On being at home and eating well

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art techniques, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, Authors, books, business of art, comfort food, drinks in art, fine art, food in art, functional art, illustrated recipe, illustration, kitchen art, life of the mind, publications - publishing, published art, recipe illustration, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, story, Uncategorized, visual story, words and pictures

In times like these we need to do what kindnesses we can for each other so I’ve decided to release my kitchen sketchbook earlier than planned. The title of this new artist book is Favorites So Far – a kitchen sketchbook. Details follow.

I spend most of my time working at home. Now, with coronavirus, more people, especially here in Washington state, are too. Welcome to my world. There’s lots of work but also books, good meals, drinks and snacks.

So perhaps it will be kind to go ahead and share more of how cooking at home fits with my working at home life? Hope so…

I was going to wait until just before my one-person art exhibit in June 2020 to officially debut this memoir cookbook, Favorites So Far, as many of the recipes relate to my artwork. I’ve been dribbling out teaser recipes on my Instagram page especially as they relate to the artwork as I finish the art. My original intention was to build momentum toward my June exhibit, display the artwork at the physical exhibit and have this 48 page sketchbook, itself intended as artwork, available as an accessory to the exhibit. You know, big splash.

But to heck with that. It seems kinder to share this book right now because people gotta eat.

Technically this book, Favorites So Far, is a printed 48 page memoir sketchbook – with my sketches on every page. That a meal could be made from it was just bonus. It’s suposed to be autobiographical amusement. But it really is a practical book, we refer to it for our own meals regularly.

Here’s a photo of the front and back covers of the printed book Favorites So Far:

Recently my co-author, Judy Sullens, and I got to talking: in the best of times what to cook/eat is a question. Door Dash and other innovative food delivery services are super helpful – but people suddenly being at home more… perhaps they’ll find it helpful to hear how a couple of busy creatives who’re not always flush with cash, not always remembering to get stuff at the store, how do they fill their belly’s?

So we decided to release the book now rather than wait. This link to the full color printed book has the entire book as a preview – and you can purchase it there too. https://www.blurb.com/b/9759759-favorites-so-far

The book is set up to be printed, 48 pages, full color, landscape format to showcase the artwork. And, since we’re not waiting to do a big splash at the exhibit, we’ve now set it up so the printed book can be shipped directly to you from the printer.

Perhaps even more helpfully we’ve set it up as an immediately downloadable ebook viewable on any device: Google Android devices, Kindle etc. It’s still 48 pages, full color with all the artwork. You can get the ebook version here. https://www.blurb.com/ebooks/709744-favorites-so-far (preview first 15 pgs)

Speaking of previews here’s some of the pages:

The title page
Book info page…. see, drawings on all pages!
Introduction page…how this book came to be.

And here are a few of the inner pages so you can see the memoir attributes.

More generally how I handle being a busy artist while not starving: after breakfast, before getting to work in my studio, I cut up veg and etc ingredients and throw them in a pot to slow cook until lunchtime. I work for several hours in my studio, take a short break to stir the pot. Back to work for another hour or so. Then lunch!

This is a pic of my sketchbook that Favorites So Far is a reproduction of – and a pot of just assembled stew:

And, yes, since it’s so near to St. Patrick’s Day I couldn’t resist posting this Irish stew recipe!

Oh, and we showed this sketchbook to a chef friend who said “I love it that a third of the book is cocktails!”

Hope you enjoy this book and that you eat well.

Way of all fresh food

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, Books In Art, cat portrait, Cats in art, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, food in art, kitchen art, life of the mind, reading in art, story, visual story

I’ve been working on a large painting and posted a pic of me at work on my Instagram page. A friend asked me to explain my symbolism when I finished it …so here goes:

First the painting. It’s titled “The Way Of All Fresh (Food)“. The size is 36 by 24 inches and I used ink, gouache and color pencil to make it.

The Way Of All Fresh (Food) – by Clancy

As evidenced by recent posts of my sketchbook pages I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the life of the mind. I’ve also been reading classic fiction on the topic: “Stoner” by John Williams, “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin and “The Way Of All Flesh” by Samuel Butler.

When creating fine art I like to use symbolism that originates in literature and mythology as a way to orient myself in order to create a visual story.

In this case Butler’s novel had me thinking, as I read, of the ways mental development, new learning – like love – can sneak up on us, and yet it’s something that we process daily. The challenges and necessity of purposefully participating in one’s own mental life dominated my thoughts – especially after I finished reading Butler. I thought of how the maintenance of one’s mind is similar to the maintenance of one’s physical body.

With that as a bare bones thesis I sought, and selected from literary history, symbols with which to construct my visual story:

Lizards represent inner life, taking time to reflect. (I also remembered a quote from the children’s book author Madeleine L’Engle “Love is a funny thing, shaped like a lizard, that runs up and down and tickles your gizzard.”)

Celery, in Ancient Greek writings, represents victory and a warding off of evil spirits. Parts of the celery plants were woven into garlands, crowns, and given to the winner of sporting events. They were also woven into funeral wreaths.

Parsley stands for useful knowledge, joy and feasting. (Practical stuff of life.)

Apples have a long literary history signaling love, knowledge, self-awareness, attainable joys….all elements of life that have been, in some stories, forbidden or used to trick (think Snow White and the 7 dwarves). So I see an element of good critical thinking skill development in an apple but I digress.

Bulldog represents tenacity, courage, willingness to do the right thing.

Cat represents curiosity.

In addition to playing with symbols I’ve also hidden what’s known in the movie and gaming industries as “easter eggs“. Some of the eggs I hid are:

The cat portrait in this painting is a spoof of my own artwork, i.e. there exists an artwork by me that’s similar to this painting within the painting. (There’s also a jigsaw puzzle I designed with this cat artwork.)

I’ve waved “hello” to many of my friends – the kitchen furniture waves to my interior decorator, visionary friend, Carolyn. The cutting board high-fives Kevin, a friend who’s a talented woodworker. The lizards are a shared giggle with my friend Kim. The socks are a howdy to Frank and Elaine. The purple shirt is there because of Beverly, Kris H and Erica M. The book and the heart-art are for my spouse – as always.

Since the lizards represent time to reflect I’ve included a clock near the heart and brain artwork with a special time on it. Most days by 10:40 a.m. I have spent time writing and drawing in my sketchbook. One of my methods to cultivate my own inner life. (And yes, I post these sketchbook pages on Instagram and make artist books from them. You can see some of the books here.)

Oh, almost forgot, there’s a yummy celery, apple and parsley salad recipe that goes with this painting too.

There now. I’ve told most, but not all, of the punchlines. Enjoy!

feature article in The Columbian about my art

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, Artist interviews and profiles, fine art, public art, published art, visual story, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

Here’s a link to an article written by Scott Hewitt for The Columbian about my art exhibit “Dear Readers” that is currently at Burnt Bridge Cellars! And a picture of the front page of the newspaper with a bit of my artwork on it and pictures of the other 2 pages.  I was relieved to see that my artwork reproduced so well in print. Even though by now I know very well how to create images for reproduction I still breathe a sigh of relief when I see them looking good in glorious color print. Anyway, here’s the newspaper link all spelled out: https://www.columbian.com/news/2019/jul/18/vancouver-artists-ties-together-dogs-books-in-whimsical-ways/

DearReadersColumbianArticleP1A

Both gouache paints and acrylic paints reproduce well (even in newsprint!) but to my eye the gouache reproduces best of all. But then gouache was originally created for use in illuminating manuscripts back in the days, around the 16th century, when all “books” were hand written, hand illustrated and hand bound – one at a time.

Acrylic, a medium that originated in the late 1940’s, tends to be shinier and more difficult to photograph and thus get a good reproduction quality image.

Have I mentioned lately that I really like gouache??

illustrated poetry about food

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, creative thinking, Dogs in Art, illustrated poem, illustrated shorts, illustration, poetry, published art, Sustainable creativity, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

Last weekend I spent some time looking through my cookbook collection which sits on the shelves next to my poetry collection. Since I’ve been practicing both cooking and writing I look to my favorite “masters” in each genre for inspiration. It’s nice to have them all in one spot.  Mollie Katzen, Aliza Green, Rick Bayless and Maryana Vollstedt are some of my favorite masters from the cooking world.  Edward Gorey, Edward Lear, Ogden Nash and Shel Silverstein are some favorites from the poetry world.

I spent the most “looking-for-a-recipe-to-cook” time with Vollstedt’s cookbook “The Big Book Of Soups And Stews” as it was a cold weekend. Plus a hearty stew puts me in a happy “comfort food feast” frame of mind. But the most “just admiring a cook book” time was spent with Katzen. However I did use one of Katzen’s salad recipes to go alongside a stew. I love the way Katzen hand lettered her recipes and illustrated them in her “Moosewood Cookbook”.  My poetry time was divided between Edward Gorey and Edward Lear.

This concept of mashing up wildly different genres as inspiration to make something new? Well Austin Kleon has written wonderful creative thinking technique books about that – specifically Steal Like An Artist!

Anyway I combined my big pot of stew thoughts with the limerick poem form for this poem I wrote and illustrated below – which has been published now on They Draw & Cook.

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For the cooks plentitude – by Clancy https://www.theydrawandcook.com/artists/sue-clancy

I’m still practicing combining India ink and gouache – and doing text with a brush.  I used a smaller size brush this time for the type – and all lower case letters.  This brush-and-ink type style felt looser, more relaxed, than the type I did with a fountain pen for the birthday card – though both projects use a similar lower case.  I like both methodologies and will probably use both techniques as they fit with the project at hand. But this brush style… I’m liking it and am finding my hand reaching for a brush more often.

What do you think?

art snacks

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, business of art, creative thinking, food for thought, mental health, small things, Sustainable creativity, words and pictures

Some time back I read an article in my local newspaper about teaching kids to snack healthy and to learn to trust their body’s cues about food. Since then I’ve been thinking of similarities between healthy snacking habits and developing a healthy creative life.

  1. Teach yourself how to recognize aesthetic cues/desires – and practice responding to them – over time. I think of aesthetic cues as mental indulge-ments; things like stories, poems, movies, music, art etc. that make you feel glad to be alive. Just like a kid has to learn how to try new foods and then practice recognizing what foods they enjoy eating.  As we go through life our aesthetic preferences change – just like our food preferences do. So it’s helpful to continue to try new aesthetic/art snacks periodically – and practice trusting your own cues.
  2. Allow yourself to listen to your own aesthetic cues/voice without input from other people. This takes practice and no matter how experienced a person is one has to remember to return to listening to one’s own voice – rather like how sometimes a kid (or an adult) has to be reminded to pay attention to their plate and eat.  (When my wife and I go to happy hour with our friends I have to remind myself to eat…I tend to focus on the conversation…)
  3. Give yourself permission to just practice. Practice-an-art-materials can be as simple as  keeping a book of stories or poems handy for reading and a small book to write in. Think of it as adult playing. Some helpful mantras: “Nothing has to go right today”, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first.” and “It’s okay to make mistakes and messes – it’s part of how we learn.”
  4. Set specific times to practice. These can be very short bursts of time. They can be event/circumstance based rather than clock based. i.e. I’ll practice reading/writing poems while the coffee/tea brews, the water boils or the oven pre-heats.
  5. Create a small place/drawer where your practice-an-art materials are kept handy. Perhaps a shelf where books related to your art snack indulge-ments are stored. Look for and collect objects, events, places that feed your creative-soul-heart-mind. Stay close to anything that makes you glad to be alive. Plan to indulge in these things in small ways – daily.
  6. Set a habit (I hate the word “rule”) for what time per month you’ll indulge yourself – for an aesthetic “meal”, something more than a short snack – with someone else’s artwork: i.e. go to local art-openings, poetry/story slams, indie film nights, music jam nights or a visit to an art museum.

Here’s what I indulged myself with this morning as an art snack while my breakfast bread toasted:

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The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W. B. Yeats is a new-favorite poem. It reminds me that we can – and do – create our own solace.

Thanksgiving and The Arts

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, business of art, creative thinking, functional art, kitchen art, music in art, Sustainable creativity, visual story, words and pictures

I remember being told, as a young person, that the arts were “not practical”. Today I thought of 8 ways, both serious and silly, that the arts are useful on Thanksgiving day.

  1. Culinary arts: Making food is considered one of the “fine arts”. Even if the kitchen looks like this: Funny Cooking Fails Compilation | AFV Funniest Videos 2018
  2. Sculptural arts: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Costumes are made by artists in the Macy’s Parade Studio .  Over 50 million people had the parade on the TV during their 2017 family holiday. A link for watching the Macy’s Parade in 2018 is here.  An on the parade topic, even though it’s film animation, here’s a Cat Parade.
  3. Musical arts: A background music playlist of “20 best Thanksgiving” songs here. And then there’s a funny video of when Dad sings…. Lol!
  4. Visual Arts: Arts and crafts projects to entertain the kids while the adults drink, I mean cook.  Here’s a video of some cute kids who had lots of fun with an art project until…oops!
  5. Arts and craft mess clean up techniques (aka Art School 101) outlined here. Btw: I’ve successfully used rubbing alcohol to get marker ink off of wood surfaces and crayon marks off walls. And in this video an adorable kid has Art School 101 down… too cute!
  6. Photographic arts: Here’s some real tips for taking family photos. And here’s some funny dog photos.
  7. Story arts: Serious tips for telling stories here and here. And then there’s a funny video of Grandpa telling a story… here. But Grandma decided to tell her story using the medium of dance… lets watch!
  8. Decorative arts: Here is a silly video of a dachshund decorating … But more seriously Spoonflower is one of my favorite sites for artist-created materials for things such as napkins and table cloths. Below is a photo of a table runner I designed. It looks good with some candles or a wooden bowl with fruit or nuts as a centerpiece. I also think it’d be fun visual joke to put tiny clean, cute birdhouses… and/or some small woven baskets with candy eggs in them, as centerpieces on my “autumn leaf” table runner.  But then I’m warped like that.

Anyway if anyone ever tells you that the Arts are not practical – don’t believe them.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

It was adventurous but the cookbook is here

A Creative Life, artist book, ebook, illustration, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, kitchen art, visual story

When I last wrote I was waiting impatiently for the short-print-run of the unconventional cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” to get here. That was just the beginning.

It was Thanksgiving weekend, a cold rainy night, and Sweetie and I were on our way out the door to a party. We’d just opened the door to leave and there stood the delivery guy with a huge box. A big brown truck was parked at the curb. He plunked the box down and left in a hurry. The box was partly open, with stuff spilling out, and because of  that Sweetie and I struggled to get it in out of the rain.

The box looked like this.

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Fortunately the company I used for the book printing double boxes things. Even so. The inner boxes looked like this.

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Hurriedly I looked inside the box to see if things were still useable. They appeared to be. I breathed a sigh of relief. We flung ourselves in the car. I was texting the Chef about the arrival as we backed out of our driveway and we made it to the party only 10 minutes late.

After our party I looked more closely at our cookbook elements – and things really did seem okay. I was relieved.

The next day Sweetie and I gathered all the cookbook production elements and we went to Chef Kim’s place where, along with Chef Kim’s spouse, Dearest, we sorted and put together 90 cookbooks.

Here is Chef Kim deciding the order of things.

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Here’s a look at a few of the recipe cards spread out so you can see them.

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There are 15 recipes total and they were slipped into a vellum envelope with a sticker-label on the front and back to serve as the “title” and “back-matter”.  In the process of putting the title labels on we discovered that we only had half of our label order. Oh no!

Panic! I said lots of things like “Sh#$” and “Da#@ it!”

Chef Kim looked at my Sweetie and said, with a grin, “I didn’t know she knew Blue Words like this.”

Sweetie replied “In certain situations she can be fluent.”

We speculated that the labels must have slid out of the gaping hole in the box. I got myself together. We finished sorting all of the books and put labels on what books we could.  Back at my studio I immediately contacted the printing company. Long story short – they are replacing what was missing and all is right with my cookbook-production world.

Here’s the 3 of us in the middle of hand-sorting the cookbook. (Dearest took the photo)

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Here’s a stack of cookbooks that are ready to go!

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This coming Saturday Chef Kim Mahan and I will be signing copies of “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” at Burnt Bridge Cellars in Vancouver WA.  It’ll be fun for me to see how people react!

Here’s a look at the front and the back of the cookbook so you can see the labels on the vellum envelopes with the recipe cards inside.

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And here is access to an ebook version (best viewed on a tablet or laptop) of this same cookbook: https://www.patreon.com/posts/ebook-version-of-15599644

 

unconventional cookbook progress

A Creative Life, artistic inspirations, business of art, functional art, illustration, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, kitchen art, published art, Sustainable creativity, words and pictures

We are nearing the dessert stage of the unconventional cookbook “Kim Cooks Sue Draws”; meaning that all of the recipes have been illustrated, a short-cookbook-run has been sent to the printers and we’re waiting for delivery. I’m a mite nervous that it will arrive okay, that the printing will look good, that Chef Kim will be happy with it… but all I can do at this point is breathe and hope. 

Both Chef Kim Mahan and I have shown the work-in-progress to friends and each of us have heard that people enjoy the “playful and practical” qualities of it, that it’s not intimidating like some cookbooks can be, that it makes people want to cook. So overall I’m hopeful for the reception of this artist book and that it will be a useful helpful thing for Chef Kim to have in her classroom and available on her website http://www.class-cooking.com for her far-flung fans.

Personally I feel good about the artwork I’ve done and I feel that this project concept fits well with my general artistic thoughts (I dislike the word “mission”): that artwork can be both playful and practical, that “fine art” can be helpful to living life well, that the ability to cook is an essential survival skill for artists and other creative people.

Anyway, our “dessert stage” progress also means that all of the  unconventional cookbook recipe illustrations are now available as art prints and greeting cards and can be seen here: https://society6.com/sueclancy/collection/unconventional-cookbook

I know the prints and cards look good. I’ve seen them in person.

The short-cookbook-print run (the delivery I’m waiting somewhat impatiently for and slightly worrying over) that will be sold as a full “cookbook”, is a collection of 15 recipes,  as single cards that will be slipped into one envelope with these labels on the outside:

When we get the print run then Chef Kim and I will sort the books by hand and we’ll probably ask our loving, tolerant, patient and wonderful spouses to help us. There’s only 90 of the books on this first print run so we’ll be able to quickly to get them ready for an event the Chef is doing.  Some of the cookbooks will also be available via the Chef’s website www.class-cooking.com – and I’ll put a link here too when the books are ready.

As you may know from my previous posts this cookbook is not a traditional bound along one edge kind of book – it’s a collection of recipe cards; you can put one of the recipe cards under a magnet on the fridge while cooking from it, you could loan one to a friend, you can frame a recipe-card as “kitchen art” or mail one via snail mail. (This book design is also why the cards will need the hand-sorting mentioned above.)

My hope is also that people will smile and laugh when they see some of the recipe illustrations, that they will collect them and display them for a continued boost of humor.  I really like laughter and firmly believe that laughter belongs in kitchens and dining rooms.

Here is a link to a post from the “appetizer days” of this project – which describes more about my ideas and intentions behind this project: https://sueclancy.com/2017/10/18/an-unconventional-cookbook-artist-book/

I’ll let you know when the delivery finally happens and I’m breathing easier….

an unconventional cookbook artist book

A Creative Life, Art Licensing, artist book, artistic inspirations, comfort food, creative thinking, food for thought, functional art, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, kitchen art

Followers of my artwork already know that I like to play with the book format. Does a book always have to be bound on one edge? I don’t think so. It also doesn’t have to be conventional-book-shaped. With this in mind I’m working with Chef Kim Mahan (www.class-cooking.com) to create an unconventional cookbook titled “Kim Cooks Sue Draws”.  More details here:  https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/

Here’s the logo-label I drew using ink and color pencil. (and yes, this is a caricature of the Chef Kim and me)

KImCooksSueDrawsLable72

Our book is not, and will not be, conventionally bound. In fact it might not be called a “book” by some people because it has recipes as tea towels, art prints and greeting cards.  Eventually individual recipe-cards will be available (curated by the Chef for particular purposes) for home cooks to use on clipboards or under refrigerator magnets.

Though “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” is not bound along a spine it is a collection of related thoughts connected together in an obvious way. Which, in my opinion, is what a “book” really is.

So “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” is another artist book from me – and I’m lucky that Chef Kim is willing to play with me in this unconventional way. We both see this “book” as a set of playful yet practical artworks that you can use at home to cook, eat and share with people you love.

If this cookbook is to be considered “bound” in any way it would be on this website https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/  – I use the word “bound” here to signify “collected together in one spot”.  I’m sure the Chef will have additional places to put “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” both online and in her classroom.

The Chef and I are in the appetizer-days of this project and we have a full multi-course menu of plans… oh boy do we have plans! Please stay seated at the table… more yummy to come!

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

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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