Unwearied fancie, the flowers, the books and the stew

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, comfort food, creative thinking, fine art, gift books, hopepunk, household surrealism, mental health, Odditerrarium, published art, recipe illustration, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, writing and illustrating

Unlike ball obsessed dogs I get tired and need a break even from my most favorite activity in the world: making art. In my last post I talked of finishing most of the prep for my upcoming Odditerrarium exhibit a week or so early in order to give myself time to rest and recharge before the exhibit opens at Burnt Bridge Cellars via Caplan Art Designs.

Here’s one of my portraits for the exhibit titled “Unwearied Fancie”. It, like the others, is 10 x 8 inches created with ink, gouache and collage on board.

And here’s a closer look at what this dog is obsessed by er um I mean thinking about.

This week the massacre in Uvalde Texas happened. I’m so very tired of unnecessary deaths. I’m bone weary of gun violence. Generally I keep my comments about current events off of this blog but I’m very upset about all of the unnecessary deaths due to one word said by one political party in the U.S. One morning I grabbed a scrap of paper and wrote…

So more than just my hand and arm felt a need for rest this week…

Anyway, all of the frames have been filled with artwork now. Here’s some photos of just-framed works still on my work bench.

My dachshund has a bed near my work area. (See the photo below). As I finished framing the last painting I imagined…

“Is that number 20?” Asked my dachshund art studio supervisor.

“Yes! All 20 of the Odditerrarium series paintings are framed now!” I replied.

“Let’s order new artsupplies and then let’s go wander the yard, eat something, read books and rest.” says the dachshund.

“Great idea!” I said reaching for the phone to order new supplies.

I already have sketchbook notes (due to my almost daily sketchbook routine) and plans for other creative projects that I haven’t talked about on this blog – or anywhere on social media – because they’re in flux. But I know generally from these plans what art supplies I need to buy.

All of the Odditerrarium artwork is now packed in boxes ready to be delivered at the appropriate time. So it’s “all done except for the shouting” as I sometimes refer to the exhibit promotions. Tired ole me is very grateful to have help spreading the word about the exhibit from Burnt Bridge Cellars and the Caplan Art Designs gallery. I’m also beyond grateful to the fans of my work who share about it online. Your encouragement and support helps me a lot! Thank you!

The paperwork for the Odditerrarium exhibit has been done and already sent in to the gallery. I’ve also finished the webpage about the exhibit which includes images of all of the art and access to the printed artist book. As I get photos of the exhibit on the winery walls I’ll add them and other related things to my portfolio page. All of these things are my efforts to make sharing about my exhibit easier plus the portfolio page and the book make it possible for people to participate in my exhibit without coming in person to the winery.

My ultimate point is that you, my dear blog reader, besides seeing behind the scenes in my studio as I have worked towards this exhibit are also the first to see all of the Odditerrarium artwork together and have early access to the book!

I hope you like it! Here’s a few photos of the book…

Here’s the visit to the yard my supervisor dachshund and I talked about earlier. The Japanese Iris’s are blooming now and I really love the odd shapes of them! The other flowers in my wife’s garden are pretty too.

In my last post I told about our dishwasher troubles… this week a new one was installed! To celebrate having a dishwasher again I made one of our favorites and served the Coddle in the big mugs that are hard to handwash. Our new dishwasher did a great job!

Here are pictures of my art studio supervisors resting.

My reading stack this week: I finished Christopher Moore’s “Island of the Sequined Love Nun” and P. M. Carlson’s “Murder Misread”. Both of those transported me to a better frame of mind.

Being upset about current events also has me reaching back in history for a somewhat similar past era and the artistic responses to the issues of that time and how, these many years later, that turned out…

Now I’m reading Alan Watt’s “Zen and the Beat Way” alongside some of the Beat writers work in Ann Charters’s “The Portable Beat Reader”. (Here’s a good link about the history of the Beat generation aka hippies.) It occurs to me that many discussions of the 1960’s and 1970’s have focused on pooh-poohing the long hair, the beadwork, the lack of shoe wearing, the organic vegetable growing/eating habits instead of grappling with the ideas contained in the written works of that era. Many of that generation’s artist’s were responding artistically, critically, via literature, poetry, music, etc, to the Mccarthyism, the Vietnam war, the various conventional cultural cruelties of that time period. The conservatives, or squares as they were called in the 60’s, said “no” a lot back then too.

In reading about all of it I wonder is peace, love and understanding really so radical, so threatening that we must distract from those ideas by ridiculing the clothing and eating habits of those advocating kindness?

On the topic of 1960 era food: here’s a review of a book by Jonathan Kaufman titled “Hippie Food”. And here’s another article about the healthy food (brown rice, beans, organic whole foods etc) efforts that began back then. I’m now aware of very real kitchen table progress that has been made because of the ideas originating in the countercultural 1960’s, things we benefit from today such as more food safety, better quality, more wide spread availability of fresh vegetables and more diversity of vegetables and grains.

I have ordered another book, that hasn’t come yet, about the women writers, poets and artists of the Beat era. I’m impressed, by what I’m reading in the titles by Watts and the Charters, with how much work the women of that era did to expand the life possibilities for women living, working, cooking and being creative – things we benefit from today. (See also this tangentially related article) I look forward to reading more. It may be a cliche but we do indeed stand on the shoulders of giants. And I’m finding comfort and hope from what turned out to be the many Beat generation countercultural successes despite the frustration they felt in the 1960’s and 70’s.

As you can probably tell I spent more of my time just reading this week. I took a break from social media too. Here’s an article I read with ways to be aware of current events and still take care of your mental health. Here’s my sketchbook page where I gave myself permission…

I hope your week is as full of peace, love and understanding as you can make it. Please take carrot …

See you next Monday

Teacher, the creative path and seeing beauty

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, fine art, greeting cards, Odditerrarium, recipe illustration, sketchbook, Sustainable creativity, whimsical art

As I alluded in my last post life and art are correlated. In the comments Sherri said it’s like a braid. That’s certainly true for me; life, creative projects and self-care weave together. It’s not a work slash life balance so much as it is what can I do that makes both life and creativity sustainable and as fun as possible? Art and life can teach each other what they need when I’m listening to what makes me glad to be alive at that moment. The thumbtacked quote below is one of my favorites.

Here’s another painting in my Odditerrarium series titled “Teacher”. Like the others is is 10 x 8 inches and created using ink, gouache and collage on board. It will join the rest of the series for my upcoming exhibit at Burnt Bridge Cellars via the Caplan Art Designs Gallery.

A closer look at what this cat is thinking.

Here’s a short Reel on Instagram of me working on this cat portrait- https://www.instagram.com/reel/CdqmKrRphr6/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

I’ve been framing artwork almost every day like I mentioned last post in an adjustable rhythm of spray varnish two and frame two. Slowly but steadily I’m getting all 20 framed.

The back looks like this when I finish the framing and write the title of the painting on the backing paper in ink. Then I slip it into a protective sleeve and then into a box with its fellows.

Two of the 20 finished paintings are smaller at 7 x 5 inches but all of the rest are 10 x 8 inches.

At the end of the week I got the the rest of the frames I need from the Aurora Gallery! The new frames are outside the box and the box is full of artwork that’s already been framed. So if I keep this work rhythm going I will have all of the framing finished a week early before delivery. I like giving myself some time to relax before delivery day.

Breakfast one day this past week was lemon scones made by my wife! They were yummy! And here’s my sketchbook page that day.

This week besides my spray two frame two work routine also had a leaking dishwasher in it. We’ve ordered a new one. Then another morning we were having breakfast (not the scones) when suddenly the water heater beeped frantically. We frowned at it. Rusty our dachshund barked at it. We looked at the instruction book and at the app for our heater. Nothing we tried helped. So we called our regular handyman and before our coffee got cold Kyle had our issue fixed!
We’re sending him a big thank you by postcard… (postcard art by Clancy)

Since we’re hand washing dishes until the new dishwasher is installed I made my homemade simple sauce (recipe card here) and added chunky veggies – zucchini, onion, bell peppers – it was very good over pasta! Several meals were had with easy clean up – just the pot I boiled pasta in and the bowls and forks we ate with! The sauce was reheated in the pot it was original cooked in.

When things go wrong I refer to this thumbtacked note on my studio wall.

And that concept of seeing possibilities includes remembering especially during difficult or stressful times to see the beautiful things. Here’s some beauty I enjoyed seeing in my wife’s garden.

And also this thumbtacked thought was good to remember…

… and it was good to practice. Just for fun we got some Daniel Smith watercolors that have shiny aspects; interference, iridescent and duochrom to the colors – and both of us played with them on watercolor paper. Taking time to play is important especially in stressful times. The cat helps too.

Below is another days breakfast and sketchbook page. Since this week had stressful times with household appliances in addition to maintaining my work rhythm I mostly let go of my social media posting and responding. Letting go of the social media part of living a creative life helped too. I will pick it back up… and the break was/is nice. (Thank you in advance if you share this post on your social media.)

This next week besides the framing and will focus on website and promotion prep for the opening of Odditerrarium. It’ll also have some more rest and recreation in it before the opening of Odditerrarium on June 3!! Wahoo!!

I hope all of your household appliances work smoothly or are easily fixed this week! I also hope you make time to see the beauty around you and to play. See you next Monday.

Chapter 3: Readings From The Heart

A Creative Life, Alphapets, Alphapets Too, animals in art, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, Books In Art, creative thinking, drawing as thinking, ebook, fine art, food in art, illustrated poem, illustrated recipe, life of the mind, mental health, pet portraits, printed books, public art, reading in art, sketchbook, story, Sustainable creativity, visual thinking, words and pictures, writing, writing and illustrating

I’ve been asked how I manage projects, like my “Readings From The Heart” exhibit, over a long duration. Half jokingly I replied “one bite at a time”. My joke is in reference to this saying I have thumbtacked to my art studio wall.

Seriously though when starting I create a general big picture, a kind of map for the entire project. Or, if you prefer, an outline. When I design a long project I do a hybrid blend of the two writing techniques: outlining and seat-of-pantsing. I apply these writing technique concepts to fine art making. I described in my last post what my big picture became for this exhibit that opens this week; the exhibit statement and the exhibit catalog Readings From The Heart. Here’s a few photos of the printed catalog. An ebook version is also available.

But when I began, more than 8 months ago, my big picture for this project was extremely vague. It was akin to a map of a forest without many details. It was akin to a book jacket blurb, with barely a teaser of what might be inside. It was akin to a writer’s outline with whole sections labeled ‘more research needed’.

My big picture map/ loose outline, was handwritten on a legal pad. Vague as it was it still served as a starting point. I keep a notebook/file box for each project so I can store all of my notes in one spot for easy updating and consultation as I work by the seat of my pants and a lots of “Very Small Goals” (VSG) for the project.

Then with the vague map in hand I identified some Very Small Goals (VSG) that would help me start and proceed on my project. These VSG’s can be as small as ‘buy a new art boards by Friday’. The VSG’s change as the process develops. The trick with VSG’s is to make them absurdly small, easily achievable and very specific – including what and when. It’s important to also find some way make each VSG fun.

I think of the creative life as an Eco-system rather than an Ego-system – what’s important is participating, showing up and finding ways to keep things fun. I can’t stress enough the importance of playing and keeping things fun. That makes creativity over a long project sustainable. Here’s another saying I have thumbtacked to my studio wall.

As I proceed to work I know many changes to my big picture/exhibit design will happen. I also know I don’t live in the big picture. I move organically back and forth from big, medium and small pictures of a project. It’s okay to be uncertain, to experiment and play. I just remember to update my big picture map as I have new thoughts. Slowly over time the picture map comes into focus. A project also changes as life happens.

In this case I began my Readings series well over 8 months ago. Then the pandemic happened and threw a monkey wrenchs in my plans. For example I had to suddenly adapt the way I was artistically inspired: to change from being inspired by things I experienced out in the world to a stay-at-home life, things that I read about or only happened in my imagination.

So to think through how to cope with the pandemic and quarantine I reread Dr Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit, which I had created some time back, about mental health coping skills and wrote notes, drew pictures in my sketchbook in order to think.

I also worked daily in my sketchbook on the topic of how to adapt finding books to read, and the development of one’s mental life to a stay at home quarantine situation. Eventually this book was published as Another Sketchbook in order to share my entire process.

Being in quarantine meant cooking at home more so I consulted our Favorites So Far book. This is a sketchbook full of recipes that were enjoyable ways to feed body and mind. You could say that my work on these artist books/sketchbooks is the medium picture, the inset details within the bigger map, the more developed areas in the outline.

A look at the original sketchbook page which is included in Favorites So Far

All of this sketchbook work inspired my fine art, where I developed specific thoughts with ink and gouache on board. You can almost think of the fine art as the most visible leaves and fruits on the artist book “trees”. In the exhibit catalog I’ve tried to show the connections between the artist books and the fine art I created.

Sometimes, as the pandemic continued, the fine art on the topics of reading, cooking and thinking felt too serious. Needing some self comfort and to have some fun I began drawing portraits of dogs and cats. In order to organize these dog and cat drawings I decided to make them into a children’s book as a gift for some kids in our friends’ lives. Many of my adult friends enjoy my dog and cat portraits so I decided to share each pet portrait on my Instagram page as I finished it in hopes of cheering my friends as I created the kids book.

The finished artwork became an artist book titled Alphapets and was picked up by Storyberries.com. A sequel Alphapets Too followed. Many stories begin with love and an alphabet – so this portrait project felt fun, relaxed and like a small picture, a detailed map insert or a sample bit of text to be fitted into an outline. (In fact, I spoofed some of the pet portraits within my larger fine art paintings.) Here are the pages in the big picture book Readings From The Heart that tell about the smaller picture of Alphapets and how it fits in.

The original artwork for both Alphapets and Alphapets Too is on exhibit at the Aurora Gallery during August and September. More details about those projects here with lots of pictures of the artwork.

When all of the artist books and all of the artworks were finished I reread my notes and used those to create the exhibit statement I spoke of in my last post. I also used these notes to create the exhibit catalog Readings From The Heart. That was the very last thing I did for the August and September exhibits at Burnt Bridge Cellars, the Aurora Gallery and Caplan Art Designs. Well, the last thing besides the framing and art delivery.

Below is a photo of all of my artist books that relate to my Readings From The Heart exhibit. Additionally I’ve created a webpage with all of this projects more than 20 fine art pieces and details about each of the 3 exhibits here.

All 6 artist books related to the Readings From The Heart fine art exhibit

During this time period I was interviewed for a Doodlewash feature about my work in which I describe my working methods, the materials I use, how my daily work routine goes, images of my artwork, etc – you can see that here: https://doodlewash.com/sue-clancy-artist-whimsical-visual-stories/

Here’s a picture of me working in a sketchbook

Clancy at work in a sketchbook

I hope this look at how I work on long projects has been amusing for you. The exhibits open this week. Many of my upcoming Instagram posts will likely be about that. And I will update the above mentioned portfolio pages too.

Then next Monday when I post here I hope to be beginning a new long-ish project; an illustrated poem for a children’s book titled Numpurrs. I found I quite enjoyed the serialized posts I did for Alphapets and Alphapets Too. So I look forward to doing that again!

writing techniques my kitchen sketchbook and fine art

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, Books In Art, business of art, comfort food, creative thinking, fine art, food in art, functional art, handmade books, illustrated recipe, illustrated shorts, kitchen art, mundane and magical moments, Narrative Art, reading in art, recipe illustration, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, story, visual story, visual thinking, writing

I’m working towards 3 one-person fine art exhibits this year and I’m using writing techniques to design them. Gathering sources, aka a bibliography, is a starting spot for nonfiction works. So I’m borrowing that concept only I’m creating the books I’ll use as, ahem, source citations.

For example, in my last post I depicted a woman reading and having breakfast. Here is the source for the breakfast within the art… the source is my kitchen sketchbook:

During my exhibits I’ll want to show my sources (like a writer would) so I’ve published a new artist book based on my kitchen sketchbook titled Favorites So Far. The recipes come from both me and my spouse, a kind of memoir sketchbook cookbook… and part of the basis for my fine art. Anyway, here’s a picture of the cover:

That you could make your own meals from this book is a happy bonus…it’s primarily yummy source material!

If you want to you can get a copy of this book via this link: https://www.blurb.ca/b/9759759-favorites-so-far

I’ll post more on this topic over the coming months.

art for the wolves

A Creative Life, animals in art, art gallery, fine art, words and pictures

“We need art and beauty because survival is insufficient.” Emily St. John Mandel

I’ve been thinking about that quote today and thinking about my responsibility as an artist to create beautiful, delightful, joyous – and even funny – things. Creations that are my own small way of helping myself and other people to live well, to feel and give love, to reach deep down into that playful place of the heart and mind where deep genuine laughs and gracious smiles come from.

Art making is my way of sitting down near the fearful wolf hiding under the mental bed – within myself, within all of us – and reaching out to soothe it, give it a favorite snack and even play with it until it (hopefully) giggles.

Here’s one of my fine art pieces containing a dog – a wolf ‘cousin’ – that is currently at the Caplan Art Designs gallery:

LyricalLab72

Lyrical Lab by Sue Clancy

And here’s why I think it important to sit with the wolf…

TwoWolves72

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

burnt lunch and an arts education

A Creative Life, art techniques, fine art, illustration

Back in the 1980’s when I declared my intention to be a fine arts major at university I was told that an arts education wasn’t much use in life. I disagreed then and now after up-teen years as a professional artist (with a BFA!) I still disagree. I’ve used, and benefited in multiple ways from, my arts education – particularly from drawing and painting techniques. For example – just yesterday I burnt my lunch. The food was seared to the bottom of the pan as if I’d welded it on.  But thanks to my drawing and painting professors (and a high school art teacher before them) this was no problem! I simply took my plastic food scrapper and used “cross hatching” and “stippling” techniques as if I was doing a drawing using a large chunk of graphite on paper. I employed the sharp edge of my plastic scrapper as if I’d been assigned to do a delicate “scratch-board” illustration.  I “scumbled” small circles with the duller edge of my plastic scrapper as if it was a stiff ox-hair paintbrush – and voila! An artistically cleaned pan! Thanks art teachers!

Here are the drawing/painting techniques described in this post - just in case...

Here are the drawing/painting techniques described in this post – just in case…