Coffee and blank books

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This week has definitely been caffeinated. My art commission for Caplan Art Designs is buzzing nicely. The Bainbridge Island Art Museum sent news this week that my book Coffee Beans Plus H2O is included in an exhibit catalogue “Open Sesame” that will come out in March 2023!

Lots of creative things are percolating! Here’s a video look at my book Coffee Beans Plus H2O.

The portfolio page on my website has more photos and info.

In last Monday’s post I shared a pig painting I began with the excess blue paint I had as a result of the still in progress secret art commission. Well, here’s progress on the pig painting. The week has been very busy so I’m glad to have this much done on a new painting.

I still make many of my artist books from scratch – hand sewing the bindings, paper folding and all. Coffee Beans Plus H2O is one example. Patchwork Poems is another. But some time ago I got some very valuable advice from Laura Russell at the 23 Sandy Gallery (an artist book gallery I work with). Laura encouraged me to focus on my book content, my stories and illustrations, as not so much on creating complicated book bindings. So nowadays I buy and use well-constructed blank books to write and draw in. Many of the books I buy have sewn bindings and will lay flat while in use. Quality of paper and the ability to lay flat are attributes I seek in my blank books.

There’s a locally owned art supply store, not far from where I live, Columbia Art and Drafting, that regularly has good quality sketchbooks in their “buy one get one free” section. I like to go through this section like a vacuum cleaner, hoovering up sketchbooks!! 🤣

Here’s what I got: six 3 x 5 inch hardcover sketchbooks for pen and ink work, two 5.5 x 8.5 inch hardcover sketchbooks for heavy watercolor and gouache work, two 6 x 9 inch hardcover books and four 8.5 x 11 inch hardcover books all of which will accept ink, color pencil and light watercolor and gouache work! When we got home from the art supply store I started right away on a drawing in one of the new blank books… which will get shared on my email newsletter later this week and I will continue sharing as time goes.

Here’s a limerick I wrote and illustrated about blank books.

Here’s a delightful article about journaling and what’s good about keeping a journal.

And Sketchbook Skool is fun too – lots of videos with drawings in action.

Hope your blank books will soon contain your very own delights! See you next Monday or so.

Mundane magic – aka joy breaks

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A friend asked how I maintain creativity while doing a commission. My reply: a schedule and lots of joy breaks. I deliberately make the mundane magical. Especially via joy breaks.

Joy breaks, also called “Joy Snacks“, is purposefully taking time to recognize and savor small pleasures. Think of the old fashioned coffee breaks office workers were allowed within a work day but for me now it’s a scheduled “check in” with whatever seems pleasant to me at regular intervals throughout a day. It’s allowing myself to fully feel the pleasure I feel however small the feeling may be. I add a corollary that it’s also avoiding killjoy thoughts – including those U.S. Southern style self depreciating cynical put downs of my own pleasures. It’s taking time to make note of a memorable moment in my journal/sketchbook each day. Yes, notes of things I’m grateful for but also just things I enjoyed and the surprising things that pleasantly caught my attention during the day. It’s also taking a moment to maintain awareness of what is within my control and what isn’t – a crucial thing to remember during creative deadlines – while allowing myself to relax and let go of some things in the Stoic philosophical manner.

In a technical/physical sense while doing an art commission (my current one is for the Caplan Art Designs Gallery) there are times I need to wait for parts of the commission to dry before doing other parts. There are also times when I have extra paint that I mixed for the commission leftover. So part of the mundane creativity task is to monitor the commission as it dries – to stay on task – and yet also use up any excess paint. This week I did a painting of a pig titled “Red Eye Gravy Train”… (details of the painting, the related limerick and a view of my sketchbook is on my Substack  https://sueclancy.substack.com/p/early-starts )

Red Eye Gravy Train by Clancy

I had mixed a pink color for my commission and had a wee bit leftover so I added a bit more of the white and used it on “Red Eye Gravy Train”.

During another days work on my commission I was mixing a particular shade of light blue and the tube of blue suddenly smooged out too much color in a gush. So I had a huge amount of leftover blue color to deal with.

So I consulted my sketchbook for ideas and with a watercolor pencil quickly drew a design and filled in with the extra blue paint (and the wee bit extra green too).

Even after painting that there was still extra blue paint left so I covered two boards edge to edge with the blue till the paint was used up. No clue at this point how I’ll use these new blue boards…but that’s what creative thinking is for!

Since I’ve been so busy working we’ve had lots of beans and rice for our lunches. I have a keeper of my precooked magic beans in the fridge so I toss a scoop or two in on top of the rice in my “push here dummy” rice cooker, to quote my adopted Mom’s phrase for simple kitchen appliances.

I add spices, freshly chopped onions and other vegetables to vary the dishes from meal to meal, press the cook button and head back to the studio to work some more.

Even though these beans and rice bowls I make are simple and cooked in a busy-artist-hands-free-cooking way they still feel like homemade comfort food. (My beans and grains bowl recipe/strategy can be found in my kitchen sketchbook “Favorites So Far“)

I like handwritten works, homemade food and just about anything made by hand. So I  enjoyed this post by Austin Kleon about how AI (and algorithms) can’t kill anything worth keeping.

And I admit to getting a joy snack style chuckle from this article about today’s teenagers going luddite and ditching social media and smartphones in favor of handmade real life!

The additional poetry book title by Andrea Gibson, the new favorite poet I wrote about last post arrived this week! I love it that it looks handwritten. I know it’s a font…but I like the look. Gibson’s words feel so true to my own experiences and the semi-handwritten hand illustrated look adds a sense of comradeship for me.

Speaking of handwritten poetry… I read a fun article about a park ranger who got creative and made a free little library style kiosk for poetry in the park!

One of the most delightful joy breaks was this video of what happened when a girl gave a street musician a coin.

And I hope today’s post itself gave you a small joy break. Remember to take breaks and notice pleasant things. See you next Monday or thereabouts.

Painting, poetry, pasta, pretty cups and books

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I’m very busy working on a top secret painting commission for Caplan Art Designs. So instead of talking about that – look! Poetry! Pasta! Pretty cups! Books!

Poetry: Two books of Andrea Gibson‘s poetry came by mail from one of my local bookstores! Gibson is my latest favorite poet.

Here’s one of Gibson’s poems on page 32 of You Better Be Lightning.

Pasta: My wife got a mixer with the pasta attachments for Christmas! So we’ve been making pasta together! She makes the pasta from scratch while I make the sauce.

Here she’s making large elbow noodles.

I made a butter and parsley sauce for our first pasta attempt so we could primarily taste the homemade noodles. Yum!! Homemade noodles really are worth the effort for the flavor!!

Pretty cups: Recently we’ve been to a few special events with dear friends. There were pretty cups at each occasion. Having recently made a calendar of coffee cups perhaps I was primed to notice them. Even so the cups, and my awareness of them, added a soupecon of extra special to the time with friends.

Here’s a related-to-cup-thoughts page from my sketchbook.

Books: I finished reading this book about books and oh my! What a marvelous invention writing things down and storing them in a book format has been for us humans! And how easy it is to stand on the shoulders of giants simply by reading.

I enjoyed this video about why we should read more. This article about how reading is itself a creative act. And this article about how creativity is actually a practice of resiliency.

So here’s a photo of one of the books I’m reading now in addition to Andrea Gibson’s poetry, a book of short stories and a book of essays.

Hope your week contains good books in it. I’ll see you next Monday or thereabouts.

New color in 2023

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I hope your holiday season was refreshing. A friend asked me 2 questions: what’s the difference between your blog and your email newsletter? My blog is about my creative life generally. My newsletter (via Substack) is where I’m serially publishing my sketchbook content, both art and words, prior to the time and efforts of creating a printed book. There may be a printed book of the art and words someday just not right now. But rather that let my art and my stories sit unseen in my sketchbooks I’m going ahead and sharing them. It’s like publishing a novel, in short excerpts, serially in a magazine. It’s also like what I currently do for Storyberries – I’ll create one of my short artist books and let it become a short ebook on the Storyberries website. Then after I have enough of the “shorties” I’ll create a printed book collection of them. But the kids who visit the Storyberries website didn’t have to wait for my printed book before they had a new story from me!

Anyway, like I was saying, here on my blog I share my artistic inspirations and other  resources… like my recent collection of Jolabokaflod books that cover the 3 categories, poetry, short stories and essays, that Ray Bradbury mentions in his reading program. I’ll use many of these books in the new year as inspiration materials.

During the holidays I also got a new set of acrylic paints from the same art supplies company, Arteza, that made the advent calendar our friend gave us. I liked the quality of the Arteza paints and the way they’ll let you create a custom palette!! So many of the available art supply sets are primary colors only – and it gets expensive buying individual paint tubes to construct a custom color palette. So Arteza is a find!!

Here’s a series of color swatches I painted with the acrylic paints I chose for my personal palette. As you can see it’s not kindergarten primary colors but there is a sortof red, yellow and blue…

Two of the other color palettes I also got from Arteza are gouache paints. One set is a human portrait skin tone palette. The other set is a natural land based palette. These color sets join my “butterfly palette” – a color assortment based on the colors of butterfly wings – for use in the new year.

Here’s a closer look at the gouache colors squeezed out of the tube on the new, previously empty, palette box.

Immediately I did a project that allowed me to use every one of my new gouache palette colors, both the human skin tone and the landscape tones. Just like when I use my butterfly palette I enjoy using the color tones of diverse human skin and the myriad of landscape colors to give color to mundane objects like coffee or tea cups.

My project, my excuse to try all of my new paints, is a 2023 calendar. I’m going to scan these monthly pages with my original art on them and make a downloadable (and printable) calendar for the paid subscribers of my email newsletter. Starting at 7 dollars a paid subscriber gets a calendar and access to my other artist book ebooks including current sequences of my sketchbook. I’m publishing my entire sketchbook a sequence at a time – at least one sequence each month.

Here’s a closer look at my calendar in progress…

Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my creative life as we begin 2023 … please visit my newsletter to see and get downloadable versions of my 2023 calendar and other art projects that I talk about here. It’s easier for me to share the downloadable digital files over there…

Happy New Year!

Adventures in the dining room: holiday art and Jolabokaflod books

A Creative Life, art supplies, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, greeting cards, poetry, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

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!!

Author of the month because of a cow fart and other books

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Turns out I’m author of the month at Storyberries! Wahoo! And all because of a farting cow and a bird who says “F”!! Actually it’s thanks to my readers!! And thanks to Storyberries itself of course!

Here’s a link to the cow on Storyberries

https://www.storyberries.com/bedtime-stories-how-the-cow-went-over-the-moon-sue-clancy-wordless-no-words-picture-books/

The printed book is available via the Storyberries bookstore or via mail from this link https://www.blurb.com/user/sueclancy

It’s also available in person at the Aurora Gallery

BTW besides the cow with digestive issues there’s a forgetful bird in the same printed book.

Another popular book on Storyberries is Alphapets Too at over 66,000 readers!

My pet portraits as holiday gifts project is still happening. Another person got an art print of their dogs portrait for themselves and generously let me share about it! Here’s the dog…

…below is the finished art …

…and here’s a link to the art print. (From that link my other art prints and etc can be found)

https://society6.com/product/jake7757579_print?sku=s6-25878334p4a1v45

The cookbook I illustrated for Chef Kim Mahan is featured in the Blurb holiday gift guide!!!

https://www.blurb.com/gift-guide

I love the word “wacky” as a description!! 🤣🤣

BTW: The window for getting prints or books mailed from my Society 6 or Blurb shops and having them arrive in time for the holidays is narrowing. Same too with my Zazzle shop. This next week I’ll be finishing up portraits for pickup at the various Galleries and I’ll be talking on social media about my books and cards being there for last minute gifts too.

It may be hard to tell from my recent posts, the gifting season and all that entails, but I think of art making as much more than a product to buy – it’s also a mental health service to oneself, to ones family or friends and to the community. I’m looking forward to creating some things during these holidays that will fit this whimsical lighthearted just for fun category.

The advent calendar of art supplies is still being unboxed on my social media. Soon I’ll begin using these supplies in a project…which I’ll show too.

Here’s a summary of what’s been unboxed so far…

Speaking of art supplies and projects: in past years my holiday pet portraits project has been 60/40 dogs/cats or vice versa. Some years it’s been 50/50. So far this year I haven’t done a single cat portrait. All dogs. I’ve lost count but I think I’ve done about 14 dog portraits and it’s still mid December. When the art print and artist book delivery windows narrow sometimes the get-it-in-person at the Gallery aspect increases. Sometimes not.

Anyhoo, I drew a cat in my sketchbook just to keep in cat-drawing practice.

I’ve also been enjoying doing sketchbook pages that include windows, landscapes, coffee cups and books… besides the animals…just to switch things up and relax. Subsequently that means new things are brewing over on my email newsletter. Please subscribe if you haven’t already because Jolabokaflod is coming and I can give my subscribers gifts there more easily than I can here… I won’t say more lest I spoil the surprise.

If you’re not familiar with Jolabokaflod here’s a link. And here’s our way of celebrating written out in my sketchbook.

Happy art and book buying season!! Thank you all for the gift you give me of letting me share my art and life with you!

BTW Here’s a wonderful book list I found of 99 children’s books!

And it’s sweater wearing season at last!

See you next Monday!

Finishing art projects, the Bradbury reading program and creativity

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, books, creative thinking, Kim Cooks Sue Draws, life of the mind, Patchwork Poems, poetry, published art, reading, shelfies, sketchbook, Storyberries, Sustainable creativity, whimsical art, words and pictures, writing and illustrating

This week was about completing projects that have been in progress for the last few months. Now my focus turns towards feeding my creativity via my Bradbury Reading Program – more on that in a sec.

First, here’s a review, by BonnieReads of the cookbook I illustrated for Chef Kim Mahan titled “Kim Cooks  Sue Draws”. The review is here https://bonniereadsandwrites.com/2022/11/05/indie-weekend-kim-cooks-sue-draws-limitededition-cookbook-art-indieart/comment-page-1/#comment-4744

https://bonniereadsandwrites.com/2022/11/05/indie-weekend-kim-cooks-sue-draws-limitededition-cookbook-art-indieart/comment-page-1/#comment-4744

I so appreciate Bonnie for helping get the word out about the cookbook. And a deep heartfelt thank you to all the other people who have shared about it too!

https://www.blurb.com/b/11301105-kim-cooks-sue-draws

Here’s a video flip-through look at the cookbook  Kim Cooks Sue Draws https://youtube.com/shorts/qc-enaNkPqY?feature=share

This week I delivered the finished 3D box I’ve titled “Dogs On The Block” to the Caplan Art Designs Gallery for the upcoming  holiday exhibit.

It has come to my attention that I’ve not explicitly shown that in the mornings I use two small books, both referred to as “sketchbooks”, one for writing and thinking in words: my efforts at poetry, stories, and plans about my artist books and art exhibits. The other book is art, drawing and painting focused. From either sketchbook I work on more finished versions of the art, poems and stories. Here’s a few photos of what I mean and there are more details on my email newsletter.

The writing sketchbook has lighter weight pages which are nice to write on with fountain pens and suit light pen drawings. When I want to really explore an image idea I redraw it in my art sketchbook which has thicker paper that can deal with heavy pen drawings or whatever other art materials I want to use. Here’s an example of that. The writing book is on the left, the art book on the right.

Anyway, the little poem book for children that I’ve been working on for Storyberries is finished now, titled Patchwork Poems and will be released as an ebook on Storyberries.com this week on Nov 12!! Because you follow this blog here’s advance access and a full preview of the entire book along with a look at the cover!

https://www.blurb.com/b/11318282-patchwork-poems

There are promotional things still to do about Patchwork Poems but the active creation part is done.

Whenever I’ve finished most of my current art projects to refuel my creativity I turn my attention to what I call my “Bradbury Reading Program For a More Creative Life”. I’ve practiced this program fairly constantly for more than a decade by now and firmly believe it has helped me be as creative and prolific as I am. Here’s the “Bradbury Reading Program” in a nutshell: for the next 1000 days read one poem, one short story and one essay on any topic. Even if I don’t actually manage 1000 consecutive days I aim for as many in a row as possible. If life happens and I miss a day I forgive myself and get back to it asap. Here is a video of Ray Bradbury himself talking about this reading program.
https://www.instagram.com/reel/CkdkDiuvNrR/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

In the mornings I play in my writing or art sketchbooks in response to whatever is on my mind in the mornings while I’m still in that groggy half asleep state. I am *not* a morning person and this is my superpower: dawdling, doodling and dream-noodling over coffee and breakfast.

The poetry and short stories I read each day are seriously short. Towards evening I randomly pull a book from my shelves, read the poem or story within a few minutes, replace the book on the shelf and go on with making dinner. To show you what I mean… here’s a bookshelf with poetry books on it…

…the book I chose is titled Comic Poems – Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets…

… I open it randomly and read the 4 line poem by Ogden Nash. I replace the book on the shelf and the poem section of today’s Bradbury Reading Program is done.

Now from part of my short story bookshelves…

… I select Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah and open it at random…

… to a half page sized story titled The Oath. I read the story and replace the book on my shelf. Now the short story part of the Bradbury Reading Program is done. And possibly dinner is ready too – or will be shortly.

I shared this photo below in my last post but I’m still happily reading these books each day after dinner. The top most book, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, is a book of short essays that fits with my “Bradbury Reading Program”. The essays generally are two pages long, sometimes a bit shorter or longer. It doesn’t take long to read an essay after dinner prior to clearing the table and doing dishes. I’ve been reading these essays aloud to my wife just so I can keep my voice in practice while I’m basically without hearing aids.

The titles by Salman Rushdie were chosen because I enjoy reading biographies of artists alongside one or more of their creative works. In this way I learn so much about living the creative life. These Rushdie books are what I’m reading each night for about an hour before bedtime. Usually with a mug of hot chocolate.

Details about the books in the above photos are available on my public bookshelves on @bookshop_org – and book sales from this link benefit indiebookstores
https://bookshop.org/shop/clancy

The only book pictured in this post but not listed on my public bookshelves is Comic Poems by the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets. Sadly it seems well and truly out of print however they offer many other small books with short poems https://knopfdoubleday.com/imprint/everymans-library/

I hope your week is pleasant and full of creativity! See you next Monday.

A hearing book and the cookbook is out!

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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.

Very loud drum roll please!! The cookbook I’ve been illustrating is now available! It is titled Kim Cooks Sue Draws and can be gotten in person at Chef Kim Mahan’s culinary Class Cooking which is part of the winery Burnt Bridge Cellars. It is also available for shipping or as a downloadable pdf file from this link https://www.blurb.com/b/11301105-kim-cooks-sue-draws

Progress has happened on my upcoming illustrated poetry book for Storyberries! Here are a few of those original pages.

I have finished the 3D block now and titled it “Dogs On The Block”. More photos will be taken, it will be varnished and delivery to the Caplan Art Designs gallery arranged. So more still to do.

This current hearing aid repair season (Ha!) we’re playing dominoes as well as reading books each evening. So I’ll leave you with the action packed photos below and see you next Monday!