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/

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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 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)

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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:

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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

art of onions chopped

A Creative Life, Art Licensing, art techniques, artistic inspirations, commonplace book, drawing as thinking, food for thought, illustration, Not-So-Sketchy-Food, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, visual story, words and pictures

I finished the artwork I was working on in my last blog post! https://sueclancy.com/2017/04/06/art-of-the-onion/ and then I applied the illustration to some things… a framed print, greeting cards and other items you can find here: https://society6.com/sueclancy

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https://society6.com/sueclancy

art of the onion

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, commonplace book, drawing as thinking, illustration, Not-So-Sketchy-Food, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, visual story, words and pictures

About a month ago now Sweetie and I took a cooking class (www.class-cooking.com) as a “date night out”. It was fun and as usual when I do something fun I made notes in my sketchbook. Here is one of the sketchbook pages I did during cooking class with Chef Kim Mahan.

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Then I got very busy with fine art commissions and etc. freelance projects – and life.

But every time I’d cut an onion when cooking supper I’d think about our class and the valuable instructions I’d gotten about onions. Since for me drawing is thinking – I ached to draw onions and the chef’s “how to chop onions” instructions so as to think about and “visualize” them.  So for several weeks now when I’ve had a spare 5 or 10 minutes I’d look at my sketchbook pages and brain-storm about what I wanted to create. After a brain-storm option had been settled upon I spent my spare 5 or 10 minutes drawing and writing in pencil on a larger sheet of Bristol paper the onion art/illustration I’d brain-stormed about. Some days I only erased pencil lines that didn’t work. Other days I re-drew pencil lines. After the pencil lines were settled in my spare few moments I’d do an ink line or two…

We’re talking quick-quick drawing work on the “onion art” then I’d go on with my day-job art projects. Every day though I did something in my spare 5 to 10 minutes to inch the onion art along.

Then today I had 20 whole minutes in a row to spare! Wahoo!! And the pencil work was done and I even had a few ink lines done – so I grabbed my ink pens, watercolors and color pencils…

Here’s what I’ve done today – as it is on my work table – I’ve a bit more work to do but it’s almost finished!

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