on board.

Below is a closer look at my painting. This is a new piece in my Odditerrarium series for upcoming exhibit at Caplan Art Designs.

And yes, the orchids are a homage to my adopted Mom (mentioned last post).

Art supplies. I’ve been channeling my inner Julia Child and practicing talking while doing a drawing demonstration for  NIL-TECH. In this video I’m sharing how I get my ideas and start a drawing using watercolor pencils.

The idea for this “Coffee Pup” drawing was inspired by the feeling of enjoying the first sip of good coffee. Coffee is another good thing.

More information about the art supplies seen in this video here- http://shop.nil-tech.com/?ref=DmLN4hDZ

You can find the rest of this demo here https://sueclancy.com/portfolio/drawing-demos-by-clancy/

Fountain pens and poetry and the awareness of caring… 3 more good things.

Family. That’s a really big good thing! A group of us got together to watch a great nephew’s university soccer game! We had such fun seeing each other and cheering for our nephew!

Friends are another really big good thing and cookouts … two more good things that I enjoy. Naturally I had put them in a poem in my artist book Patch La Belle.

Libraries. Oh my goodness libraries are such gifts! Both the public libraries and private libraries you assemble yourself at home are treasures!! We recently visited our local library for the first time since the pandemic began in early 2020. Since the pandemic started we’ve primarily checked out the ebooks. I certainly count ebooks among the good things in life but printed books… oh, it was such a treat to get print books during our recent visit!

One of these days I’ll write more about why libraries and books are so important in my creative life. But not in this post. In case you’re curious, however, about how books relate to my creative life I’ve begun keeping a public list of some of my favorite books that help me in my creativity here: https://bookshop.org/shop/clancy

I never know when a good thing will inspire art – which is why I keep lists in my sketchbook. If you haven’t already signed up to get my email newsletter in which I share my sketchbook pages please do! https://sueclancy.substack.com/

I hope your week contains many of the good things in your life…and that you’re able to notice them. See you next Monday.

Hedgehogs, foxes, reading and making meaning

A Creative Life, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, art prints, art techniques, artistic inspirations, creative thinking, fine art, life of the mind, mental health, sketchbook, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

I wrote in my last post that there may be hedgehogs and foxes in my upcoming sketchbook pages because I’m reading “The Hedgehog and the Fox” Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay about Tolstoy and history based on the Greek aphorism “The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing”

In his book Isaiah Berlin writes (I’m paraphrasing) of how history is actually created by a whole bunch of people but when we talk about a time in history we tend to single out one person as a “hero” and the lone “causal agent” of an event. Berlin writes of how as a creative person Tolstoy was naturally a “many things” fox but as he got older Tolstoy wanted to be a hedgehog with “one big thing” that explains everything.

My reading got me to thinking about hedgehogs, foxes, Tolstoy’s demands of himself as a creative person and how that aphorism related to creativity. I said something about that and my friend Liz Gauffreau asked me how hedgehogs relate to the literary world:

Well, besides the fact that both foxes and hedgehogs are so very cute and fun to draw and write about here are a few of my somewhat random thoughts while reading the essay by Isaiah Berlin. Don’t worry I’ll intersperse my thoughts with sketchbook drawings of hedgehogs and foxes using all 3 of the new fountain pens I described in my last post. (BTW there are even more fox and hedgehog sketchbook pages in my recent email newsletter )

As I read Berlin’s essay I’m realizing that as  a creative person I use the fox-like kind of “knowing many things” in a free ranging playful open way while I’m in the midst of creating. I’m free-associating between many things while I’m on the hunt for how to best express my elusive thought. But once I’ve finished my creation and caught my thought then, if I’m not careful, I can curl up into a prickly ball hedgehog-like defensive about whether my creation “means” something, what it means, whether it was worth doing, which “one big things” label it belongs within…etc. Staying for any amount of time in such a prickly ball isn’t helpful.

This getting stuck in a hedgehog ball mode happened more often in my younger years but still occasionally I feel a despairing “what was the point of doing all that?” moment. By now I know not to “feed” such overly self-critical negative thoughts and to deliberately stretch out and switch my thinking to some other more pleasant topic. I know such moments will pass especially after a good meal, a good night’s sleep, time spent reading a novel or going for a walk with my spouse. It’s not always easy but that’s the way I deal with it. I avoid getting stuck by deliberately keeping fluid movements between the modes of fox and hedgehog. Anyway, in my mind, that’s one part of how hedgehogs and foxes figure in the creative/literary life.

Another part of how hedgehogs and foxes figure in to it: our creative life isn’t “one big thing”: we aren’t the sum total of one published book or one painting. We aren’t one label. A creative life is cumulative. Of course when people talk about artists or writers shorthand references – labels – are often made like “So And So is the insert genre label author of Famous Book”. But this is just a way of speaking, a verbal convention. It’s even a necessary one because we use helpful labels to find things, like books to read, and a name or a genre category label is a great starting place.

Yet during the lived reality of a creative life things aren’t so simplistic. Creativity is many-things fox like when we’re in the midst of our unnamed, unlabeled creative project. It can feel unfocused, messy, free ranging all over the territory at the beginning only slowly becoming focused over time as the thought “scent” is caught and the project develops towards completion. After completion then the one-big-thing hedgehog label can be applied. And while my diagram below simplifies the fox/hedgehog creative process please know that this process isn’t linear, its fluid, there will be foxhogs and hedgeoxes, there’ll be all sorts of fits and starts, beginnings and endings, rushing currents and still pools… before a project is finished.

This process of metamorphosis from fox to hedgehog is part of why it is such a challenge for writers and artists to think up loglines or book jacket blurbs or elevator speeches or art statements that sum up their creation in a few sentences (or a Tweet). To sum up their work of the last few years, work they sweated daily over, work they gnashed their teeth on – to distill what it was about using 150 words or less both encompasses and transcends the lived creative process itself. It’s hard to rise above the creative life meadows where the foxes and hedgehogs have played and, from a birds eye viewpoint, select a single meaning for the shorthand talking points. This difficulty is why it’s also a challenge to write query letters that briefly describe a manuscript submission. It’s hard to reduce a fox-y many splendors creation down to a hedgehog-y one big thing and to call the hedgehog an accurate, yet attractive, name.

By the way if you formulate the hedgehog one-big-thing, the logline or art statement, in advance and are rigid about it (i.e. curl up in a prickly hedgehog ball) the resulting project is seldom satisfying to either the foxes aka the creators themselves or to their audience.

And yet a hedgehog can be a great starting place – if you aren’t rigid about the hedgehog label and use it as a prompt! It’s highly likely that a creation that starts out as one defined hedgehog can shape-shift to a fox during the creative process and finish up needing an entirely different hedgehog-y label. So that’s another reason it’s a challenge at the end of a project to select the exact hedgehog that was metamorphosed from that fox. This is also part of the exhilarating fun of a creative life.

We enjoy the arts for the fox-y complexity of many things in them – we talk about that complexity we enjoyed viscerally using simple hedgehog-y verbage. The fox represents a direct experience and a nonverbal expression of life. The hedgehog represents a definition and ways of talking about that artistic representation of life. We need both the foxes and the hedgehogs. The challenge is to remain loose, open, letting the foxes and hedgehogs become themselves while also keeping a benevolent watch over them.

What a work of art or literature “means” in the big scheme of it’s hedgehog label, is identified (if ever) after the work has been  made and existed in the world a while. After the artist is finished then we use simple language to sum up what a creation meant. We give it a genre, a category, a label. That summing up or meaning finding is done and verified over the duration of time that the art exists – it gets reevaluated by the artist and by the audience constantly. The lables often get changed multiple times before they “settle” if they ever do. Almost all of Tolstoy’s work has gotten reevaluated numerous times since the era in which he was living and working.

From a creative person’s point of view I find it’s sanity-saving to not worry about the meaning of one work in the big scheme of things but to just get on with the next project. I don’t worry overmuch about the hedgehog labels I give my work for use when submitting or promoting it. As I wrote in my last post I’m regularly surprised by what labels publishers, distributors and art gallery owners place on my work. I just accept the label and these labels become tools I can use to talk with that distributor. For example I now can say to Storyberries “Here’s a new ABC123 Poetry book from me”.  But even with that new knowledge generally my attitude when I’m working in my studio is “I’ll make the stuff and you can sort it out” rather than getting stuck on any of the potential labels while I’m in the creative process. Anyway, here’s a note on this topic that I have thumbtacked to my art studio wall.

The meaningfulness that is found after the creation is finished also has an element of danger. Sometimes because an artist is so tired upon completion they, in their fatigue, misjudge their own work and may mislabel it or even destroy it. Sometimes an artist gets stuck on a label and that impedes their progress. Sometimes the selected audience isn’t ready for a creative work and rejects it. Sometimes a work isn’t found to be meaningful until long after the artist and audience’s current era is gone and a new era begins. Sometimes a different audience within an artist’s lifetime finds the work more meaningful. Sometimes meanings and labels change over time too. Sometimes these new labels are helpful and sometimes they’re not.

So for all of those reasons I find it’s best to avoid gaslighting myself, i.e. making hard declarative statements about my work, either as I’m working on projects or whenever they’re finished. I just enjoy the process of making things. Other people can sort them into meanings and categories. That said, I do find the effort of succinctly summarizing my own creative works as a logline etc helpful as long as I don’t take it too seriously. Whatever you want to call it is fine with me as long as my personal foxes get to play and my hedgehogs stay cute.

Hedgehog in Shade – art print- by Clancy https://society6.com/product/hedgehog-in-shade7281858_print?sku=s6-24823546p4a1v45

Which brings me to book banning. I despise censorship because someone somewhere has decided in advance what a book or work of art “means” and they aren’t willing to let people decide that for themselves. They get rigid, in a hedgehog-y prickly defensive ball way, about everything fitting into their one big thing label whether that label is political or religious. They can’t, or won’t, deal with the foxes free ranging exploration. They’re allergic to questions  and uncertainty. They reject categorically the concept of changes over time. They’ll decide they just don’t like one particular fox or hedgehog and insist that the external world must conform to their preferences.

Creativity is all about questions and dealing well with uncertainty. To be creative is to actively participate in change and growth. Creativity is a response to the world. Anyway, here’s an article about many of the current censorship efforts that I keep a careful eye on.

In my current art exhibit at the Aurora Gallery on the upper left shelf in the photo below is an artist book I made which tells a truth about rabbits and metaphorically about people. It’s called “The Rabbit” and it is about book banning.

You can see my original artwork in person at the Aurora Gallery www.auroragalleryonline.com or still photos of the exhibit and the entire book “The Rabbit” online here. https://sueclancy.com/portfolio/for-you-by-sue-the-abcs-art-books-cards/

There’s also a video look through the illustrated poem artist book here https://youtu.be/6-T5zi-fLvM
on my YouTube channel. Below are a few still photos.

Speaking further of free expression I avidly watched the recent Stand with Salman Rushdie event. It did my author/artist heart good to see so many people so supportive of authors and the literary life!!
https://lithub.com/famous-writers-will-stand-with-salman-rushdie-on-the-steps-of-the-nypl-this-friday/

I also participated from home by posting this:
I #standwithsalman in favor of free expression. For the Aug 19 2022 @PENamerica event I’m reading from “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” by @SalmanRushdie – it’s one of my favorites – Here’s my reading on YouTube.

There now that I’ve finished this blog post I’ll deliberately avoid the one-big-thing type question of “did my efforts to write this blog post mean anything or matter in any way to the larger literary or creative culture?”. In such a question lies gaslighting madness.  So instead of going there I accept that I enjoyed writing out my views of the creative process within the context of hedgehogs, foxes and the essay by Isaiah Berlin. And I hope my friend Liz will enjoy reading my thoughts on how hedgehogs and foxes relate to the literary world. There, that’s enough mattering and meaning for me.

Aha, now after rereading what I’ve written (and correcting the autocorrect 🙄) I see that there’s a few category and tag labels that I can use when publishing this blog post! Good enough…

I hope your creative week is full of playful foxes and hedgehogs. See you next Monday.

Sweet peppers, prose, poetry and pens

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art supplies, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, ebook, illustrated poem, Patch La Belle, poetry, publications - publishing, reading, sketchbook, Storyberries, words and pictures, writing, writing and illustrating

My spouse’s sweet pepper plants are doing well in the heat! I stuffed the just picked peppers with cheese and roasted them with black beans, corn, zucchini and red onion. Tasted yummy!

The heat inspired me, as I’ve illustrated recently with a drawing demo, to stay in a cool place and finish reading a wonderful novel.

A Gentleman In Moscow by Towles was so good that when I finished reading I added it to my books-to-cheer-up-by shelf for rereading whenever I need a pick-me-up.

I got wonderful news from Storyberries this week – they’ve started a bookstore! (Here’s a direct link to some of my books https://www.bookstore.storyberries.com/product-tag/sue-clancy/  ) When I looked at the new store I discovered that of the 18 books by me on Storyberries 12 of my titles are spread between 3 categories: art books, poetry, ABC123!! What a fun surprise!!

When someone clicks on a bookstore link the viewer can sample the book, read about the book, click a button to read the book for free and now there’s an option to buy a print copy too! Below is a screenshot example of what it looks like, this is a screenshot and not operational, click this link if you want lights and action about my poetry book below.

Since we’re just having fun today here’s one of my illustrated poems from Patch La Belle so you can see how I’ve hand written all of the poem text for the book. I wrote with a felt tip pen. I went through lots of felt tip pens while working on this book. I already had a fountain pen so I was missing the ability to refill a pen but the fountain pen nib I had at the time of this project wasn’t bold enough. (This is how I knew what to request as a birthday gift! 😁 ) Anyway, here’s a poem.

This week the rest of my birthday present came in to our local pen and stationary store Oblation Papers and Press ! The extra fine nib fountain pen that I got the actual day of my birthday is now joined by a broad nib and a stub nib!

I love fountain pens for the ease of use that a good quality pen, like these TWSBI kind. They write and draw super smoothly have a built in converter which allows me to fill them with my preferred ink (Heart of Darkness by Noodlers Ink). Now there’s even fewer plastic bits of disposable felt tip pens to go into a land fill from my studio!

Right away I practiced writing an alphabet and drawing with each pen.

Here’s a single drawing I did with all 3 fountain pens. Yes, I totally see more handwritten illustrated poetry books in my future!

Over on my email newsletter A.M. Sketching I shared my favorite book about fountain pens and I’m sharing it here too just in case you’re curious.

To test how my new pens write over my gouache colors I wrote a poetic kind of phrase on a scrap of paper.

Then I painted an Earth in Space inspired by the “plaid” striations in my breakfast orange.

When the painting was dry I wrote my phrase as neatly as I could.

So you can see the page better…

…it worked fairly well! So, yes, I’ll definitely be doing more illustrated poetry!

The above mentioned novel by Towles is a hard act to follow but here’s what I’m reading and enjoying now. I’m thinking there may be some drawings of foxes and hedgehogs soon.

I also made some progress this week on a new painting for an upcoming fine art exhibit, there’s my current art exhibit to promote, there progress I could share on a new ABC123 category book (I have a category! Wahoo!! 🙌❤) but it’s early days in these projects and I’m tired of typing now.

I hope your week is sweetly filled with peppers, prose, poetry and pens just as you like them. See you next Monday.

Hot times, cold tea, teaching and learning

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, fine art, humor in art, life of the mind, teaching, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

I’ve been thinking about the process of teaching and learning lately as I plan upcoming drawing tutorials for Nil-tech. I don’t think I’m an authority on drawing. I’m just fascinated by the subject and have done drawings almost daily for a really long time. It seems that there’s interest in me showing more of how I draw. So as I wrote in my last post I’m planning how to do that in simple, no-fuss, ways. Nil-tech has an online library of drawing tutorials and that’s where I’ll be adding my tutorials. I’ll also share them on my social media. If someone buys an art supply kit from my link I’ll get a small, but appreciated, royalty. We’ll see how this project goes … please wish me luck.

More than a decade ago I used to teach art in person in Oklahoma. For a number of years I even designed hands-on art exhibits for children and created teaching curriculums for a staff of teachers to teach from. Fun times except for experiencing the right-wing political opposition in Oklahoma to teachers teaching art (or even teaching reading and writing) and the general objections to the “intellectual eliteism” supposedly evident at any and all art exhibits and literary events. Suffice it to say that I can empathize all too well with teachers (plus librarians, booksellers, writers and artists) who are currently on the recieving end of right-wing anti-intellectual ire.

Yes, I have a bit of PTSD from my time in Oklahoma. There were some nice people there who were supportive of education and the arts in general – people I’m glad to know, people I’m still in touch with – but hooey the PTSD is real. And meanness selfjustified by anti-intellectualism still sucks.

Anyway, imagine my delight when, mere months after we had moved (12 years ago) to the West Coast, during my first in person art opening in Oregon, I was respectfully asked about my usage of metaphors in my work! After replying to the question I hurried to find my wife and, grinning from ear to ear, exclaimed excitedly “They used the M word!!!”

So, I keep reminding myself that as I contemplate a new art teaching opportunity that I’m not, emphatically not, in Oklahoma any more!

That’s why last Friday on A. M. Sketching I included a monument to teaching and learning.

On a lighter note: here’s a touching tribute to a UK music and dance teacher. https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/lifestyle-buzz/bride-thinks-its-time-for-wedding-vows-when-groom-says-to-look-at-guests-on-the-balcony/ar-AA106rYX

My art exhibit “For You by Sue the ABC’S: Art, Books and Cards” has been delivered to the Aurora Gallery! The exhibit officially opens August 5th. I’ve been updating the portfolio page about the exhibit and, for the fun in it, included all pages of my book “Coffee Please”. Coffee Please is an amalgamation from the sketchbooks I’d kept during our pre-pandemic travels. I looked in my sketchbook for all the times I recorded requesting coffee; what was said and the type of cup I was given. You can see part of this artist book at the bottom of the photo below and you can see the entire book page by page, in my portfolio here.

Apropos of nothing here’s some of the flowers from our garden.

And here are some books I’m reading because both of these humorists maintained their humor during difficult times. Robert Benchley (b. 1889 – d.1945) lived through WW1, the Spanish Flu and the Great Depression. P. G. Wodehouse (b. 1881 – d.1975) lived through the same events as Benchley plus WW2 – he was even held prisoner by the Germans – and lived through many other world events in his long life. Both continued to write – and be gently humorous – all of their lives.

Resilience and creativity seem to correlate. I find it comforting and encouraging to learn how other artists made it through hard times and maintained their creativity and sense of humor.

It’s been hot this week so the studio supervisor and I have made sun tea by the gallon…

… the sun brewed tea is added to a large lump of ice in glasses. The chilling tea glass is kept on a coaster covered with a bit of paper towel so that drips of condensation don’t fall onto books. Mustn’t drip on the books. Nope, mustn’t…

As Kurt Vonnegut (another artist who turned hard times into fodder for creativity) often said “and so it goes”.

Hope your favorite beverages are just the way you like them this week. See you next Monday.

Mom, Odditerrarium, A.M. Sketching and rulings IRL

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, fine art, Odditerrarium, publications - publishing, sketchbook, writing and illustrating

My adopted Mom has passed and is no longer in pain. I wrote in a prior post about her illness. For more than 20 years and before JL and I moved to Washington 12 years ago, Mom and I met for lunch at least once a month sometimes more. Lunch was either at a restaurant or at her house. After Dad and then JL retired they joined us for our lunches. During every lunch I ever had with Mom she had Pinot Grigio. Mom liked flowers and often had carefully curated displays of them in a vase somewhere in her house. She commented on them in the restaurants. Dad had what Mom called “flower blindness” he just didn’t notice the flowers. Lay a book somewhere and he saw it immediately – but new flower arrangements flew above his radar. So I did my best to notice and say something about Mom’s flowers. What I learned and the love I got from Mom would fill a galaxy and could start a new one.

Before getting the news about Mom I had begun working on this blog as follows below. Because my head isn’t here right now I’m leaving this blog unedited as it was in draft form typos, raw text, unended sentences, no links and all… I’ll be back again next week. If ever anyone taught good coping skills it was my Mom. Anyway here’s what I’d planned to share…

I delivered 3 new works to Burnt Bridge Cellars and Kim put them up after Amy from Caplan Art Designs took the sold ones down to be sent to their new homes.

BLAHBLAH about the visit

Close ups of the newest ones, titles etc

After the delivery I worked on the digital files of Ant Hology for Storyberries and sent those in. Photos and such will come later.

I also changed the name of my email newsletter from Clancy’s Coffee with the Green Dragon to “A.M. Sketching”. It’s less of a mouthful and more directly to the point. https://sueclancy.substack.com/

Below is one of the sketchbok pages I shared via A.M. Sketching- I really leaned this week on my alphabetical list of things I enjoy and am still working on the list. So more on this later.

The bulk of the week was busy and stressful so the only work I got done towards the newest childrensbook is some sketchbook drawings of bears bicycling.

I found the Supreme Court decisions stressful. If anyone thinks the ruling about Roe v Wade and the probable striking birthcontrol only affects young women – in 2018 my middle aged lady parts went haywire and an IUD basically saved my life. All of the artwork I’ve created since then is thanks to the availability of women’s healthcare. So after the ruling today I keep thinking about what might have happened to me if the current Supreme Court ruling had been in place and I had lived in a red state in 2018.
I might not have lived. I might not have been here to be photographed working in my artstudio on a hedgehog

The next morning I drew this in my sketchbook and we donated to several orgs including After Roe: Help protect choice everywhere — Donate via ActBlue
https://secure.actblue.com/donate/after-roe

I’ve been happily having coffee with my sweetie every morning for 26 plus years and I plan to continue no matter what. We’ve both fought for womensrights and for gay rights and we will keep doing that too.
Damnit I’m sad, upset and angry about the current Supreme Court rulings and the likelihood of the anti birth control and anti gay rulings to come. I go into action when upset … BTW I consider all forms of creativity practical actions. Maintaining our humanity is direct action. Hang on to your heart, your mind and love wins.

Below are our favorite morning mugs. I had a time in my creative life when I did ceramics.

Here’s a post I saw that resonated

Anyway, becaus we can’t really live in rage let us now go to our happy places … the bookshelves in our living room are one of my favorite places s. Sometimes I like to just look at the shelves and what’s on them.

Please hang on to your heart and be gentle with yourself and each other this week as we all gear up for a fight for basic human rights.

See you next Monday.