Recently I did a post titled Pug Epic Book In Art – (the post is about my painting in which a pug sits in a café reading a book) – since then I’ve also mused about a character who wrote the book the pug in the painting is reading. Here is an illustration of who I imagine is sitting to write the story “Epic Tales of the Pug King” – the book being read by the other pug in the painting:
“Epic” by Clancy – ink and gouache on paper
And I’ve written the full text of the story that I hand lettered on the painted-book within my painting referred to in the prior post – the painting that when my wife saw it said she’d like to read the rest of the story of which only a part was depicted within the painting. So here’s the story:
Epic Tales Of The Pug, King – by Clancy
The Pug King’s elegantly chipped ceramic bowl appeared before him resplendent with gravy, chunks of meat and yams. His Majesty tasted the gravy, then a meat chunk, the gravy again, then a yam, a meat chunk with the gravy and a piece of yam with gravy. He licked his lips, the bowl and his lips again. The Royal Feast was done; the dog sought some sport to aid all digestion and to his owner cried “Sir, Fool! Kneel now and play some ball!” The owner bowed and bent his knee. “Fetch!” he said and flung a mighty fling. The ball arched high into the air across the green expanse of Royal lawn. His Majesty ran flowing, majestically, swiftly, across the grass, conquering the ball and returning back to his owner. Three times, four times they did this at the King’s command. On the 12th time the owner knelt, patted the Monarch’s silken head, saying “Enough now, lets go inside and get ready for bed.” His Royal Majesty barked sharply. “Sir Fool, there’s a King’s personal business still to do…”
One of the many things I love about the Pacific Northwest are the indie bookstores and all of the people I see reading. Almost every time I’m in town I see people reading printed books in coffeeshops, in cafes, in the park, in the library, in line at the post office, waiting for the bus and even while walking down the sidewalk.
For example here’s a sketchbook page (left side) I did just after passing by the lobby of one of the downtown apartment-plexes. There’s a lobby on the first floor and a guy was sitting in a chair reading with his dog on his lap. (I added the cat – just for fun.)
I did the other page (on the right) on the same walk, but just after walking past a café window where a lady was having a dessert and coffee. The book she was reading was about the same small size as her cake! So I had to note that!
Below are several more pages from my “running around loose” sketchbook (a book I take with me when I go to town) as well as a few from my “kitchen sketchbook” (a book I keep in my kitchen at home to doodle in while I wait for water to boil etc.)
from Clancy’s Running Around Loose Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Running Around Loose Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Kitchen Sketchbook
from Clancy’s Kitchen Sketchbook
These pages – and my many other sketchbook pages full of readers and books – have been feeding my current “reading and books in art” fine art series that I’ve been posting about in my last several posts. This series of paintings is for an upcoming exhibit. Plus books are a fun topic for me to use in my artistic practice to, well, practice.
I’m still thinking hard about my notion of nesting ideas (like the way one book refers to another book etc.) and this week I’ve added a twist; in past years to accompany my fine art exhibits I’ve included ebook versions of my sketchbooks. What if this year, instead of an ebook, I did a limited edition printed book? And what if it was a book that collected some of my sketches of human readers and possibly included some of my poems/short stories? So that the poem/story related to the human reader, what they might be reading and also to the fine art? It would be a way for me to include the story alluded to within my recent painting Epic Tales Of The Pug King for example.
Hmmm… I’ll keep thinking. And I’ll probably post some of my human reader sketches/illustrations here too and see what you think.
Oh, and to add another layer to my nesting-ideas concept, over on my Instagram page I’m occasionally posting books I’m currently reading.
Recently I was in a local coffee shop and a coffee cup was silhouetted beside a rainy window. Steam rising from the cup. Such a simple thing but I began thinking of how many stories begin with simple things and grow, cumulatively, until they become epics.
Like Pug dogs. So small yet so large in personality especially as they mature.
Here’s a painting I did that was inspired by these thoughts. I’ve titled it “Epic Tales of The Pug King”.
Epic Tales Of The Pug King – by Clancy – 16 x 20 – acrylic and gouache on board.
I wrote the story that’s ‘printed’ in the book depicted in the painting and hand-lettered it, with brush and acrylic, into place on the page-within-the-painting.
My wife came into my studio, saw my work-in-progress and said “What’s the rest of that story?”, saying that she wanted to turn the Pugs page for him and continue reading. Then she challenged me to write the rest of the story.
Right this minute I’m enjoying the visual pun – that the Pug’s epic story-poem, ahem, is really, really, short. Plus the setting and my character, the Pug dog, are not particularly grand as the word “epic” would imply.
And that’s in keeping with my feeling that the most important elements of this world are actually the mundane ones, the humble ones. Daily life and the qualities of it can have more impact on a person than the grandest once-in-a-lifetime vacation might.
I love this quote from Annie Dillard “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
I’ve been thinking lately about how much our lives are reflected in the objects we own, save, give away or dispose of – and the many mundane moments out of which a life is made. Perhaps choosing carefully what we focus on, choosing what encourages our “better angels”, choosing what becomes mundane is what makes for a good life.
These thoughts began when I was having coffee at one of my downtown coffee shops, staring at the highly polished surface of the ceramic coffee cup which reflected the surrounding city-scape. It was an ordinary moment that elevated my spirit. I carried it in my mind back to my studio where, to savor the feeling, I created this:
Coffee City – by Clancy – 5 x 7 inches – acrylic and gouache on board
In my town and region I find a lot of cafes, pubs and bistros that have – for the lack of a better term – ledges as tables. These are swaths of 8 to 12 inch deep “tables”, just big enough to put a coffee cup with a saucer and perhaps a paperback book. Or they’re just large enough for a drink and a small plate of food.
Many of these ledges run along a wall and the edge of a room. Some ledges run down the center of a room and still others run along a window. The ledges vary in length according to the space – I’ve seen as many as 18 people sitting along one ledge – but the ledge is rarely deeper than 12 inches.
It’s especially interesting to walk on a busy street and pass by a window and there, inside the eatery, facing the sidewalk, a number of people sit reading, eating, drinking and talking to each other. I also find it fun to be one of the eatery patrons perched at the window and merely inches from the front of me and my 8 inches of ledge is the whole world passing by!
So I was thinking of such ledges today when I was drawing Burmilla cats. Burmilla’s have impossibly big eyes. All the better for watching the world go by from your cat-perch at your favorite ledge!
I’ve been inspired by all the coffee here in the Pacific Northwest and enjoying going to the cafe’s and coffee shops with my sweetie. And yes, we’ve been buying coffee beans from local roasters and “trying it at home”.
Here’s a café inspired pattern design that I’m in the process of creating using a brush and walnut ink.
Spent a self indulgent morning drinking Irish coffee and reading newspapers, magazines and books – and discussing what I read with my sweetie. Life doesn’t get better that that! I also collected the dishes. Meaning that I went through my various sketchbooks and collected drawings I’d done of coffee cups. Drawings I’d done when we went to various coffee shops or happy hours and had coffee drinks. In my fine artwork I often depict my dogs or cats drinking coffee or tea – so I thought it’d be good to have a collection of “dishes” all in one place to pull from when it’s time to make fine art.
Here’s one page of my coffee cup collection. There are many more pages filled with cups … but one page will give you the idea.
page from Sue Clancy’s sketchbook
Here below is a “raw” sketchbook page from which I collected one of the coffee cup shapes that was collected into one of my other “all cups together” sketchbook pages – but the above cups came from “raw” sketchbook pages too. I say “raw” pages because these small sketchbooks fit in my pocket and are drawn on the fly as life happens. I’ll refine them or re-draw them later.
page from Sue Clancy’s “raw” pocket sketchbook
Living here in the Pacific Northwest I’ve been fascinated with the variety of coffee drinks available as well as the kinds of cups the drinks are served in. Did you know that there are some 44 different coffee drink types? I didn’t until I started noticing. I’ve not tried them all yet but I have learned to ask my barista questions. Learned a lot that way! And of course while I’m drawing in my sketchbook I write down the recipes as told to me – and then, if I try to make it at home I’ll note in my sketchbook my favorite mix. I think of it as part of my on-going “know thyself” self-education program. The recipes make their way into my fine art too – just less obviously. Here’s my favorite recipe for Irish Coffee.
recipe for Irish Coffee made as Sue Clancy likes it