As you know from a recent post (here) I’ve been working on a new recipe illustration project for Chef Sebastian Carosi. I’ve spent the most time designing a character who is doing the recipe “action”. It was a challenge to create a cannabis leaf character with “hands” holding things. But I did it! A photo of my progress is below…
When I’d illustrated Chef Kim Mahan’s recipes and we did a cookbook signing event together the question I was most often asked was “How do you keep your hand steady to handwrite all the recipe text?” The answer is shown in the photograph below that also shows my progress on the current recipe project for Chef Carosi.
Can you see what it is?
Yes. A mahl stick. That’s my big studio secret. It steadies my hand both for painting and writing.
However I do something with my mahl stick that I’ve not seen anywhere else. I added a piece of foam pipe insulation that floats freely on the stick – so my wrist slides easily back and forth along the stick as the stick is held steadily in a position. When I’m writing text I need to be able to move my wrist a little along but stay on the same line. When painting sometimes I need to make a long stroke. Either way the foam moves smoothly with me down the length of the stick held in one place.
My mahl stick is hand made. You can buy a mahl stick but I find it easy enough to DIY.
To make mine I cut a small 2 inch portion of foam pipe insulation, taped it to the end of a 36 inch dowel rod, then wrapped that end, completely covering the taped 2 inch foam bit, with a scrap of canvas tying it to the rod so that no canvas fabric ends trail/drag.
The remainder of the foam pipe insulation, about 12 inches in length, was slipped onto the dowel rod. In the photo below you can see the wrapped end of my mahl stick and see how loosely the foam pipe insulation wrist rest is on the rod. The other end (36 inches away!) has a hole drilled in it and a cord looped through it. It hangs on one of my art easel knobs when not in active use.
Okay. So the only time my mahl stick is not in active use is when I’m eating, reading or sleeping! Lol!
And now you know.
In my last blog post, titled ‘down to the wire‘, I listed 10 tips for prepping art for gallery display – and someone asked me to post some photos of the finished backs of my artwork. So here are those requested photos:
The finished back of my artwork “Cupcake” – see the coated wire, the d-rings put in with screws, and the clearly typed label?
To make my labels I type up a Word file with all of the data then print it out on full sheet label paper that I get from an office supply store. I’ve heard from my various gallery owners that they appreciate the legibility.
Here is a close-up photo of the D-ring held on with a screw – and the coated wire on the D-ring. Extra wire is left on so that the gallery or the client can adjust it if necessary.
A close up of a D-ring and screw with the coated wire on it – and a tiny bit of the label showing on the left side of this photo.
Here’s another photo of the back of a different artwork – this one is a larger, heavier work so I put the felt “feet” on the bottom to help protect the wall. Also whenever there is a ‘makers mark’ on the back of my cradled board (in this case this board was made by Ampersand) I place my label so I won’t cover up the board makers mark. If some art conservator someday had to do a repair on my artwork that information could be helpful.
The finished back of my artwork “Fortunes Toad”
I’m sure you’ll note that the back of this piece also has the coated wire, the D-rings with screws and the printed label. I strive for consistency as much as possible in both the kind of artwork I do on the front and the kind of work I do on the backs.
And did I mention that the wire is coated? Yep! Coated hanging wire is as essential in the art studio as water is in a kitchen!
My new Sorg Super 8 Easel arrived today! http://www.studioeasel.com/ I live tweeted this momentous occasion via Twitter: @artistclancy – to sum up: it was difficult to be patient and wait for the truck, the truck finally came, discovered that the box was crushed and punctured – some fear and trepidation as to what would be found inside the box (Would ‘my precious’ be damaged?) but it turned out all was well!! There was a quick cold-pizza break for lunch while I watched the easel assembly video instructions. Then I was all wrenches, hammer and ratchet set – and with valuable assistance from Judy – the easel was assembled! Here are the as-promised-on-Twitter photos:
A big box came! My new easel!
Oh no! The box is crushed and punctured in places! Will the easel inside be okay?
Whew! Everything looks okay! And all the easel parts seem to be here!
Sue Clancy posing with her new Sorg easel a’la a magazine model
Sue Clancy putting one of her recent artworks on the new easel “to see how it’d work”.
I’m thinking the Sorg easel is going to work out just fine – it does allow me to move my artwork up and down much more easily – which was what I’d hoped for in this post here https://sueclancy.com/2016/04/27/easy-easel-eagerness/
I recently decided that I needed a new easel that would move up and down more easily. My current easel has two small “pins” that need to be unscrewed to allow the mast and the platform to move up or down. As time has gone by those have gotten more and more difficult to work with – hard to unscrew, hard to keep level etc – and I don’t adjust the height of my work when I need to because it’s a pain to adjust things. Which results in a pain in my neck, wrist or knees. So I eagerly looked for options and I’m happy to say that I’ve a new Sorg Easel ordered! http://www.studioeasel.com/ It was super easy to order this easel – David Sorg himself answered all my questions – and so I concluded that this easel is the one for me! There’s an omg dream-worthy video of the Sorg Easel in operation on the studioeasel.com website. I’m excited about the new easel and the possibility of being able to move my artwork up and down with a touch! Imagine that!?! Here is a picture of me on my knees working at my old easel…
Sue Clancy working on a commission for the lobby of a children’s center – using her current easel.
My natural habitat below:
One of the inspiring phrases on my wall: “Art is love made visible”
This photo shows what I see when I enter my art studio. It smells like freshly sharpened pencils, new paper, ink and archival glue. I feel a deep to-the-bone happiness here. On the wall above my stand-up desk (pictured) I have a quote: “One must care about a world one will never see.” – Bertrand Russell. Here in the photo is the place where I do my caring.
I work on average 8 hours a day making art of one sort or another. When it’s finished my art goes to galleries or publishers and from there it goes to the lobby of an organization or to a private client’s home or it is reproduced in a magazine or book. Rarely do I get to see firsthand where my art ends up. I’m lucky if I hear from a gallery owner that the client was happy. I’m lucky if the editor sounds excited about the artwork I’ve done for them. I am really lucky if someone sends me a photo of my art in their home (I value those highly)!
This means that I am stimulated to get-to-my-studio-and-work by my imagination; I imagine that the people in the hospital get some comfort when they see my art on the wall, I imagine that the people who have my art in their home come home from a hard day and smile when they see my artwork, I imagine that people in the presence of my art feel at least a little of the happiness I felt as I created that art.
I get just enough feedback from my gallery owners and from clients to know that my imagination is fairly accurate. And it helps me to imagine more exactly in the future because I’ll call to mind specific people who have said kind things in the past – and I’ll create something new with them in mind even if they never see it. So this is a picture of my studio where I do my caring about the world. I have another quote on the same wall: “Art is love made visible.”
My coffee cup (see photo) needs refilling… there, now back to work!
One of the best “how to be a professional artist” advice I ever got: Learn to cook! 2nd best advice: Get a rice cooker – slow cooker combo that has a timer and a “keep warm” setting. (This way dinner cooks while I work – and when dinner is done if I’m still working my food stays warm until I’m ready for it.) Here’s a pic of my essential art studio equipment.
Sue Clancy’s beloved Rice Cooker-Slow Cooker