I’m taking a winter break and will resume this blog after the new year. Did you find your gift book? Hope so. Here’s a video flip-through…
My wife and I made a list of 14 books we’ve loved and collaborated on a short first person sentence (because that was easy) description of our thoughts and feelings about each book. Then I took the book list and illustrated the list, on a sheet of handmade paper folded into an accordion book, using color inks and color pencils. After the artwork was finished I made an ebook version of “Portraits of Loved Books” that can be downloaded for free here https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/a-gift-book-for-you
So as to not spoil holiday surprises I’m sharing the advent calendar adventures on my social media, including this blog, and celebrating Jolabokaflod. A friend gave us an advent calendar of Arteza art supplies – which has been lots of fun to open! Even more fun is discovering a new source for good quality art supplies!
I designed a few projects my wife and I could do together. Here’s the first one.
I made triangle tree shapes.
My wife did the tree ornaments.
And then she did the stars on the tree tops.
I did the shadows and hint of snowy landscape.
Then I did red wrapped gift box shapes.
And my wife did the gold bows on the gifts.
Another joint project is our gift book to be given away for Jolabokaflod aka holiday book flood. This gift will be given Dec 23rd on my email newsletter so please be sure you’re subscribed! You can give a subscription to someone else too.
Here’s the Jolabokaflod poem I wrote and recorded – in case you missed it.
Yes, were getting very serious about Jolabokaflod now and here’s how it goes at our house!
And here’s some of the books that have come by mail from 3 of our local independent bookstores!!
Happy Jolabokaflod to everyone! Happy Holidays too!!
P.S. please make sure you’re subscribed to my email newsletter so you can get your gift ebook on Dec 23rd!!
This week my new hearing aids came in! Besides the new aids I got kisses from Gus the Labrador! The hearing aid fitting went very well and I’m amazed at how good I hear with the new aids! As per directions I’m keeping a journal about my adjustment to my new perceptions. Did you know that freezers and refrigerators make sounds when you open and shut them? Rice cookers too make bub-bub-bubbling noises when they’re cooking. Who knew?!
Needless to say I’ve been thinking about perceptions in the mornings when playing in my sketchbook. Here are some pages.
It occurs to me that having words and metaphors for our perceptions of the world is a big reason to read and read widely. Having ready access to language helps us think, be creative and to be fully human. After all a main quality of human beings is our use of words and pictures/symbols.
This human use of words and pictures is also why we want 5 working senses – and that’s including assistive devices like eye glasses and hearing aids – so we have the ability to grasp images and words. I tell you it’s been a treat to hear my wife’s voice after the last 3 hearing-aid-less weeks!
Which gets me to wondering – what if books are assistive devices for our minds? In that case having a personal reading program takes on a new meaning. In the past I’ve shared my own ongoing use of the Ray Bradbury Reading Program (and here’s a great article about the Bradbury Challenge) but today I want to share a great article I read listing 14 ways to get out of a reader slump! It’s good to keep these 14 ways handy just in case. Two of my favorite ways to get over a slump are 1) read short things and 2) to remember that I don’t have to read the whole thing – I can stop anytime and switch to something that’s more fun. Yes, there’s value in persistence with a difficult topic but if I find myself dreading to read something then I consider switching. It’s important to my creativity to maintain my enthusiasm for my reading program.
BTW here’s what I’m currently reading. It’s lighthearted fun. And it pairs well with that fluffy yellow throw pillow on the couch and a mug of hot chocolate.
Speaking of gifts and holidays I’ve decided this holiday season to publish, via my email newsletter, many of my stories and sketchbook pages in a hybrid step between my creative process and a printed book (or ebook) publication. Kind of like an advance release book of the month club. On this WordPress blog I talk generally about my creative life. Well, on my email newsletter I’m primarily living/doing my creative life. For example I share my creativity from both my poetry/story sketchbook (the orange book in the photo below) and my art sketchbook (the black book) directly to people’s email. (You can get more info or sign up here.)
Since sensory perception is on my mind I’ve written a related story called “The Key” that I’ll share in one of my upcoming email newsletters for my paid subscribers. In the photo below you see the beginning of my story handwritten in my poetry sketchbook and beside it you see an in progress illustration for the story.
My newest book, Patchwork Poems, is doing well on Storyberries.com!! Look at that number of story reads! Barely a week old and my book has been read over 4000 times!
This week I took some copies of Patchwork Poems to the Aurora Gallery for their shelf of 14 other book titles written and illustrated by me! Some of my framed art is in this photo and to the right of the book I’m holding up you can see the book shelf!
I was a bit nervous at first about hearing in the large Gallery space but I did just fine! I tell you these new hearing aids are amazing!
I hope your week is full of pleasant perceptions. Thank you for reading and viewing my work! Happy Thanksgiving!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Of course I did a drawing too because I’m me and that’s what I do – in these copies I did a small self portrait. These can be ordered for shipping from Vintage Books to anywhere. Just tell them you want a signed one.
Since my wife and I were in the bookstore we had a good browse. My wife has her own book haul and here’s a photo of mine.
We got our covid booster shots and our flu shots at the same time. It was the appointment time available that fit (sortof) into our schedule. Felt tired and achy the first day but the next day, the day of my Odditerrarium art opening at Caplan Art Designs…
… I felt punk. The house was 74 degrees but I was very shivery cold. Mostly I read The Hobbit (it’s in my books to cheer up by list) and napped. It felt very difficult to do the social media necessary for my exhibit. But I did my best.
Thank goodness for Amy and Steve at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery!!! They’re both kind, understanding people and they’re very talented at what they do. I appreciate both of them a whole lot in ordinary times but this week I appreciated them even more.
If you’re just catching up here’s the photo of my entire Odditerrarium series on the Gallery’s wall before the lables were added like you see in the pic with Amy and Steve.
By Friday afternoon I felt almost 100% back to normal! Not a bit was done this week on any of the other projects I’ve mentioned in my last post. I didn’t even do any playing in my sketchbook. Even so it was a good thing I felt back to normal Friday because we had planned an after the exhibit opening get-away.
So this weekend we had a delightful day with Rusty on the Oregon coast! Our long awaited date day consisted of a long leisurely windy walk along the Pacific ocean – and beers and burgers by the outdoor fire pit at Pelican brewing – Rusty had water with his very own burger patty, which we cut into small bites for him. Rusty enjoyed meeting so many dogs and we had fun conversations with the dog people. Many of the dogs were not easily identified as one breed and all were as darling as darling can be!
Anyway, a much needed relaxing day was had by all!! Of course art studio supervisor Rusty, and his staff, want to plan more such outings! And now I’m fascinated by mixed breed mutt dogs. I love the puzzle of them, the gentle humor of the look of them…
I hope your week is pleasant and that, if you have them, your beers and burgers are just the way you like them. See you next Monday
My Odditerrarium fine art exhibit opens this Thursday Oct 6 from 6 to 8 pm at Caplan Art Designs! It’s been fun to think so much about what dogs and cats might think about! I hope others are amused too.
I’ve enjoyed titling paintings in ways that refer to aspects of mental life. Sometimes, like this painting below, I’ve been rather straightforward. This painting is titled “Intellect”.
Here’s a look at the exhibit in the process of going up on the wall at Caplan Art Designs. The gallery kindly sent me these photos. You can see more about my entire series here on my portfolio and I’m still very proud of the nonsense poem book related to my exhibit! Yes, copies of my book will be available at the Gallery and also available online here – with a full preview of the entire book too.
On another gallery wall there are 3 of my other paintings from other series.
Here’s a kid looking at one of my paintings before it got moved to a different place in the Gallery.
On my email newsletter recently I shared a few of the sketchbook pages where I’d thought, with a pen in hand, about thinking.
Over on NIL-TECH they wrote a really nice thing about my currently in progress drawing marathon…please click here to see it for yourself. It’s so nice! <blushing>
Progress has also been happening steadily on my 3d 8 inch cube that I mentioned in my last post.
Progress too this week on the illustrations I’m doing for a cookbook by Chef Kim Mahan. I propped a spoon on a small bowl so I could draw it properly.
If you saw the above Reel then you’ll recognize the progress I’ve made in the photos below.
If you’re wondering how I’m managing so many projects at one time: I have 3 work stations in my studio. Each project has it’s own area with an art supply taboret between them with my color palettes and brushes sorted for each project. This way the projects and the supplies I’m using for each one are always ready. I’ll take turns working in short bursts almost daily on each project until they’re finished.
My sketchbooks and the art supplies I use for them are much more portable and roam with me from the coffee pot to the breakfast table or outside to our patio.
And here’s hoping the rest of this week goes smoothly for us all. See you next Monday.
Ants are making progress… in my new artist book that is! In my last post I was working on “Ant Hology” using a collage of letters, ink and gouache. It’s another miniature 2 inch square book that opens to 20 inches long. Here’s the progress:
Now to do the graphic design hocus pocus and send a digital file containing all of these ants to Storyberries!
In my last post I shared a sketchbook page that had Anteaters in it … yes, there’s a new children’s book in progress. The text was written by Judy Sullens. Please notice that I used my ant research in this project too! Ha! Here’s the first illustration:
Here’s my studio supervisor dachshund supervising the paintings in progress. They need to be finished by the time you read this post so my supervisor is helping to keep me focused. Says the dog “Hey, where are you going..?”
Here’s a look at the two paintings on my easel now that they’re finished except for the varnishing, framing and delivering. Due Tuesday!
Storyberries contacted me about their release date for the ebook version of my Odditerrarium. Here’s a Reel about Odditerrarium on Storyberries that I did to help explain the visual story puzzle aspect of my Odditerrarium project.
When I was a kid I loved looking at coffee table books with paintings in them. Now I’m enjoying making books for children that contain my fine art because the little kid I once was would have absolutely loved a book like Odditerrarium!
Anyway, this week has been very busy but even so I still played in my sketchbook most mornings (you can see what I sketched via my Substack sketchbook emails here) and each evening I read books. Here’s what I’ve been reading:
And here’s the evening shift supervisor cat who makes sure we have whipped cream on our hot chocolate, maintain a regular reading program and still get to bed at a decent hour. Says the cat “Hey, you with the thumbs, quit poking about on the phone and get back to lap making and book reading.”
I hope your week is pleasant. See you next Monday.
In our neighborhood we joke that western Washington is built on a giant anthill. Each spring we all battle ants outside our houses before they can invade indoors. The first hint is a mound of dirt where there wasn’t one before. Like this one on the edge of our patio.
I lifted the bricks and put the ant bait directly on the fascinating ant farm-tunnel construction then covered the bait with the bricks again and swept away the dirt on the brick edges. Of course I had a good look at the way the ants collected and organized the dirt before I did my acts of destruction.
When ants are found indoors I use a solution of vinegar and Dawn dishwashing soap to clean the area where ants were seen. The non-poison solution is in a spray bottle and it quite effectively kills and deters ants. Between the outdoor/indoor methods the ant activity is usually successfully managed.
After doing some ant battle outdoors I came inside, looked at my bookshelves and realized how many anthologies I have: collections of poetry, short stories, essays… In one set of bookshelves alone I counted over 25 anthologies. There are still more on other shelves. I have an anthology infestation and I’m keeping it!!
For the first time I saw that there’s an “ant” in the word anthology – so I grabbed a dictionary, a scrap of paper and made a list… and with that list I have begun a new children’s book for Storyberries. I’m using a collage of letterpress letters from Columbia Gorge Book Arts and drawing ants in ink. Both my handwritten list and the beginning of the new book are in the photo below.
In case you have trouble reading my handwriting here’s the list…
Anthology: [a gathering] collections, often varied authors, of a similar literary form or topic or time period (in my last post I listed a few anthologies about the Beat Generation)
Ant farms: [a gathering and a structure] a colony of ants constructing a dwelling
Holo: a word element meaning whole or entire
Alphabet: [a structure] a set of letters to be arranged in a customary order. A structure of language
Hology: [a relationship] – a general relationship between reality and it’s content
Besides musing about words my wife and I went for a walk in the Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge with our binoculars. I saw the purple blue grey colors of a great blue heron up close! I didn’t realize the extent of the purplish tints to the heron feathers. We saw lots of other wildlife too – including smiling friendly humans!
During our walk I kept thinking of a work of fiction I had read long ago that had a musician character who sang “Oh I’ll cry when the wetlands are dry”. The wetlands were a character in the story too as I recalled.
I also vaguely recalled some phrases about birds and wetlands from Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry. But these were fleeting snatches of phrases half-remembered like wild birds glimpsed in the pond reeds.
When we were home I rummaged in my books for where the “Oh, I’ll cry when the wetlands are dry” phrase originated. Turns out it came from “With A Tangled Skein” by Piers Anthony. I had an enjoyable hunt for wetlands in this title too…
The half-remembered phrases from Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver: “I am hardly an ornithologist nevertheless I live among the birds…” (from Leavings by Berry) and “The labor of writing poems, of working with thought and emotion (or is it the wings?) of language, is strange to nature, for we are first of all creatures of motion.” (from Upstream by Mary Oliver)
But since I live in Washington state I went looking for some wetlands related poetry from local writers. Here’s what I found from Salish Magazine a publication located in Washington state https://salishmagazine.org/issue-9-art-poetry/
In the mornings I was still thinking about the herons and the ants so they’re in my sketchbook pages. And it’s been fun sharing my sketchbook pages via email on my new Substack https://sueclancy.substack.com/
Speaking of slurping… I made a yummy fettuccine recipe using spinach and green herbs from our garden: garlic chives, green onion and basil. Here’s the recipe:
This is the challenge for me – remembering to promote the project I finished and is currently in public like Odditerrarium. Often I finish something and I’m on to the next project right away … like my “Ant Hology” book now in progress! So, more on that book next week.
I hope your week is pleasant. See you next Monday.