My exhibit Figures Of Speech went very well! Lots of people came! So many came that I hid in the kitchen watching the winery chef do her magic! Of course I talked to lots of people and gave art tours so when I say “I hid in the kitchen” that was where I chose to sit, whenever I sat, with my wife, our Fairy Goddaughter and one of our Fairy Goddaughter’s friends who we’ve now adopted. Come to one of my exhibits, stay that long and presto you’re family now!! 🤣
Anyhoo, the chef made a watermelon spinach salad that was incredibly yummy! And yes, I brought a sketchbook and pens with me…
The chef surprised and delighted me with some strawberries (one of my favorites) and some chocolate!!
The chef made apple pork burgers with a brie sauce that I started eating before remembering to take a photo.
There was very good live music too… this was what the winery said about the food and music! 👇
This was the first Mother’s Day without my adopted Mom as she died last year. This month is also the month my adopted Dad died just days after sending us a box of books by mail. So it’s been rough. Also I’m very busy working on an art exhibit. So I’ve mostly been offline away from social media doing work stuff and generally taking care of myself.
Here’s a sketchbook page in which I list a few the the things I learned from Mom.
Because it felt good to do it I put a downloadable ebook version of “Pembral Forgets” on my email newsletter. It’s a book I illustrated that Steve Tubbs wrote about fall leaves, good food and a boy who forgets something important but is loved anyway. Here’s the link https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/pembral-forgets
I had dedicated my part of this book to my adopted Mom and she did get to see it!
This week we did take a books and beers break and joked that it was brought to us by the letter V – a local bookstore Vintage Books and a local brewery Victor 23.
My adopted Dad always insisted on having his beer in a glass. So in his honor we too insist on a glass!
I stayed up late several nights reading a novel “Rejoice” by Steven Erickson and would spend all day reading it if I only could. I’m absolutely loving the plot scenario of outer space beings who have made it impossible for any human on Earth to cause harm to another human …
Wow! It’s the perfect read for this difficult weekend.
Now to work on paperwork and framing for my upcoming art exhibit …
This week we took care of 2 dogs belonging to our extended family thus bringing our inhouse pet count up to 2 dachshunds 1 chihuahua Jack Russell mix and 1 cat. Everyone got along peacefully at “Camp Rusty” playing and sleeping together.
Well, the cat did his own thing but wasn’t upset by the extra dogs. In fact I think the cat enjoyed watching them from a window. And one of the dogs enjoyed watching the cat watch the dogs. It was all very meta as they used to say in literature class.
Given all the doggy focus this week I read doggy related poems.
Here’s one I particularly enjoyed.
I got extra canine support this week when I shared my sketchbook on my email newsletter.
My fine art projects for upcoming exhibitions were adjusted so I could more easily work in short bursts around what the dogs needed. As you can see in this video all I have to do is put the cap back on my fountain pen.
Here’s the finished painting. I’ve titled it “Genus: Doodlebug Species: Yellow Short Line Beetle”
All that time I spent in the biological zoological illustration trenches came in handy when drawing the beetle! 🤣
We sat outside on our patio a lot so the dogs could play in the yard during a rare week of Pacific Northwest sunshine. Besides my portable lap sized art projects mentioned above I read books! Besides the book of dog poems here’s two of the titles I’m reading alongside a cold beer and a pitcher of water.
I’m continually amazed at how similar visual pattern construction is to writing poetry – including the rhythm design scheme “a b a b” and so forth. I’m also still enthralled by how fine art exhibit plotting is so similar to story construction.
And I’m sure you noticed that all 3 of the above books fit into my ongoing Ray Bradbury Reading Program in which I’m reading one poem, one short story and one essay per day. This reading program is easy to adjust around doggy needs too.
The novel I’m reading before bed is one I’ve read before and is a favorite! I picked it because this week had enough challenges without adding a challenging new novel to the mix. So I picked a novel for the spirit lift (pun fully intended) in it.
In the above novel there is a party in which several people take turns singing a “port a beul”. So I looked online for examples to listen to while I read. This was a favorite! 👇
Saturday was Independent Bookstore Day so I did this drawing in honor of my local independent bookstores which have provided so many damn good books for me to read!!
Did you notice that my cat book buyer drawing is in a 4-beat “a, b, a, b” form?
Anyhoo, I hope your week is filled with many good things too.
We had a fun visit this week with our wonderful Fairy Goddaughter, the very best Goddaughter since once upon a time! We had a delightful conversation about books and she gave us this one by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
It’s a delightful cheerful sort of poetry book. A restorative way to begin and end a day. What a beautiful gift and even better is having a wonderful Goddaughter to share life and books with!!! 💙💚
Also this week some bunny made a Mysterious Mural – https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/mysterious-mural-2 It’s a small 16 page artistbook story about the creative process that I made using fountain pens and gouache on one sheet of handmade paper for the encouragement in it. Details at the link above.
Knowing how you feel, what you think and being able to talk clearly about it is an important skill to cultivate. This is true for everyone and especially true for anyone trying to do anything creative.
Creativity comes from a regular habit of observing the world and listening to yourself to your own thoughts and feelings. Creativity comes from trusting your own voice. Creativity comes from cultivating your attention, deepening the depths of your thoughts and playing with the possibilities there. Creativity, even humanity itself, relies upon individuals having an active inner life.
Basically this week I’ve been thinking a lot about how it’s helpful for mental health’s sake, to somehow make time everyday- at least 5 minutes- to check in with your five senses, to explore your own thoughts and have therapeutic conversations with yourself. Pens and paper are so useful for such inner conversations. My friend Neera also discusses this in her email newsletter and kindly mentioned me and my morning sketchbook efforts!
Speaking of my sketchbook efforts: This week on my sketchbook newsletter I finished sharing my entire book “C” and will begin sharing sketchbooks D and E soon.
I’m enjoying publishing my sketchbooks sequentially, warts and all, in a Substack email format – A.M. Sketching. I see it as a creative art project. I can share digitally whatever I’ve created in real life in a reader supported way – via both paid subscribers and free subscribers. The Substack format enables me to share my creations directly in an ebook or other downloadable format on a regular basis with people who have said (by subscribing) that they want to see my stuff. This way of publishing feels more sustainable both environmentally and creatively. Substack also feels like a more sane, humane platform for authors and artists and readers …fewer trolls… so far.
Anyhoo, the creative arc for creating a one of a kind artist book, printed book editions, fabric design productions and fine art prints can take multiple weeks or months of time. (And can be expensive to produce.) To create a one person fine art exhibit – 20 or more paintings in a themed group – can take a year. You see evidence of these long creative arcs here in this blog. So it’s nice to have my email newsletter that goes a bit faster and the dollars and support I get there gives me the encouragement I need to sustain my longer arcs. The support I get here on WordPress is valuable too – and I heartily thank you for it – yet I’ve never figured out, successfully, how to share downloadables here on WordPress. So I do my actual books and downloads on Substack where it’s easy. On the other hand WordPress doesn’t have word count limits as Substack does so here on my blog I can write in more depth about my creative life and why I created something. But then again WordPress can be buggy, cumbersome, with gremlins… Some pros and cons to both publishing platforms. The main thing I’m discovering is that it’s less expensive for me to share my actual work via an email newsletter on Substack and as a result of both its ease of use and less expense I’m able to share more of my art – and that itself feeds my soul!
And on my Substack newsletter I shared a Rabbit… more about that in a second…
To be healthy mentally we all need to regularly see beauty, we need gentle humor, we need to see patterns in our world and even to attempt to make them with our own hands.
Humans need rhythms as I’ve mentioned in recent blog posts. We simply, physically, need times when we can wander slowly, aimlessly and hear ourselves feel and think. Throughout our lives in order to have satisfied minds we need to repeatedly test what we think we know and what we think we like. Reading novels, writing and doodling are easy ways to give ourselves time to mentally wander and play.
And yes sometimes finding the time to mentally wander feels impossible in these days of 24-7 information onslaught, when our days seem so full of activities that it’s difficult to find moments of quiet respite … While thinking about that I drew in my sketchbook a pig with wings, hovering in the quiet air doodling…
That sketch led to my finished painting titled “When Pigs Fly”. It’s a tall skinny size, 18 inches tall by 8 inches wide. Eventually (the long arc of creativity again) it will be in fine art exhibits via Caplan Art Designs later this year.
Even though it’s hard sometimes to wrangle time for them the repeatable motions like walking and reading and doodling are reliably accessible, more accessible than a vacation cabin in the woods. And besides vacations we need regular mundane ways we can enable ourselves to hear ourselves think. This physical brain fact about the value of quiet and repeated motions as a self-care technique is related to why adult coloring books are a “thing” – coloring is another rhythmic activity that gives us space to calm and connect to ourselves.
Toward that notion this week I hand drew a coloring page and set up my artwork so that it can be downloaded and printed via my email newsletter. Alongside the coloring page I told a personal story… here’s where the Rabbit mentioned earlier comes in…
Teaser: As a deaf kid I had “Easter Bassets” from my mishearing of the word basket. My coloring book drawing in my newsletter was inspired by my Easter basset memory… you can download my drawing page to do coloring yourself or to read my personal story. Here’s the link: https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/leggs-easter-bassets-and-rabbits
Yes, I grew up and learned about the “k” language sounds … but I still like to think of the Basset Hound as the delivery system for treats this time of year … the rabbits may have done the egg decorating but the eggs got to you via the hounds !!
Now you know!
Here’s what the coloring page looks like. Again the actual download is here.
Also in the same Substack newsletter is a link for a book I wrote and illustrated for Storyberries titled “This Rabbit” – its about rabbits liking things – and as I mentioned knowing what you like is a skill to cultivate all of your life. (Watch out! More rabbits!)
I hope you can see how I’m experimenting with using both the Substack and WordPress platforms- more to the point I hope you’re enjoying what you see from me in both places!
Speaking of enjoying things – here is a photo of books I particularly enjoyed this week: one is a list of things the author Barbara Kipfer likes. I enjoy trying some of her preferences that are new to me. I also enjoy the reminders of things I’ve enjoyed in the past. The book on Zentangles is a wonderfully relaxing doodle prompts book.
A pleasant digression: A fun thing happened when we were at the Powell’s bookstore on Hawthorne street in Portland this week. In the poetry section where I was browsing was another adult, also browsing. With that adult was a kid sitting on the floor at their adult’s feet. The kid, maybe 10 or 11 years old, was looking, with a furrowed brow, at 8 books from a series, looking from one book to another in fairly rapid succession. After a bit of that activity the adult leaned down, picked up one of the books, looked at the price tag then at the array of 8 books and said “Let’s get them all.” The kid’s jaw dropped. “Really?” “Yes!” Said the adult. “Ooooh!!” breathed the kid scooping up the 8 books and hugging them. Big grin from the adult hero of the day.
Below are the used books we hugged home ourselves. Bread and poetry in our future! Both bread making and short poetry involve patterns and rhythms…
Here’s a novel I’m currently reading. It’s just relaxing and fun.
The text below was on a bookmark found in one of the used books we bought …it made me laugh.
I hope your week is has as many pleasing patterns and rhythms as possible.
See you next Monday.
P.S. if you’re curious about the books mentioned in this post you can find them here on Bookshop.org which benefits small independent bookstores.
In my last post I talked about creating rhythms and patterns. This week I created rhythmic art based on my real life. For example I saw a plant skeleton which inspired part of an artist book I made and shared earlier this week on my email newsletter (there’s a video flip-through on my newsletter). In my book titled “Mysterious Mural #1” I was thinking of the power of art, of books and of coffee… in my whimsical way of course. But the book contains a story sequence around a large pattern inspired by the plant. Here’s the plant…
Here’s a look at part of Mysterious Mural #1 so you can see the sortof resemblance to the plant above. More details on my email newsletter post here.
It probably won’t surprise you that my wife and I went to Beaches, a local restaurant, to attend, (along with half of Vancouver! ❤) the fundraiser for the local library system Ft Vancouver Regional Libraries. At the restaurant Beaches we sat by big windows looking out over the Columbia river watching the weather changing as we looked. We also saw seals leaping and geese swimming…
As you can see when we got our food and drinks it was bright and sunny.
Then the light changed and the color of the river changed… I find it endlessly fascinating how light affects the perception of colors.
Later we visited the main library downtown. It’s a 5 story building occupying a city block. Five glorious floors of public library goodness! There’s a sculpture garden on the walkway to the front doors. The top floor has a balcony with a garden and seating areas for reading outside but you can’t see that from the ground.
One whole floor, the 5th floor, is devoted to fiction and it’s the floor that has the outdoor balcony. Here’s a view from inside the fiction floor.
Here’s a view from the 5th floor balcony. If the day were clear and sunny this view would show snowy mountains in the distance. Even on a cloudy rainy day I think the view is pretty.
I went to the library in search of particular titles that were referenced in other books I’ve been reading. Of course I didn’t “stick to the list”. 🤣 Here’s what I came home with. My wife has her own stack!
Our library day was so pleasant that on another day I created a pictorial diary page about our pleasant day – which I shared on another email newsletter this week too.
I used fountain pen and a water brush in one of my larger sketchbooks. I find the ink wash technique an easy, no fuss, quick way to get things documented. And yes, I selectively edited when mentioning the weather and documented only the sunny parts of the day. I enjoy the rain too but for my pattern I needed to edit and simplify in order to explore my pleasant feelings within my 20 panel grid format. I also simplified the flower garden we saw and what we had for lunch. The story format, what is included and what is left out of a story are rather arbitrary artistic choices of the moment…another day I might’ve made different ones… anyhoo I think the pleasure of the day still comes through. 🤞
I enjoyed the challenge of making a story sequence that is also an overall rhythmic pattern. I’m thinking I might try to make this sequence into a fabric design. 🤔
I’m enjoying playing artistically with my daily rhythms, patterns, events and lists of pleasant things. It’s a fun way to combine life and art in soothing ways. It’s my way of practicing the idea in this story I illustrated in Dr. Bob’s Emotional Repair Program First Aid Kit.
I hope your upcoming week is as pleasant as it can possibly be! See you next Monday.
I recently read “Hare Brain Tortoise Mind” by Guy Claxton and was reminded of how rhythmic things like weeding a garden or doodling can be calming to the human mind. This physical neurological response to “uniformly random rhythms” is also part of the human reaction to rhythms in songs, poetry or prose – we respond neurologically to refrains and repeated patterns, with variations, in all of the arts.
I include cooking here – it too is one of the fine art forms that has comforting rhythms both for the person stirring the stew and for the person eating. I think of how soothing it is for a small child to be held and rocked – what if all of the human fine arts are basically rhythms that can hold “rock” and soothe our physical brains?
So I’ve been thinking more about rhythmic patterns in my own creative efforts. I’ve begun doing doodlebugs… and other projects that involve “uniformly random rhythms” of patterns. I’m also making some changes to my morning sketchbook sessions that involve making more patterns.
As you know things that encourage good mental health skills are important to me and if I can foster my own mental health via rhythmic pattern creativity – and by sharing my work perhaps help others too – that seems a worthy artistic goal.
Here’s a doodlebug I did in my sketchbook and a fabric pattern I made from it.
Recently someone sent me some photos of one of my wallpaper designs that they applied to their kitchen island. They were pleased and said it was “just the whimsy we were looking for”! I’m glad they were pleased!! I’ve learned in the process that grids are fun ways to make visual rhythms!
Here’s a painting I finished this week that I’ve titled “This Little Piggy”. It was inspired by the nursery rhyme: (please note the rhythms) “This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. This little pig cried wee, wee, wee all the way home.” As you can see in my painting below I also repeated visual rhythms, like the rhyme, and did a few playful alterations.
In the video below is a look inside my studio at “This Little Piggy” – I created using ink, gouache and color pencils many of the supplies you’ll see briefly in the video. It will join my other paintings for exhibits later this year via Amy Biederman Caplan at the Caplan Art Designs Gallery. www.caplanartdesigns.com
In my email newsletter this week I shared my “This Little Piggy” painting and I’ve been sharing my sketchbook pages. I’ve finished sketchbooks C and D and am working on E currently. The doodlebug image above is in book “D”.
This book is my current evening and weekend reading. It has a library in it that is dedicated to poetry… be still my heart!
And because I like to share particularly good things: here’s a link to a good recipe for LENTIL CHILI along with my additional notes and variations: Add a can of roasted chilies and use chicken or veg broth or water (whatever available/handy). Add cumin, dark cocoa, Mexican oregano, chili powder, salt, pepper – cook 30 or more mins on simmer, stir often and add more broth or water if needed. Variation: add a chopped carrot, frozen corn and or chopped bell pepper
And look at the rhythmic visual pattern of the beans in my cookpot too!!
I hope your week forms a pleasant daily rhythm for you.
We went touristing and drove 20 minutes from our house to Camas WA independent bookstore called Its Bookish. It’s a delightful store focused on children’s books up to young adult with some adult books too. Here’s some views of what we saw on our way to Its Bookish. Not pictured, because I wasn’t able to get pics due to intermittent clouds and terrain, were fleeting views of distant snow covered mountains.
The door to Its Bookish was warmly welcoming and was a delight to see!
Naturally I made a beeline for the poetry section and then had a more general browse. Both my wife and I found books/authors that we’re always looking for that are sometimes hard to find. The store was quite crowded with lots of kids of all ages and their grownups but during a brief quiet moment in the young adult section I snapped this selfie with my wife in the background. It was a pleasant experience. No bookstore cats though which was understandable given the high level of children’s activities.
After we finished at Its Bookish we walked around downtown to a locally owned pub Grains Of Wrath. On our walk we passed by sculptures and many more locally owned businesses with welcoming to everyone signs in their windows or doors!
At Grains of Wrath we had really good beer and the best mac and cheese ever! Here in the Pacific Northwest every pub has their own version of mac and cheese and it’s fun to discover how much variety mac and cheese can have! My spouse and I split the dishes so we each got enough but not too much. We felt quite indulgent!
Back home I photographed our book haul from Its Bookish.
On my email newsletter I shared my sketchbook page of a dancing hippo … and as you can see by the above tourist play I followed the hippo’s advice
Here’s the gouache painting I finished last week titled “Pink Elephant”. More details and the sketchbook page leading up to the painting are on my email newsletter here.
Also last week I released my entire 38 page year 2016 sketchbook as an ebook download. It’s part of my “book of the month club” paid ($7) subscription series on my Substack. My 2016 “Glad to be alive” sketchbook contains drawings from walks in nature and visits to various Vancouver WA and Portland OR area restaurants libraries and other places. I hope you’ll enjoy it! https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/my-glad-to-be-alive-sketchbook
I’ve really enjoyed sharing both my art images and my stories via my email newsletter and also as a guest on blogs and other people’s email newsletters! I want to create more artist books and learn more about merging words and pictures together… and do more sharing of both my words and images… 🤔
This week, Mar 14th, Amie McGraham from Cook and Tell interviews me and includes my sketchbook pages for St. Patrick’s Day!! You’ll be able to see it here.
I hope your week contains happy hippos. See you next Mondayish.
“Quick! The poetry section!” I said when we entered Annie Bloom’s Books. We were meeting our great niece for dinner and drinks but we were 20 minutes early so we stopped at a nearby independent bookstore. The clerk in Annie Bloom’s pointed to the nicely handwritten sign.
Below is a photo of what I grabbed during a less than 10 minute bookstore browse. Will go back as they have a nice PNW poetry collection. Both Le Guin and Chang are West coast authors. I grabbed The New Yorker because of the article about Salman Rushdie – an author known for resisting fundamentalism and authoritarianism. Here’s a video of Ursula Le Guin resisting capitalism and supporting the arts – and here’s another link about Le Guin’s pro-democracy efforts.
We met our niece at a 19th century style speakeasy called The Bible Club – such a club would be named like this back in the Prohibition era so as to fly under radar. The Prohibition era lasted to some degree until 1966 – and that year is not a typo. Oklahoma, where I lived till escaping 12 years ago, was a “dry” non-alcoholic state until 1959. Until the year 2018 there were still “dry” counties in Oklahoma.
In today’s era Portland Oregon this speakeasy, The Bible Club, only has a house number – no advertising sign – outside it but that’s not due to fears here in the PNW of fundamentalist authoritarians but because this club is also a history museum.
The ambiance, the drinks and food were some of the best we’ve had anywhere! Every element from architecture, furnishings, fabrics, glassware, the cash register- all reflect the 19th century! It was an amazing sensory experience. I forgot to photograph the food it was so remarkably attractive and delicious – I just ate and enjoyed as if the moralist “authorities” might come busting in the door any minute, which they aren’t because thankfully this is the PNW!
I finished a painting that I’ve titled “Peanut Boater” this week. You can see my sketchbook that lead to this painting in my email newsletter.
Here’s a doodlebug I’ve just finished using the Portland Rain ink. The rain and the local Pacific Northwest waterways were a blue-purple-grey color this week and that added to my play-with-ink fun.
This book came in the mail this week. It’s a publication produced by Humanities Washington a nonprofit. This book is as advertised- a gripping read that’ll keep you reading late into the night.
On another rainy day we visited Crooked House Books. Three friendly bookstore cats helped me with the book selection. We had more time to visit this eclectic store and I’m very glad we had the time! Even though the store is small there was so much to see and be amazed by!
We found one book written and illustrated by Edward Gorey and one book of Northwest poets that was illustrated by Gorey. Two additional books of poetry and one mystery novel also came home… our book haul is pictured below.
One of the books I found is a book of Irish poetry published in 1909! I’m becoming quite enchanted by storytelling in verse.
It our current day era of book bans, bans on blogs that mention Florida politicians, “don’t say gay” lawmaking and modern prohibitions on women’s healthcare or trans healthcare, bans on preferred pronoun use, plus renewed efforts to white-wash and rewrite history – I find myself interested in prohibition eras from the past. I find myself curious about how authoritarian regimes were/are resisted all over the world. I find myself interested in stories and how storytelling – and poetry – help us survive and thrive. The more I read and do my own creative efforts the more I think stories can and do make life more livable.
It’s related to this idea that’s thumbtacked to my studio wall.
Speaking of being glad…this coming Tuesday, for my paid subscribers, I’m releasing an ebook version of my 2016 sketchbook on my email newsletter.
Oh, and here’s another more in focus photo of the Crooked House bookstore cat and the wooden whiskey box shelves. Gosh that was such a fun bookstore visit!
Please keep the art, stories and poems with the playful, lighthearted silliness coming. I’ll do my best too! We all need more love and kindness!! As the variously attributed saying goes “a little nonsense is valued by the wisest”!
See you next Monday-ish.
P.S. here’s a resource and here’s another telling about some of the unpleasant political stuff I alluded to in this post.
One pig leads to another it seems. On my email newsletter I shared a flying pig and what inspired it. The finished painting was called “The Plot”.
That in turn inspired another pig with wings to appear in my sketchbook.
Which then became a painting titled “Higgledy-Piggledy” which I also shared in my email newsletter along with other things not mentioned here because I’m trying to not repeat myself too much across my social media, but … this is what’s going on in my world.
This is now my 20th #childrensbook !! (There’s a search bar on Storyberries.com where you can type Sue Clancy to see all 20 of my books!!)
In case you missed my video flip-through…
Over on my email newsletter I had shared my original idea book notes in my poetry sketchbook… but so you don’t have to click away here it is below. My sketchbook is where everything begins…
We went out for pastries and coffee earlier this week before the snow descended. While there were muffins (like in my Higgledy-Piggledy painting above) I opted for a croissant. I thought about drawing these delectable morsels but instead of drawing I just enjoyed eating.
In an earlier post I shared about getting a set of Haikubes … well, this was the playful poem absurdity that happened this week…
…followed by a doodlebug dancing. Instead of being a “violet grace” color though the bug ended up grey blue-green with a purple shadow. 🤷♀️
Reading about creativity and how it works neurologically is fascinating to me. Creativity is what creative people do – whether the artistic method used for expression is writing, drawing, music or any of the other arts – and regardless of the mood or topic expressed. Much like heating food is what a kitchen stove does – whether the stove is used to boil, bake, saute or in any way apply heat to a soup, a sandwich or a casserole.
Anyway, hope your week is full of grace and playful creativity in whatever colors or flavors.